"We must find ways to harmonize diversity with unity, the exercise of freedom with the common good, short-term objectives with long-term goals." During my time in Costa Rica, I saw the construction of an institute dedicated to research and implementation of The Earth Charter, which is being built next to the University for Peace. The Earth Charter was developed over the last decade by an independent Earth Charter Commission, following the 1992 Earth Summit. The objective was "to produce a global Read more [...]
Books on climate change tend to finish with a list of things we can do to help: buy a green bag, ride instead of drive, hang up your washing rather than using the dryer, turn off the lights, decrease consumption ... The thing is, when it comes to the big scheme of things, comparing our individual actions to the actions of corporations, government and military: what difference does it actually make?
I want to know where I should be putting my effort: is more effective for me to cut my personal Read more [...]
Hans Rosling gives an illuminating TedTalks presentation on one of my greatest ecological concerns: over-population.
Let each box = 1 billion people.
In 1960 it was relatively accurate to divide the world into the "First World" and "Third World", the "rich" and the "poor", the "developed world" and "developing world" or the Centre and Periphery.
In 1960 we were 3 billion people. The blue was the 1 billion at the top of the pyramid, dreaming of buying a car and a dishwasher. The green Read more [...]
Why did the Global Financial Crisis actually happen? The best explanation I have come across was when about this time last year Canadian professor Jim Stanford came to speak at my uni - he tries to demystify the economy by explaining the concepts and jargon in a simple, easily understandable way.
What is the economy? It is WORK. 'The total sum of work we do to meet our needs and wants.' The economy is about meeting human needs.
Jim separates the economy into:
1. the "real economy" - that Read more [...]
If the pursuit of peace is an attempt to rid the world of violence, we must ask ourselves - “violence” through the eyes of who? Defining violence from the perception of a collective-humanity, is very different form defining it from the perception of each individual:
- If we define violence from the perception of all-humans-together, then are we not opening the doors for evil dictator, idealistic warfare and other devastating forms of violence to be committed on individuals?
- But, if we Read more [...]
"On the technical side there is no limit to population," said a scholar after talking about solving world hunger. "We just need more efficient systems, and for the rich to eat less." This may be true, BUT the greater question (in my opinion) is: Do we want more people living “simply” in a crowded place, or less people living lives of luxury?
"The population of the poor isn't the problem," so the idealists (like I used to be) say… "We actually need less white people.”
Given the Read more [...]
I used to think we could all be less greedy - that if we wanted less "stuff" we would be happier, and some of that wealth would be shared with the poor. Apparently this simple shift has the power to end world hunger - the rich do with less, so the poor can have more. More recently I have realised that when I contemplate greed I have been wondering if it is actually a human problem that we have the ability to change? Or is greed simple a part of all life's struggle to survive?
In a universe that Read more [...]
Walking up in the mountains outside Kathmandu I contemplated the connection between the world’s inequalities today, the actions of one’s ancestors, and the idea of karma and reincarnation that I had been reading about in some books on the Eastern Religions.
Be they the ancestors who split from the group to discover new worlds fifty thousand years ago, or be they the innovators of new technologies that won them last century’s battles, the connection is pretty clear... and I wondered, is this Read more [...]
I knew I would leave India with a new perspective of life – but the upturning of my worldview has happened in a far different way than I expected. I thought I would arrive home more passionate about social justice, more inspired to make a difference to the lives of “poor” people. Instead I am leaving India with a hardened heart, more humility, and an increased concern for the future of humanity as a whole. Why? Because the population problem, the elephant in the room, is far too big a problem Read more [...]
I stole my sister’s schipperke Bella for two days of doggie companionship – it’s pretty clear why they say that a dog is a man’s best friend. Not only are dogs adorable and fluffy, they (especially Bella) give you cuddles and snuggles when you ask, they run and have fun with you, they don't hide what they are thinking and feeling, and best of all they love you unconditionally.
This morning we walked around Rushcutter’s Bay amongst many other doggies and dog owners, and I started wondering… Read more [...]
When I was in South America, one place I missed was Easter Island. If you want to go here I believe flying LAN Chile is the way to go as they give you a free stop over if you're flying from Australia. We flew Aerolinias Argentinas (one thing I hope to NEVER do again) and instead I got to see New Zealand Airport. You live and learn... Moving on... I want to tell you why Easter Island interested me so much.
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui (the native name), was discovered by a Dutch ship on Easter Sunday Read more [...]
There is plenty of evidence that 'the work-dominated and materially encumbered affluence of today is not giving us enjoyable lives, and that switching to a more sustainable society in which we work and produce less would actually make us happier':
- the 'stress, congestion, ill-health, noise and waste that come with our “high” standard of living.'
- the ‘rates of occupational ill-health and depression have been shown to be linked to the number of hours we Read more [...]
Yesterday I had a bit of a rant about the money people earn and spend in the world I live in comparison to the money people earn and spend in the developing world. Here people work around 8-10 hours a day, 5-6 days a week behind a desk (by one's own choice) and spend their income on clothes and chocolate and cars and properties and parties and holidays. There people spend 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week behind a sewing machine or picking cocoa beans (no choice) just to put basic food on the table Read more [...]
'What do you think our generation will be remembered for?' a friend said at dinner.
'The generation who ruined the planet for everyone.' I replied without a thought.
'I was thinking more about what architecture style or something... but....'
Oops. Yep - I'm great at small talk.
Did I really believe it, those words that came out of my mouth? I thought I was optimistic about our future. I thought I believed we were really going to change things. I think for the most part I do, it's just the small Read more [...]
To recap, in our first chapter of this Big History Blog Series, we learned that the Big Bang theory is based on the observation that our universe is expanding and hence that it must have once been smaller. Winding back time we imagined the infinitesimally small point of singularity. At the point in time we can call the beginning of time, we went from nothing or a something that lays beyond our understanding, to the existence of quarks and the laws of gravity and electromagnetism. This combination Read more [...]
'I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.' George Bernard Shaw.
The following snippets of youtube videos are inspired by an initiative called "Awakening The Dreamer" which involves a half-day seminar that uses these video Read more [...]
Once upon a time, in the land of Quantum Nothingness, there was a BIG BANG and an infinitesimally small something started to expand, possibly faster than the speed of light.
For some unknown but much talked about reason, matter in the form of quarks (the basic building blocks of protons and electrons) and dark matter (we don't actually know what this is) appeared, and with it came two forces: gravity (that draws everything together) and electromagnetism (that draws opposites together and pushes Read more [...]
I wish to share with you a story: The Story of the Universe. My Story. Your Story. A True Story – well as true as true can be. Our Story has gone through many filters: of limited human knowledge developed through our limited human senses, mental constructions, and even our “impressive” technologies. Our Story, as I tell it, will be filtered through my personal perspectives, which have developed through my own past experiences, my limited education, and the general time pressures I face in writing Read more [...]
You MUST check out this awesome animated map of history. It shows when each religion starts and how each one spreads across the globe – all in less than two minutes.
It’s been a busy week so I will start the Big History series, beginning with the Big Bang, very soon.
Have a good weekend!
Reading some diaries and writings of my past it is interesting to see how my consciousness today is embedded in them. I can trace most of my ideas in an almost spiral movement back through time. I can see the exact points in time where various experiences led to various revelations, seeding ideas that have slowly sprouted and are now continuing to grow.
For example, in August 2008 I wrote for the first time about poverty. It was the first time, without reading the academic theorists who made Read more [...]
This is a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh taken from: Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.
Can we recognise ourselves in each other?
Please call Me By My True Names
Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself Read more [...]
Sometimes I feel like a flea on a dog's back. The great-great-great grand daughter of a family who decided to no longer jump from dog to dog, but instead thought it a good idea to settle down on one animal forever.
My ancestor-fleas thought themselves so smart: finding ways to prevent their eggs from falling down onto the carpet, and discovering ways to protect themselves from flea collars and other flea-rid products. Now the members of our family live for months instead of weeks.
My flea-ancestors Read more [...]
Geez I have been bad at keeping my blog. I've had a lot on I suppose... what with uni essays, exams and my Opa slowly dying before my eyes :( ... So yeah, haven't really been so inspired to write just for the pleasure of it. Also I'm soon going to upload some videos, so that will be fun. Anyway, so that I don't go a whole week without a post I thought I'd share with you what I have learned this semester as I read, heard and wrote about my two subjects: the Politics of the World Economy, and Rethinking Read more [...]