Just because you’re proud of who you are,
Doesn’t mean you hate other people.
(…though many people do).
Just because you’re proud of who you are,
Seek to be understood by others
But do not seek to understand others.
Assume that you are understood by others
Whilst not seeking to understand them.
You don’t own anything.
You are merely the custodian of it
Until you or the thing in question no longer exists.
Everything’s on loan from the universe
Even your body.
Photo by hernanpba
One of the negatives of light pollution
Is that it stops you from remembering
That you live in the universe.
Photo by See-ming Lee (SML)
There’s that old saying:
“Money can’t buy happiness”
The phrase is incorrect.
Though it perhaps serves a purpose:
Helping those of us who don’t have enough money
To feel better about things.
Here are some examples where money can buy happiness:
There is the first, obvious, example:
Money has the ability to alleviate your material needs
(…emphasis here on your ‘material needs‘, not your ‘material wants‘)
These include a roof over your head
And food in your belly.
This, by default,
Will increase your happiness,
By curtailing the things that make you unhappy.
Things like being hungry and exposed to the elements.
Photo by Christopher Combe Photography
Disregarding the obvious and logical question
Around exactly how much you really need…
(…answers on a postcard, please)
This alone is a pretty good argument
For redistributing some wealth
From those who have ‘more than they know what to do with’
(…people who are long past the point where additional money creates any improvement)
To those who need only a little more to be noticeably happier.
I take the oft-cited example
Of the über-wealthy person
Who spends millions on luxury goods
That he’ll soon tire of.
Put another way
Why buy another shitty piece of modernist art
When you could feed an entire village,
Somewhere in the developing world
For a long time?
I don’t know.
That’s the subject for another day, and I’ll leave it here.
Money can buy happiness another way too.
One that is tied closely to the first.
This, of course, is
(…with a few caveats.)
Studies seem to show that
Charity can make the giver very happy
The money is given voluntarily
In ways that the giver can see
Tangibly benefit the recipient(s).
In this way
Having more money (than you actually need) can make you happy.
You have to give lots of it away
And see the good that it’s doing in the world
Seems like a pretty good argument for giving more, don’t you think?
Cover photo by Hipnos
We celebrate diverse* perspectives
But with limits.
We can’t celebrate diversity around
Our core values
Such as ‘not killing people who disagree with you’.
As such, diversity can’t really be considered an absolute
That we either ‘have’, or ‘don’t have’.
It’s more a matter of degree – about how many perspectives that we are ‘willing’ to allow.
Or how many perspectives are ‘practical’ within
Where we draw the line between ‘acceptable’ and ‘not’
Helps to draw a distinction between cultures.
If ‘our’ line and ‘their’ line
The cultures will probably have trouble ‘getting along’.
Photo by vwcampin
With thanks to Sam Harris for the idea
*Please note, I refer to diversity of perspectives, not ‘intersectional’ diversity.
Cover Photo by La caverne aux trésors
Here’s a thought:
When was the last time someone said something
That actually made you change your mind?
If you don’t remember, that’s OK.
It seems normal,
Based on the very small, very informal research that I’ve done.
Making a note next time it happens
You’ll probably notice that it doesn’t happen very often.
If ever at all.
And why is that, anyway?
If we look at the modern world,
The global labour market
And the relentless forward march of technology.
The fundamental growing economic problem
Appears to be
An increasing ‘oversupply’ of humans.
Here’s what I mean;
The trend of ‘human obsolescence’ seems to show
That less and less of us are ‘necessary’
From an economic perspective.
But, as we know,
There are more and more humans
More every year, in fact.
The question is, really,
Barring people making the conscious decision to ‘breed less’
(…which seems doubtful on aggregate)
What shall we do with this growing ‘oversupply’ of humans?
I don’t have answers
Though it would seem like
Some massive, mandatory redistribution of wealth would be required
From the few who are still ‘economically relevant’
To the many who are not.
And if not,
What becomes of the ‘have nots’?
And all of this
Is to say nothing of
The resources we continue to use up
The damage we do to the world
And all the spaces
That we swallow with concrete.
And it all goes without saying,
That there’s far more to life
Than being ‘economically useful’.
Disclaimer: this is quite unpleasant if you think through it properly.
Imagine the far future
Imagine yourself long gone.
Imagine the person that you’re with
The person that you love (we assume?).
On their deathbed
Old, fragile, perhaps a little senile
Life ebbing away
Life flashing by.
In their delirious last hours
As they cry out your name
What would you want them to say about you?
How would you want them to remember you?
Resolve to be more like that person from now on.
Photo by arriba
There is a tendency
To think of people
More as ‘consumers’ than ‘citizens’
Though it wasn’t always this way.
As a result, you’re expected to consume (i.e. ‘take’)
Not to contribute (i.e. ‘give’)*
Or, dare I say,
You’re expected to contribute through consuming.
The result of this
This could be seen as
A zero-sum game:
Economy vs environment.
If you don’t buy, the economy suffers
If you do buy, the planet suffers
(…though this largely depends on how/what you consume, I suppose).
And it creates another issue.
An ‘all take, no give’ approach to existence
Which is existentially bankrupt.
It’s tied to a crisis of meaning
That I think has something do with
Why the people who have so much
Are often so unhappy.
We have a class of hard-working people
Who feel that their work has no meaning
Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Like many of us
These people want to contribute
They want to give
They want to be part of something meaningful
But feel that they can’t
Is towards consumption.
And the fact that they’re all so fucking busy
All of the fucking time.
Keeping it all going.
Sure, there are transcendent moments
And exceptions to the routine:
Raising a child
Perhaps volunteering in one’s limited free time
Things like that.
But these are mere brief interludes
In the perennial workday.
And much of this, I think,
Comes down to this idea that everyone’s a ‘consumer’
Not a ‘contributor’, or a ‘citizen’.
You give so much of your time and energy
And you want something back for it in return.
But when you sell off
Too much of your time and your energy
You come to realise that
There’s not enough money in the world to justify what you’ve done.
And you can’t get it back.
And maybe by this point
You don’t have anything left to give anyway.
This is what ‘being’ a consumer has done to you.
*with the exception, perhaps, of making your tax contributions
Cover photo by