A Killer Addiction


The addiction I’m refering to is not an obvious one. In fact, on the contrary, it is one that is not only widely, accepted but extremely encouraged. It is one that has seeped so deeply into our consciousness that we barely recognise its there. But it is there, guiding our actions and choices every day and dictating our path in life. In fact it’s safe now to say that most spend their entire lives feeding it without ever recognising they need treatment. It is the silent killer whom, we, in the west have been arming for the last century.

The addiction I’m talking about is almost impossible to avoid in today’s world. It glares from every corner; the television screen when we get home; the smartphone we rarely let go of; even from the innocent by standers on the road. It is so powerful; it inevitably creeps into just about every conversation and interaction we have. It is an addiction that has seen us turn our backs to the values that are most natural to us such as; compassion; understanding; progression; the need to live a purposeful life but most of all to endure and protect each other as well as our precious environment. Instead, like every addiction it has brought out the worst in us; Greed; selfishness; disregard for one another; aggression; psychosis; exploitative tendencies; blind arrogance; ignorance and detachment from our surroundings. (Just to scratch the surface).

Like all addictions, this one is also driven primarily by our need to fill a void; to distract our senses from the life we live in that is an irrational circus at best and an empty deprived existence at worst. It is like any other addiction in that a hit provides temporary relief from a reality where freedom is just another myth among many others. Each time the addiction is fed; we experience the kind of superficial high that makes us feel that we have instantly bettered ourselves; and just as with every addiction, the satisfaction wares of quickly and we jump straight back into the hunt for some more gratifying moments; If you look at the world around us, you will quickly realise that this addiction is the root of all dysfunctions in us as individuals; the societies we a part of; and the world. Unfortunately having grown up in the 21st century, we are all addicts to varying degrees. There is likely not a single one of us that has managed to dodge this addiction mostly due to our intrinsic need to belong and be a part of something bigger. This destructive addiction currently provides the basis for our sense of belonging and expression.

The addiction I am referring to is Consumerism. Never in all the history of human kind have we all been addicts of something so dangerous and destructive. This addiction is unique in that, unless treated will end in our collective demise as well as that of our precious planet. Looking at the world around us, it is hard to ignore that consumerism has indirectly or directly paralysed every single path to future betterment. It has polluted our consciousness and corrupted our values to such an extreme that we have become desensitised to our brothers and sisters in the third world who are dying as a direct result of it. Being a shopaholic is therefore more destructive than alcoholism; drug abuse; and any other addiction put together a thousand times over. It is in fact an addiction that has given birth to all other addictions and must be treated at its core.

So, my fellow human beings, It is now down to you.

PROGRESSING PAST THE LEFT AND RIGHT

Anyone who knows anything about politics in the 21st century is well aware that the left and right are two arms belonging to the same body and that neither should be used as a frame of reference for what is right and wrong; not only because in practice they both operate to serve the almighty dollar first and foremost but also because labels alone are stereotypes and can be viewed negatively in themselves without considering what they represent.

It fascinates me the way people are always using these in the box terms (lefty; right wing; tree hugger, hippy) to generalize points of view on themes of social justice as if it means something. Just because you are compassionate towards the world around you does not automatically make you someone that identifies with the left; maybe you are just a decent person? It is apparent however that people and the media have a need to categories individuals into a familiar term to simplify a standpoint and particularly so if a perspective or individual is not fully understood or identified with. Unfortunately labels such as hippy and tree huger are today often used as an argument to debunk often valid points of view which are in opposition with the current establishment.

In his latest stand-up show, Russell Brand warns his audience not to be terrified of the word communist as it simply means “sharing”. This is a great example of how powerful labels can be. People in the west have to actually be warned not to instantly reject such terms as communism, often without even realizing it comes from the word communal/community; something that is familiar to us all in both practice and theory.

This may be one of the reasons it is so refreshing to listen to one of Russell Brand’s rants which serve to promote what is humane first and foremost in a way that is completely devoid of paradigms and political labels. While Brands message strongly promotes social change, you will rarely hear him use political frameworks to support his arguments. I feel that this is one of the reasons he appeals to the general public so much more than the average politician. Let’s face it political frameworks of the past such as capitalism, communism, socialism; any type of “ism for that matter are outdated and limiting in their scope. Using them as frameworks and labels is crippling to progress not only because we have seen them, and continue to see them all fail but because categorizing people and views as either left right or in between leaves no room for progressing past these particular schools of thought.

In conclusion; labels such as lefty and right wing are outdated; over generalizing; over assuming and tainted with propaganda which has been attached to them over decades and decades. It is not whether you choose to be right wing or left wing but whether you have a moral duty towards your fellow human beings or not. It is high time we incorporate social justice, common decency and the general well being of everyone and everything as a point of reference for human progress, not outdated political paradigms in our quest to solve world problems. This, in my mind is where all political debate should begin and end.

Power in Numbers

I was watching Edward Snowden talk about his incredible journey since he famously leaked a series of classified NSA documents back in 2013. It occurred to me that Edward, along with Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and a handful of others would all be facing imprisonment and prosecution of sorts for the remainder of their lives. Since we can agree that these individuals were acting out of moral duty and deserve to be made examples of; I ask myself if there is anything they could have done to spare themselves from such a bleak future. In an interview for the world press conference, Edward Snowden mentioned that he had discussed his plans with some of his colleagues; but what if he had gone further and rounded up a number of people from this organisation, all willing to share responsibility for leaking the truth out to the world. Would all of them have been fired and facing severe backlash from the NSA and US government? In this case Edward would no longer be a target, but a part of a critical mass of workers who are challenging the operations of their organisation. The answer to this question may solely depend on the number of workers willing to take part. I dare to argue that the larger amount of people, the bigger the impact of the message but smaller the consequence for each individual involved.

When we talk about a revolution, I feel that not enough credit is given to small-scale collectivized disobedience and the robust nature of this action. For example, Say I was in a tram one day with a couple of friends and we decided not to touch on to pay for our trip. The line of people behind me would have noted this and so decided they didn’t have to either. In turn, the people behind them might have noticed and decided they didn’t have to pay either since no –one else was. Soon the amount of passengers that have not paid for their trip grows to 100. On the way, the train inspector comes in and starts to check people’s tickets and quickly finds that out of the 100 people on the tram, barely anyone has paid their fare. Suddenly the train inspector’s authority and power is discredited by the overbearing number of people he is designated to hand out fines to. Let’s take this a step further, say a student or a few note this bizarre event and pass it onto their peers who pass it onto their friends. Suddenly the incident has reached various social media platforms and students have decided that they would all stop paying for their tram fares. Soon an entire student body has decided that they will no longer be paying as there was no consequence following from the first incident. As the trend progresses to more and more people, the law enforcement bodies are now a minority and therefore increasingly helpless to control the situation.

It is at this point that rules begin to crumble, come under questioning and scrutiny and inevitably need to be changed to suit people’s demands. While this hypothetical scenario may be far-fetched, it is only so due to people’s will to participate in what they know is right. For most of us, it is therefore not our moral campus that needs redirecting but our reluctance to participate in organised disobedience in fear of ending up like some of our heroes mentioned earlier. The point of course is that, had there been 20 Edward Snowden’s, Chelsea Manning’s and Julian Assange’s, the grounds for prosecution would have been considerably weakened with each growing number of individuals to the extent that it would no longer be applicable or even relevant. “This all sounds great in theory” I hear you say or think but actually policy changes that have come about as a direct result of civil disobedience are many, perhaps the most notable being the case of Iceland. The small country in Northern Europe that refused to participate in the banking crisis by simply coming together and saying “we are not paying a debt we are not liable for and one we never gave consent to”. While people of countries such as Greece and Cyprus (Who have suffered tremendously as a result) along with most of the world accepted the mounting debt caused by the 2008 financial crisis and continue to sink 7 years later, the people of Iceland jailed their bankers and overthrew their government by simply gathering in large numbers and firmly standing their ground in saying “NO”.

In conclusion; It is therefore not the rules that are imposed by the powerful that keeping us from moving forward but our own persistent belief and upholding of these rules that cement them in place through time. For the very minute we all collectively decide and agree we no longer want it that way, it is in that same minute that the foundations will crumble and inevitably pave the way for something better for all. The best part of collective action is that it can be applied to anything. All that is necessary is that enough people agree and come together. The solution is as simple as that; once this becomes widely adapted into practice, a critical mass will form and the possibilities to a brighter future will be endless.

You were right all along…..

Some of us have always sensed that there is something seriously wrong with the world around us. Since you have found yourself reading this article, I assume that you may well be one. If so than you should know that you are far from alone.

I have, in many ways, felt like an outsider most of my young adult life, looking skeptically in on the world around me, reluctant to move forward in the same mindless and often seemingly heartless direction I saw people going. Even though I grew up in Australia where most people did not have to work hard to achieve a fair standard of living, I felt very limited as my choices did not follow the status quoi and so I was immediately looked upon as lazy. It made me feel alienated and increasingly restless most of the time. I couldn’t grasp, despite all our glory and potential to think and question as human beings, how we all thoughtlessly abided by the same laws, rules; and ideals, living our lives by someone else’s standards and subjecting ourselves to the same routine of working 9-5 just so that we could fit in and consume, only to die at the end of it all.

As I know most people do, I couldn’t help but think that there had to be more to life then this trend of living to work that most people unconsciously succumbed to. I often thought about money and its power to control us. It became confusing to think about it too much considering it was nothing more than a piece of paper or numbers in a computer which had perceived value. From this perspective, I had a lot of trouble finding real meaning in its accumulation and as a medium of exchange in general provided it had no stand alone value to humans or their needs. In any event I could not justify spending 40 hours a week in a job simply because it paid well. Not long term anyway. As you can imagine, this sort of attitude left me feeling quite isolated from friends and family who often claimed I was lazy and lacking ambition.

These surface observations lead me to want to escape the world I found myself in and travel to other places in the world; mostly to get away but also in hope that I might get some answers about there being more to life. This, in turn inspired my decision to take on international studies and economics at university. However, even after four years of studying, travelling and obtaining my degree, the countless books I read and lectures I went to, I still could not explain why the world I saw around me was falling apart while people around me were going on about their daily lives. The knowledge I obtained did not marry up with my underlying observations about the world I lived in and so I felt even more confused.

At the heart of my confusion was the simple presumption that humans were predominantly well intentioned. If this was so (and based on my experience I strongly believed it was) then why was there so much inequality; violence, war fare deprivation and damage to the environment come about? My train of reasoning (As simplistic as it was) went something like this; if humans were mostly good then we were mostly well intentioned, and if we were well intentioned then our actions had to bring about, at least in part positive outcomes that resulted in our overall wellbeing . But if this was so then why did the outcome of human behavior on a global scale reflect the exact opposite?

The day it all became a little clearer was around the time I heard about the Global financial crisis. While these phenomena raised further questions for me, one thing became undeniably obvious; there was something wrong with the system we adhered to. Needless to say I was considerably relieved to come

to this conclusion for two reasons; One was that it did not rule out my presumption that, on an individual basis, we were mostly well intentioned and the other was the discovery that there was in fact a sea of evidence to back up my ever persisting suspicions about the status quoi and its limitations relating to our freedom as humans.

The way that I came to the conclusion that the system we abided to was fundamentally flawed at its very core was easy; I simply was not stupid enough to buy the story that human kind had somehow become hopeless victims of something that went wrong with the numbers in a software system we called Debt which we ourselves created and thus imposed on our own lives. It made no sense to me that the almighty politicians whose duty was to ensure our wellbeing were losing the battle with numbers in computers; all at the expense of human lives around the world. This lead to the inevitable question; couldn’t this “debt” simply be written off since it was simply a case of manipulating an information system? As you can tell, I did not know too much about what exactly was going on at that point, but one thing was blindingly clear; this picture had irrational insanity written all over it and if you know anything about market capitalism and the monetary system than you will recognize that unfortunately for us all my surface conclusions were not far from reality at all.

When I finally connected all the dots; it became clear that we as humans were not being given the chance to lead a meaningful life at all. Instead we were forced into a form of slavery to maintain our survival and status, all at the expense of others around us. On a global scale, this mentality in turn gave consent to the gravest form of exploitation of our finite planet and fellow humans in other parts of the world; all so that we (in the west) could continue to consume our useless crap in peace.

Please note that unless you know how the monetary system and market system work, this connection may not be entirely clear , however it was at this point that I truly woke up to the world that surrounded me. If you care to find out, please refer to the link below;

The people you meet will undoubtedly squirm at poverty violence and abuse that goes on locally, nationally or internationally, but how many of us will take responsibility for it? More likely than not a very small number. The reality is that the process of ignoring what goes on around us and busying ourselves with trivial themes has got us to where we are today. It was this very system that conditioned us to be so.

The point is this; we are all responsible for what goes on. We all contribute to the system that breeds evil which most of us would never even dare to fathom.