Freedom: a wolf in sheep’s clothing if there ever was one.

Image (c) AlexMax http://www.fotosearch.com

For my entire life pervasive, unqualified, “freedom” has been being presented as the antithesis of tyranny. It isn’t. In fact, tyranny can only arise in situations in which it has been given the freedom to do so. Freedom is, in fact, an essential precursor of tyranny.

For example, let’s look at an orchestra. An orchestra is only a thing of beauty when everyone in it is playing together as a unit, in harmony. Yes, some orchestras may present musical pieces featuring dissonance as an experiment, or as a change from their standard presentations. However, how many people would regularly attend performances to subject themselves to two or three hours of dissonance? I believe anyone doing so would be placing their mental health in serious jeopardy. If an orchestra were operating with total freedom. Imagine if every musician would show up and play something detached from the whole, something that they, as an individual, whimsically choose. It would be dissonance, chaos. Maybe the instrument capable of the most volume would dominate the scene. Or the physically strongest musician might coerce all, or most, of the others into playing what they want. That would be tyranny.

The antithesis of tyranny is cooperation, harmony. It requires the collective recognition of the importance and needs of both individuals and the “whole”. The balancing of efforts in service of a successful collective experience. This can only be truly accomplished when we, as individuals, recognize our interconnected, interdependent reality and subsequently dedicate our lives to living within a paradigm which nurtures and supports this essential nature of our reality.

In a world in which all (or at least the vast majority) of individuals, have the knowledge and wisdom to to realize and honor the mutuality, the interconnectedness of ALL of our lives, then freedom, in concert with such knowledge and individually assumed responsibility, is an essential aspect of a satisfying life. Freedom tempered with wisdom, self-regulating one’s behaviors to operate within parameters which sustain wholesome living conditions. Otherwise, freedom becomes the banner under which all manner of perversity and corruption finds expression. Imagine a body in which all the cells decide they want the freedom to act independent of, or maybe even contrary to, the good of the whole. That body is doomed.

The Essential Nature of Circulation

Circulation. Everything that keeps humanity alive circulates. From what we know at this time, it seems that everything that supports life in the entire universe, circulates. What happens when circulation is hampered? Stagnation, toxicity, starvation, illness, death. Without the proper circulation of the blood within our bodies, our cells will begin dying from starvation of oxygen and life supporting nutrients. Then our body as a whole will die. Without the circulation of the air and water upon our planet, our planet will lose it’s ability to sustain life. Within our cells, if the processes of life, of replenishment of nutrients and the disposal of waste were to stop, the circulation of the materials which sustain our bodies, the cell will die. On every level, from the microcosm to the macrocosm, circulation is an absolutely essential feature of the maintenance of life. Quite possibly of the existence of the universe itself.

Turn on the circulation of electricity through a light bulb and the light comes alive. Turn off that circulation and the light goes dark, dead. That same principle applies for the circulation of every life giving, life sustaining substance that there is and the existence of human life on Earth.

The awareness of this inescapable truth within the natural world leads one to ask whether this same principle applies to the realm of human creations? For those versed in metaphysics, it calls to question whether the axiom “As above so below; as below so above.” applies to the essential nature of the circulation of life sustaining resources. First, we must define what is a human, rather than a nature, created resource which is essential to the sustaining of life in the world? To the very best of my knowledge, there is only one: money.

This may be argued by some. Some may present that a person living simply off the land (first you must have land) which is blessed with the resources of water and temperate climate suitable for agriculture, can live quite nicely. In fact, there still are a few primitive tribes which live in such a fashion. Of course that means doing without all the conveniences and the assistance which modern technology and medicine offer. While I tend toward the simplification of life as a general proposition, there are limits beyond which I find myself reticent to venture. I like a number of the medical and technical benefits we receive from our collective human ingenuity. In fact, without some of those, it is a salient question whether or not I would still be alive in my current incarnation. Certainly I would not be writing this essay on a computer.

The reality for the vast majority of people alive on Earth today, is that money is an essential resource for the sustaining of life. Of course this is made a truth by the systems of commerce we have constructed within our societies. We have made money an intermediary, a regulating agent, between us and the, more or less, natural resources we inescapably require. Resources such as food, shelter, fuel and even water. I am quite sure that there are people, at this very moment, trying to figure out how to make us pay for air. While, in our modern world, there is often human effort required in the manufacture of what in earlier times were more purely naturally occurring resources, the fact is, ALL material substance comes to us via the beneficence of the creative forces of the universe. Humankind can manipulate these naturally provided resources to better suit the needs, or wants, of any or all of us, but the raw materials, the substances required, are all provided, free of charge, by the creative forces, the creative intelligence, underlying and within everything we see and are.

All the resources, all the life sustaining substances we rely upon are in circulation within the universe we exist within. All of them. From the most fleeting to what we perceive as the most stable, the most solid. Everything, including planets, stars and galaxies, is in circulation. Everything material comes into being, exists for however long it exists, and then ultimately is recycled back into the primordial stuff from which it emerged.

The rate of circulation conducive to the healthfulness of various substances under different conditions can vary. “Healthfulness” being relative to human life. Why would we measure it in any other terms? For instance, water, when frozen for centuries, can still retain the healthful qualities necessary and conducive to human life. However, if water sits for much less time, relatively motionless, within a pond or a puddle, it is most likely going to be stagnant. Stagnant, anaerobic, and possibly/probably containing substances toxic to human life. For us humans, the value of natural resources exists primarily in the value of that resource in sustaining our own lives.

That being said, how we manage that resource can depend a great deal upon how well we understand the interrelatedness of the world, the universe around us. For instance, to primitive humans the value of trees may have been exclusively their usefulness in building structures and making fires. Later we came to understand that trees and other plants are responsible for producing the oxygen we require for life. Now, a living tree has value where previously it’s value was realized only after it was chopped down. The value we place upon the resources, the “things” that exist around us, is dependent upon how well we understand the function of those things in relation to the interdependent web of existence, of which we are a part. This reality of how we place value extends to every person being born on Earth. We have no idea, no matter how inauspicious the circumstances of their birth may be, what contributions a person, newborn or elderly, may make to our communities and to our lives. It is a fault which surfaces frequently with us humans that we tend to judge the value of a thing, or a person, using the particular criteria the society we live within espouses. Often, if not always, in the greater scheme of things, that criteria is liable to be narrowly defined and hampered by lack of awareness of the interconnected realities a particular society does not yet recognize.

Which brings us back to essential circulation, resources, and the essential human-conceived resource; money. While the concept and reality of money is a human thing, the fact that money, in it’s practical application, has to do with the acquisition of the natural resources one needs to live, makes money, by extension, a critical aspect of life on Earth. The excessive withholding, hoarding, of money from circulation within communities, among citizens, has every bit the stagnating and/or deleterious effect upon life as would the withholding of the air or water from circulation upon the Earth. This is a lesson we must learn from our own bodies. We need enough. Too little, or too much, leads to unhealthful conditions within the body.

The viable management of all resources, including money, is a task which is all too easily sabotaged by the human ego. The challenge we all face is the cultivation of true humility, to recognize one’s genuine place, and role, within community. None of us are “all that”. And none of us are nothing. We exist as components within a spiritual/organic system. We are all dependent upon that system. For any of us to think we can co-opt the balance, the viability of the system for our own purposes is a symptom of a spiritual/mental illness within that individual. When we learn to act within a spirit of love, in our contributing to and taking from the collective wealth which has been developed by collective effort, we will find ourselves facing a present, and a future, wondrous enough to meet, and exceed, our most cherished expectations.

Our Energy Crisis: Looking Outside the Big Grid Solutions

One of the biggest problems facing humanity is the problem of electrical energy. As shown in the documentary “Planet of the Humans”, the much touted solutions of solar and wind energy, in the final analysis, require the expenditure of as much fossil fuel to create the equipment and subsidize them when they cannot adequately produce due to weather conditions, as if fossil fuel were just in place without them. And as for the so-called “Green Energy”, it is just a horribly misguided idea which involves massive deforestation. However, it must be noted that the only solutions big energy evidently wants to look at are the solutions which include keeping massive energy grids in place. The big energy corporations do not want solutions which would change the system to smaller grids, local companies, and/or house by house production.

Our current reality seems to be that big corporations, including energy companies, have become intoxicated with and addicted to wealth and control We cannot look to them for leadership in eco-friendly, human-friendly solutions to the world’s problems. Two solutions I know of, and I am not at all the most knowledgeable person about the myriad possible solutions that actually exist, are the (extensively documented) machine developed by Joseph Newman, and an invention by K.R. Sridhar I read about years ago which involved no moving parts but uses a chemical action to produce a significant amount energy. This system uses a unit the size of a microwave, or smaller, to produce enough continual energy to power a house. And there are other options which I’ have heard or read bits and pieces of here and there.

The thing is, these solutions would take much of the business away from the big energy producers we’ve grown accustomed to and place it right in the home being powered. These solutions hold the promise of being ecologically friendly and freeing people from exorbitant energy bills. So of course big energy doesn’t want us to adopt such solutions. And, interestingly, we don’t hear much about them unless we go digging.

The issue of energy production is just one arena in which a problem which is pervasive across many industries is coming to the fore. How do we manage an economy in which technological advances are continually decreasing the workforce needed for factory production and other jobs previously occupied by humans? People still need homes, food, education, etc. And, we need to feel that we are contributing to our communities, our collective wellbeing. It’s part of our reality as social beings.

We need to be actively involved in developing solutions to these challenges. I submit one aspect of the solutions will necessarily involve wealth being less concentrated in the hands of a few and more equitably spread across the whole of the population. I believe such system will incorporate some aspects of most, if not all, economic systems attempted in the past. Primarily, we need to be looking for answers that work for us as a species, as a whole and which take the entirety of our being, our make-up into consideration. Abraham Maslow gives us a solid foundation from which to expand our thinking.

Why do I use Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs so often in my articles? Because it informs us of a concept key to a successful life as a person or for a culture.

The Power of Mystification

Image: (c) Dazdraperma http://www.fotosearch.com

Mystification is the state we’re in after we’ve been mystified. According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to mystify is to: 1: to perplex the mind of; bewilder 2: to make mysterious or obscure. I venture most of us have been mystified at some time by the performance of a magician. When it is done for entertainment it can be enjoyable and leave us appreciative of the performer’s skills. Sometimes a teacher may mystify us as a means of introducing us to a subject. Once the teacher has caught our interest, they can proceed to instruct us in the discipline involved. Perhaps, this is the most common method of education in the natural world. However, the act of mystifying people isn’t always done with such a benevolent motive or positive results. Sometimes, in fact quite often these days, when we’re being mystified it is being done with a predatory motive.

First, it is important to understand that we, as human beings, all love to play. We love to be entertained. When I was young I was introduced to the axiom “Work before pleasure.” That guidance has undoubtedly sustained humankind throughout the centuries. However, it is often through play, during leisure time, that we reap the benefits of new ideas, creative thinking. We know that it is stimulation that leads our bodies, including our brains, to develop fully. Often during play, or leisure time, we follow the flights of fancy that one stimulation, or another, may have given birth to within us. Sometimes it is just a moment’s enjoyment. However, sometimes we find ourselves positively mystified by something we’ve experienced through our senses or within our imagination. I say “positively” because these are the times we are caught by an idea which we want to follow up on. An idea about how to do something in a more efficient manner, or about creating something. Possibly a tool, or perhaps a work of art. Sometimes mystification, followed up on, can lead us to positive, culture changing discoveries. I wonder if all new inventions and works of art begin with a person being mystified by something?

In fact, mystification has played such an important role in human development, I venture that we instinctively appreciate it and seek it out. In our earliest memories we find ourselves being mystified by about everything. To a very young person, even the actions of walking and talking are mystifying experiences. We are mystified, we learn, we accomplish. To our minds, in it’s most wholesome manifestation, mystification is akin to our bodies experiencing the aroma of a fine meal being prepared. First the tantalizing promise of a reality, then, with the application of disciplined effort, the realization of the promise.

We have, through time and personal experience, come to value mystification for it’s ability to lead us to new visions, new understandings. However, within the predatory business model which currently dominates commerce worldwide, the reality that mystification has a value has not been ignored. Today several entire industries utilize mystification routinely in their marketing and as a lever in their all too predatory pricing practices. Contemporary industries which strongly rely upon the public being mystified with their product in order to both attract customers and demand inflated prices include: communications technology: cellphones, computers, and related devices, many other high-tech industries, pharmaceuticals and many other medical devices and practices.

In the middle of the 20th century the use of mystification as a mass marketing tool was possibly pioneered by the movie industry. But over time, increased familiarity with the product and it’s means of production, have resulted in a general demystification with the movie industry. However, a good story, well told, can still draw an audience.

From a developmental perspective, a major problem with the way mystification is being used by industries today is that unlike the process in which it occurs within nature, as a part of process of benevolent development, within many industries mystification is being used as a component of an extremely predatory business model. There’s no developmental “payoff” included nor intended. Just an ongoing demand for exorbitant prices on the part of the industry.

Which brings us to possibly the most culturally damaging effect this use (misuse?) of mystification is having in the world. Like the addicts who pay extortionate prices to illicit drug dealers for a fix, we are paying extortionate prices to the industries who have mystified us with their products and the short term satisfaction we often get with their use. I say “short term” because that’s what it is. Whether we’re referring to the instantaneous stimulation we get from video games and various electronic technology, or the temporary immunity offered by vaccinations (versus the permanent immunity from a naturally occurring immune response). We’re apparently transfixed by these products, their complexity, their mystifying actions (and the promises our subconscious infers based in evolutionary history). So we keep paying, and paying and paying to access them. We pay extortionate cable fees, internet fees, game rentals, equipment costs. As far as pharmaceuticals go we often pay exorbitant costs for the product’s development and then the extortionate costs demanded for the product.

It must be noted these aren’t the only products which have managed to mystify great numbers of people resulting in demands for exorbitant prices for the products. Some others in the U.S. include professional sports/athletes and “superstar” entertainers. Also Las Vegas and other extravagant, mystifying gambling houses. All of these enterprises rely upon mystification in the marketing of their products.

So what? Isn’t it just the way it is that businesses charge as much as they can? What’s wrong with that? What are you, some kind of idealist?

There is a concept that is important to grasp. It is the concept of a body working in balance, in harmony, as opposed to a body in which the various components of the body are fighting with each other for vital resources. If an organ, or group of cells, within our physical body goes on a campaign of inordinate growth, that is often a case of what we call cancer. Left unchecked it will result in the demise of the body it is occurring within. What is important, vital, to grasp is that the same principle is at work when we increase the scale we are looking at. The same principle applies when we’re looking at families, cultures, nations. Balance and harmony indicate a healthy body. Whether that body is a tribe, town, city, nation or planetary culture. If some component of the whole begins working to acquire inordinate amounts of the vital resources required by all, that is a symptom of a condition of disease and left unchecked will result in the demise of the body it is occurring within.

As with other aspects of what it is to be human, such as pleasure, mystification is a vital, important part of our lives. However, if we allow an inordinate amount of our personal time, energy, and material resources, or our collective time, energy and material resources, to be captured in a single minded pursuit of mystification, other vital areas of our lives, we ourselves, are going to suffer for it. On a cultural level, other professions are going to find the vital contributions they make to the sustaining of our lives, our communities, going undervalued, or ignored. Farmers, teachers, janitors, construction workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, store clerks, restaurant workers, sanitation workers, police, firefighters, healthcare workers of myriad disciplines, all these contributors to our personal and cultural wellbeing and more, will find, are finding, their ability to earn a decent living increasingly diminished. Diminished because we are allowing a few to acquire too much of what is needed for the good of the whole. In part because we are captured by the mystification we experience when accessing their products.