Post #2: Blog Themes

Is everyone happy?


Pretty easy question to answer, right? Why are people not happy? Well, the vast majority of the sources of people’s unhappiness are caused by… people.


Governments and corporations and practices and policies and distribution systems and monetary systems and wars and social injustice and the wealth divide and just plain old day to day interactions and even our own desires and expectations are the source of most of our unhappiness.


That’s great!


It means we have the power to solve the vast majority of the unhappiness in the world!


What are some of the major problems that we are facing and will be facing in the near future? Mounting debt and economic decline, environmental destruction, resource depletion, overpopulation, soil erosion, pollution, etc. again mostly or entirely caused by us. And again, that’s great! Because that means solutions are entirely within our control.


What’s not so great is that you probably can’t fix all (or any) of that by yourself. Even the issues in our own lives feel almost  insurmountable. So what’s one to do?


Well, individually we can’t be the solution, but we can be one of a group of people making a collective difference in one, a few, or even all of the areas listed. Where you’re at and what your skills and interests are will determine what your individual options are, but in this blog we’ll look at the general themes in our lives that contribute to the above problems and look at big picture solutions that have nothing but benefits in every area of our lives.


Let’s take a brief look at just one example of an overriding theme, which I’ll be going into more detail in later posts, as well as other similar overriding themes that have positive repercussions in all aspects of one’s life and relationships and society and for the environment. The first overriding theme we’ll take a quick look at is “isolation”. Isolation is at the root of many of the above problems, and being more connected in many areas of our lives is an amazing solution. However you chose to increase connections, it will offer a huge number of rewards on many levels. Society, as it stands, seems to be designed on almost every level to keep us from deeply connecting with each other, our lives, our possessions and our food. Almost everything we do or have, comes from or is managed by some institution, from our entertainment, to the water we drink, to foreign manufacturing companies making everything we buy, to our food growing hundreds or thousands of miles from where we live, to the massive amounts of energy we consume, to the handling of our waste, it’s all handled by people we don’t know, by processes we don’t usually understand, in places we never see. Even the way we communicate is now through artificial interfaces more than face to face. Social media can be a tool to help us connect more (sending frequent updates and photos to your grandma in a different country, and video chatting with her on the weekends), but our hunger for communication now drives many of us to a screen rather than to direct interaction. I’ve texted my wife from the next room, and while I don’t see that as a big deal, I wonder if the very fact that I don’t see that as a big deal says more than the action itself.


Let’s go into a bit more detail in just one area – the production of everyday items in our house. Look around your house at everything you own. Do you actually know where any of it came from? Or what went into making it? Do you think if you learned more about what went into making the things in your house you’d feel really good about it all? And what does any of it mean to you? Most things are judged by utility, aesthetic and how much it would cost to replace.


Pick one thing in your house (not electronics) as your eyes rove across the room you’re in, could be the table or your pot on the stove or  a knitted throw. How would you feel about it if you had a beautiful, handmade version of it, where you knew the person who made it? If you knew where they sourced the material from? If you knew the care and expertise that went into making it? And if you knew it was of such high quality materials, design and craftsmanship that it would last generations? Wouldn’t that be amazing! For many of us these days, this exercise takes some effort and imagination, because many of us don’t own a single item like this! So take your time and really think about how that would make you feel.


We can imagine having that one object be something we are so connected to and that we have such a personal relationship with, and have it be so beautiful and work so well that you’d feel very upset if it was stolen or broken. Even if we had plenty of money to buy a replacement, it just wouldn’t be the same. What if almost everything you owned was like this?


And what would the “knock on” effects be if this was the case for the majority of people for the majority of their possessions? Industrial productivity would shrivel because many items would only need to be bought once every few generations (especially if the population is holding steady or shrinking). What would this do to the amount of resources being harvested? What would that do to the environmental toll of harvesting and production and shipping of the products? In order to know the manufacturer, it would usually have to be someone fairly local, not shipped from halfway around the world. And if a fraction of the amount of products are being made, that means producers/manufacturers have that time needed to make higher quality products, and lower demand on resources would mean quality resources are less expensive. And higher quality products would fetch a higher price so the builder could make a similar amount of money. However, what wouldn’t work as well is corporations running the whole thing and making money off low skill labour and resource exploitation and making crappy products that have a short lifespan, but which owners never care about anyway so are happy to just chuck them in a landfill and get a new one when it fails since it’s so cheap anyway. Call that a downside if you can!


So here is one overriding theme applied to one area of life, that most of us could start doing today, that would have an ongoing, widespread, positive impact on all areas of our life and society and the environment.


We’ll be exploring more of these themes, and how you can start applying many of them, in coming posts. The thing is, the real solution is all of these ideas put into practice and working together in a self-reinforcing system. But a blog, and our brains, can only look at each piece of the puzzle in isolation (which, remember, is not a good thing). So I encourage you to keep reading, and as you do, start to imagine what the “big picture” would look if we all started living according to all these principles and had them working together (though even one of us just applying some of them in some small areas of our lives will still lead to benefits – it’s not “all or nothing”!).
Don’t forget to subscribe!