Monday, May 18, 2015

sharing the wishing well

A wishing well is found.

For everyone who takes a sip of water from the well a wish of the natural gifts of the world is granted.

At first the well is known only to a small group of people but as they tell their friends the number of people grows.

As the number grows people start to notice that the taste of the water begins to grow bitter and wishes too start to become tainted and incomplete.

One wise person then asks for their wish to be guidance on how to restore the well to its natural abundance of good wishes and they are rewarded with an inspiration to do just that.

The answer to restoring the well lies in two challenges.

The first challenge is to restore the surrounding area to its previous conditions before the people came and trampled on the natural beauty. People can continue to come in the same volumes, and even increasing, but the space around the well requires an investment of labor to ensure that the physical space is of equal caliber as the gift of the well.

The second way to restore the well is to bring special flowers and drop them in the well. The problem is that these flowers are not plentiful near the well and are spread out across the land. For the volumes to come they would need to ask that all who came would bring the flowers with them to contribute.

Upon learning of these solutions the original group of people who had first learned of the well gathered to discuss what must done.

Some argued that if they were going to labor to restore the land around the well to its natural beauty that only they should know the secret of the flowers so that only they would have their wishes granted.

Others argued that only if they involved all people would they be able to maintain the well and surrounding area to the standards expected.

Others argued that the outsiders should be expected to bring more flowers than them and they could have wishes but their extra flowers would be payment for their labors.

One voice argued that they should share the well, the labors and flowers expected with all. If someone came in need of the wishing well but was unable to provide either labor or flowers they would not be denied.

When their meeting had concluded they agreed to keep the secrets of the wishing well renewal to themselves. They would repair the landscape around the well. For those outsiders who learned of the well they would charge a surcharge. The surcharge would go into their own benefit of the well.

As the years passed the original group struggled with the maintenance of the wishing well and surroundings and they found that they put less and less effort into collecting their own flowers and more and more effort into increasing surcharges on others.

The well became bitter again and the original group simply stayed on near the well because they felt entitled to everything and anything that would come it.

Some years flowers would be plentiful or someone with skills with the land would restore the well and area but nothing was sustained.

Then a strange thing happened.

A stranger, who did not believe in the powers of the well, came with a friend. That stranger did not drink of the well but did witness how beauty seemed to be lurking in the shadows around the well. It seemed as though the beauty was desiring to explode from the natural space but was kept held back by the ugliness of abuse that the land had endured.

The stranger also saw the hope in people when they came to the well, hoping for a refreshing drink that would grant their wish.

Finally, the stranger met the entitled who hung over the well waiting for their next easy wish. He saw how they desired to keep the wishing well and its powers to themselves but that they new that they required the flowers of the others to keep the well producing.

The stranger then met with the appointed custodian and asked about the maintenance of the well. The custodian had grown tired of games that the entitled asked of them. They worked to give access to all who would see their wishes from the well but they knew that the entitled were holding captive some of the greatest potential for the well.

The stranger was perplexed. The stranger did not believe in wishes but was very curious about what the entitled were not sharing with everyone else.

The stranger could just leave, but something made them curious about the mysteries of the well and why some people so badly craved a wish to be granted for them.

What was the stranger to do?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

anniversary

Silently we move through a yearly cycling around the sun. Along the way we pass locations on that path that are memorable to us. They are memorable more by what happened there in a different cycle than by the location itself.  Round and round we go visiting the same route each time but the history of what took place in that spot helps to remind us that interesting things do happen on this journey that takes us no where.

Our spaceship is locked in an orbit around the sun repeating our opportunity to get our story right.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

truth or comfort?

Do we all have trust issues with people or groups? 

For me, one example of an issue I have with trusting people is with those who we are supposed to trust at fixing our vehicles. I believe that I have experienced, on repeated occasions, where a vehicle has gone in for servicing and in the weeks that followed that vehicle experienced new problems that before the visit did not exist. This just happened to me again, and I fixed the problem myself but I am becoming very suspicious about tampering. Now, I don't trust them and I am looking for a new garage for my vehicles. I find this problem pervasive in so many areas of my life. Do I have trust issues or are people less deserving of trust?

Transactions or Performances?

Things in our lives that should be merely transactional, and based on quantitative objective information, can quickly become subjective, shrouded in colourful drama that evokes emotions and behaviours.

A simple example to illustrate. You go to the store and you can choose between two kinds of coffee. They both have a packaging designed to make you choose their brand. For the sake of this example, lets say that the product inside is virtually identical but one brand is 20% more money than the other brand. The more expensive brand's package sells a coffee "experience" that tells you that it is the best for waking up in the morning and so you choose that brand. In reality, you got the same coffee but paid 20% more based entirely on an emotional response to advertising, not a real difference.

This is a small example but it's part of our problem in that we cannot trust the company to be truthful in their information to us.  Instead of truth, the company appeals to our preferences to choose based on comfort.

I point the finger at a commercial organization here but it occurs at the individual level regularly too.

The employee who comes in late and says they will make up the time.  You trust them to do it so you don't watch their every move but they may not make up the time. The buddy who you help out who says he will repay you the favour but seems to always be busy when you need it returned. The neighbour who says they will watch your house while you are away on vacation and quickly takes in your mail and flyers from your bursting mailbox on the morning before your return.  We continually disrespect trust relationships with others for our own comfort by creating the illusion that we are making good on our commitment to truth.

Fictions (aka untruth that entertains us) have become a vital part of financial wealth accumulation. As consumers and employees in the marketplace what we accept for comfort is vital to the ease with which those in power can increase their wealth.   Making promises of your comfort,  so you will sacrifice your time or money, taking little in return is how the game is played. We are't stupid though, we know the deal is not in our favour for either payment for our time or goods/services received in exchange for our money. We can be quite focused on participating in the fiction though because no one wants to admit that they let themselves be taken in and have become part of the fraud. No one wants to admit that they knowingly let themselves be screwed and the effort required to fight back can be time consuming. 

This reality, that we are required to trust people with our stuff, our money and our well being, is a real issue today. Why is it an issue?
  • people are taking your money by abusing that trust and over charging you, making bad investments, or playing with your money. 
  • people are causing us fear and anxiety with scenarios that should be transactional. 
  • people pray upon those fear and anxieties to sell you things/services you don't need
  • people are playing with information to create an emotional response to gain power or position that affects you. 
  • people are leveraging your desire for that comfort so that you accept a fiction as truth and move on.
  • etc, etc. 
Is there any wonder we don't trust politicians but we do little to change when they defy the good of the common people?  Is there any wonder we continue to be part of systems and processes where we feel taken advantage of when we know we could make a change?

We choose to look the other way when we get ripped off because we want to preserve our comfort. We don't want to deal with the truth because confrontation is not comfortable. 

We choose comfort because the truth hurts. 

To all those who choose to challenge and confront the un-truth and forsake their comfort I salute you. I hope that I can continue to strive to more as well and fight my urge to relax and be entertained. 



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Thursday, February 26, 2015

living vicariously

I am going to say that living vicariously through someone else or a fictional character deepens the divide between the have and the have nots.

Living vicariously through others.

If we choose to experience our pleasure or entertainment through watching someone else in a role, in a game, a race, etc, etc we can cheer them on and celebrate with them when good things happen. It's a very exciting premise to be a part of their good times, advertures and drama.

However, when that character is killed off, that player starts to lose their age, driver no longer wins or any other number of problems with continuing success we do not have to be part of their downfall or failure. We can detach ourselves from this "person" that we have aligned ourselves with and move onto another.

On the flip side, if we take on an endeavour ourselves, building up to that positive result is hard work, scary and challenging to us. Worse yet, if it doesn't go well we feel the pain and discomfort of it not going well.  

Whether it's a quest for knowledge, learning new skills, building, competing, playing, walking, etc, etc there are a million different activities that a person can participate in and they can all go well, or go badly.

When success is achieved it's much more powerful for us than being a viewer into that success and if failure does occur, while painful, we get the full learning experience from that failure.

Sadly, I think the situation gets worse with time.

The longer we go on living through fictional characters, celebrities, sports figures and the like, the more likely we are to lose our physical and mental edge that would help us maintain confidence in the face of challenge when taking on experiences ourselves.  Our comfort zone reduces and things that should not freighten us do resulting in an experience tainted with negativety because our expectations for the experience were not based on reality, but rather someone's reality.

By living vicariously through others too much, we become less of a participant and more of a viewer until the day we die when we can only say that our life was spent in employment to pay for the privledge of watching others participate in life.

I would continue to say that while much of our society would argue that financial wealth is the greatest achievement to strive for I think the "have nots" are actually missing out more on life experiences than on wealth.   It has become a social norm to entertain oneself primarily through viewing others engaged in something. Whether it's real people or characters in a show, movie or video game it's extremely common to have this lifestyle of viewing as where the most time is spent.

I don't understand.

I quest for knowledge, experiment, experience and expression so much so that I really don't know what is going on in pop culture. I don't know what's "good" on TV these days or which movies are doing well at the box office and I don't bing watch on Netflix. The result is I am unable to participate in conversations around the "water cooler" but that doesn't make me sad.

What makes me sad is that it seems to be harder to find people who can talk about science, making, building, the arts, society, history, etc, etc.

What kind of world will my children find themselves participating in as adults? Will anyone talk about real life or will that be saved for a small portion of society running the system that we are contained within?

Thanks for reading. 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

lets do this 1 - stop racism 2 - replace it with cool stuff

I live in the very center of North America in a very special place called Winnipeg.
Winnipeg exemplifies the term diversity like no other city.
We have diversity in our weather ranging from minus 30c to plus 30c.
We have diversity in our industries, agriculture, housing, recreation, etc, etc.
We also have diversity in our peoples.

Recently, a national magazine in Canada labeled us as the most racist city.

To begin with, I really hate labels and I mean hate in the true sense of the word.  I believe when we apply a label we create further angst in people because of how they/we identify with that label.  Labels are too simple in general and in this case a label of racist is absolutely too simple.

Our community is vibrant and working to survive and thrive, like any other. We have the same disease as any city in that sometimes we choose to see our fellow citizens as competition. Rather than assigning threat to the system of wealth that we are engulfed in we assign a threat to peoples. Like the people before us in history we are more comfortable assigning that label of “threat” to the people we do not know and as such we easily choose those people groups with cultures that are not like our own.

We must to strive to educate each other on the realities that we are the same in more ways than we are different. We must stop the competition amongst us on the basis of cultural practices and histories. We must stop because it is hurting our community and those that benefit are others outside of our community. Other cities and communities benefit from us fighting with each other. Why would we give them that advantage? Why would we let racial tensions eat away at our limited resources to empower ourselves?  We need to build trust amongst stuff.

As we build this trust with each other, connecting communities of different cultural practices, we must align ourselves together as a geographic group to tackle the real competition, the systems that would deny us the opportunity to grow and survive as people. We all deserve to have access to the best education opportunities whether working towards a degree or learning to cook new food dishes from around the world. We all deserve to have opportunities to create and partake in a plethora of artistic experiences. We all deserve to have quality leisure time and interesting activities in our community that go beyond the hopelessness of just watching a screen and living vicariously through other, mostly fictional, lives. All of these things we deserve to be accessible, affordable and available to all citizens of our community.

None of us would actually like a world where we all looked the same, dressed the same and behaved the same, no matter how safe and secure that might sound to some. We need to not look at the colour of skin, accents, styles or the practices of others as things to assign negativity to but rather as things to be thankful for as part of a colourful world. People are the most amazing works of art on our planet and we need to remind ourselves that artwork is better when each piece is different.  

We need our community to be so engrossed in working together that we grow out of these old systems of competitions against other people groups. We need to make our community a safe place for everyone where we are engaged in this task in collaboration and cooperation with each other regardless of our culture background or practices.

In summary:

  1. Educate ourselves on how we are the same
  2. Build opportunities for learning, leisure, arts and activities that help us grow into peoples who see important values in people beyond our appearances and cultural practices.
  3. Celebrate the colour in our appearances and practices as things that make the world more interesting.

So say we all!

P.S. I want to address this label of racist or racism. We need to stop talking about each other as if we are from a different race, we are all part of the human race. I will not say any more but instead link you to the video comments of Edward James Olmos:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Protecting and Growing the Common Good

Part of my disgust with society, and the way we attempt to demonstrate how one group is better than another, is the resulting loss of space on earth to private ownership and/or control.

I truly believe that one way for us to learn to understand each other is to share common space together regularly.

Important common spaces like parks and libraries are so crucial to embrace both nature, knowledge and the human experience together.