Helen’s Rant (Issue 2)


goinggoing_bwOur world is not being ruined by heinous psychopaths, it’s being ruined by nice people like us. The psychopaths run the greedy corporations, but we are the ones who support them. We are the consumers, and we are addicted to a lifestyle that is not sustainable.

Some of us are more aware and more pro-active than others, but we are all the products of our cultural upbringing and find it very difficult to pay the real prices of what we consume.

Why is this? Are we not good people?

We are good people, but we have been brought up in a culture of competition, negative judgements, acquisitive behaviour and blinkered vision. We suspend our anxiety by shopping. Unwittingly we have become slaves to affluence. We are uneasy without our steady diet of goodies. Our ability to think for ourselves has been stifled.

This culture has evolved because the move from a pastoral life to an industrial life has left families in disarray, and children are the most vulnerable of the victims. Then the children grow into the adults who determine the new culture.

We must work together to shift our culture from one of mindless self-destruction to one of mindful reclamation. This is a monumental shift, and we must all work and learn together using tools such as democracy and collaboration that are, in themselves, implicit in the mind-set needed for the change to occur.

Western society’s current lunge to ‘eco-green’ is fraught with danger because the culture of profit-making is turning it into a carnival of carbon credits and chic products that do not address the underlying problems of unbridled consumption and the growing gulf between the obscenely rich and the disenfranchised poor.

Many of us are working on projects that we are passionate about in order to keep hopelessness at bay. Every person’s effort is valuable. Every peace initiative, harm reduction endeavour, media balance attempt, and social equity effort is vital. We are all working towards the same end: peace, sustainable sources of sustenance, and respect for all.

When the crisis is so imminent, however, it is difficult to see the point of putting scarce resources into efforts that won’t pay off until our children are grown

If we are to have citizens who can think for themselves, be immune to vote-buying tactics, understand that no one is safe until we all are safe, and be secure enough to be generous and mindful, then we must rear our children in a way that supports these attributes.

Presently we are taking young people from their homes, often at a very early age, and subjecting them to the vagaries of the system. They might be nurtured by a kind and mindful person, but they might instead be supervised by someone who thinks children should be obedient, and not question authority.

Children needing childcare are particularly vulnerable. Their parents may observe a lovely setting, smiling adults and well-behaved children. They would have no idea what is being modeled, what behaviours are being sweetly extinguished, or what actions are being praised.

It is important to understand the effects of early experiences. Children must make sense of their surroundings, so they are constantly making judgements that then become part of the lens with which they view the world. If pandering to adults seems the best way to get their needs met, then that is what they will do. It doesn’t take long to turn a child into a devious little weasel. It doesn’t take long for a child to conclude that tuning out and never questioning are the best strategies to deal with adults who are long-winded and overbearing.

If, however, the adults in their lives are open to hearing what is really going on in their minds, and can hear with ease their mean thoughts and greedy desires, as well as their deep compassion and generous impulses, then those adults are more likely to be told the truth, and the children will be less likely to split into two people: the person they show when adults are around, and the person they believe they really are. They will be able to find their true selves much more easily.

Knowing yourself, accepting yourself, and being true to yourself are the pre-requisites to being genuinely considerate.

We, the walking wounded of this dysfunctional culture, have had to learn to resist the temptations dangled by the corporate agenda. We have had to intellectually understand that our greedy consumption will lead, in our lifetimes, to system collapse. We have had to live with guilt because our ecological footprint is so much out of balance with that of third world countries. Many of us continuously downsize, donate to charities, work on sustainability committees and work on our personal issues to the best of our abilities.

Obviously will-power and good intentions are not enough.

If we are to have a citizenry who will be able to live within their ‘fair-portion’ means, then we need to raise young people who do not have the yawning chasms of need that our up-bringing has saddled us with. We need to have young people who have grown up in a society that consciously supports people to be who they are, accept who they are, and live with integrity. These are the people who will quite naturally consider others — not because they have been taught to do this, but because they are so comfortable themselves, they can afford to be generous to others. They will not be driven by anxiety, riddled with doubt, frantic with desire, and guilty, guilty, guilty.

We must provide childcare and schooling that is truly respectful to our young people. We need to provide an environment where they think about real issues on a daily basis. They need to work out their social issues with minimum direction but with plenty of support and clear boundaries.

During their formative years they should be continuously making decisions that directly affect their lives. They shouldn’t be made to feel stupid because they can’t do mathematical algorithms. They should be putting their minds to solving problems they are knowledgeable about, such as how to share the Lego wheels and who should be in the Variety Show.

They should be able to engage in the running of their schools, and make decisions about the rules. They should be practising democracy on a daily basis, using the problems that come up in their real lives.

The traditional methods of education are supporting the corporatocracy instead of empowering its future citizenry. We must press for publicly-funded educational initiatives that are community-run, collaborative, and sensitive to individual children. We pay the piper, it’s time we called the tune.

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