Change Yourself, Then Save the World

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“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
~~ Tolstoy

It’s unavoidable. It is your destiny…

Emperor Palpatine’s words to Luke Skywalker resonate with everyone who heard them because from the time we are young children, we are told we can change the world. It is something everyone grows up considering to be part of their personal manifesto.

Television adds to this mental framework showing us how it’s possible to acquire instant fame (just add water and social media), motivational gurus tell us we need to put it out into the universe and the universe will change to accommodate our desires (Pay for my secret methods, he says, it will help you get rich, he says.) Usually the only person getting rich is the guru. We are lead to believe changing the world is a simply want it to be different.

I suspect the problem with changing the world starts with this simple quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

Cassius:
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

Shakespeare hoped to convince his viewers that it’s not fate that determines our future. It’s our personal volition to take charge of our lives. This is where we come in to contact with an inherent instability in the system. Everyone wants to change the world to suit their perspective of it. Politicians believe they can lie the world into a shape they can control. Warlords believe they can kill their way to the top. Media stars dream of entertaining their way into power. Each believes their talent, their genius is just what the world needs.

If we’re so smart, why are things so screwed up?

Humanity is blessed and cursed with the idea that it is the most clever creature to have ever lived on Earth. We believe we have created technologies and systems so advanced that in a few years, they may begin thinking for themselves.

Unfortunately, while we postulate on the ideas of singularity and transcendence, quantum computers and the beginnings of the Universe, we wage war all over the planet.

We allow people who could be fed, to starve; we dump pollution everywhere in a consumer-driven orgy to create products out of flora and fauna alike. We turn living things into dead things for money and profit.

Makes you question how smart we think we are, doesn’t it?

While the ability to turn natural things into something that can be sold may be laudable and financially lucrative, it has cost us something, a thing so vital and yet so ephemeral, we don’t even recognize that we have lost it.

We have lost our connection to each other.

More importantly, we have lost our connection to ourselves.

Our cooperative drive to make the lives of other people better has been subsumed by our urge to read about Celebrity X or follow Basement Cat and Ceiling Cat memes.

We have turned the trivial into the important and the important has been hidden so the wealthy can acquire more wealth they can never spend, put greater distance between each other in their private enclaves on the hill.

This is an untenable future.

One where we watch the world burn, onscreen, in real-time, in the comfort of our homes, while forests are clear-cut, while children are enslaved, while coral reefs starve and great elephants are cut down for their tusks to make art and penile-enhancement poultices.

It’s not too late to make a difference.

By choosing to be connected to live people, to be invested in their lives and have their lives affect mine. By defying what has been said to be the natural order of things. By resisting the urge to hide, to cower in fears created by others, telling me how to live. I have helped people without profit being the primary goal.

I have changed the world, incrementally, one mind at a time. As a teacher and mentor, my goal is to change people touching one heart at a time. Sharing that transformation with others who see things need to change.

Most importantly, I am making the changes in me, I want to see in the world. I am aware of the constant need for personal change. You cannot make the world better if you choose to support the ideas that are corrupting it in the first place.

I have changed the world by teaching. By learning. My students are aware of the insidious nature of corporate powers who seek to demean them, imprison their minds, their hearts and their creativity in a never-ending cycle of consumption.

My students question authority. Even mine. They ask questions. They challenge all pretenses of authority, requiring it to validate itself through reason, through discourse, through interaction.

The modern world does its level best to prevent our youth from knowing anything; in the United States we price education beyond the reach of most. Those forces now realize if they can keep you clicking your smartphone in a self-celebratory masturbation, they can steal the future from beneath your feet.

The world cannot be changed by any single individual. That way lies madness. The only single individual you can change is you. Being the best you, that you can be will lend itself toward changing the world by proximity.

Change the World by Changing You

Release yourself from the mental prison so crafty created for you. Stop following worthless celebrities who produce nothing; your obsession with them absorbs your most precious of resources. The one thing you have a fixed and finite amount of and can never recover no matter how rich you become…

Your time.

Use your time, wisely. Read works that transform how you think. Experience life, share what you have with others, get out and see the world. Make your relationship to the world one you are excited about.

See the world as something worth having, worth saving. You can only save something you value.

Connect to people, not just on the internet, but in person. See them. Feel them. Know them. Become one with their dreams; value their hopes and ambitions the same way you value YOURS.

You see, in this lies the saving of the world.

If we spent less time finding differences, creating emotional disconnects, promoting fear and loathing, separation for exploitation sake, demonization of our unique natures, we would learn a truth those in power don’t ever want us to know:

We are more alike than different. That our collective fates lie in the hands of each other, more than anyone who believes they have power over us.

In truth, we are not trying to save the world. If science is to be believed, the world has existed for four billion years. It has had six extinction events where nearly all life on Earth was extinguished. Put in a different way, 90% of all Life that has ever walked the Earth has died.

And yet it is still here, teeming with billions of lifeforms engaging in a delicate dance of living and dying in harmony.

It is likely, that even if we make the Earth an inhospitable ball of burning of burning toxic waste, killing all of humanity, the world will find an equilibrium and return to being as fecund as it always has.

We are not trying to save the world.

We are trying to save ourselves – from extinction.

Be protean, be open to changing yourself. Be willing to adapt how you see people you don’t know. Eat a meal you do not know, with a person you didn’t know yesterday. Such ripples are what the future is made of.

So often the complaint goes something like this: “Changing myself won’t make a difference and I sure as hell don’t have any faith in man to change on its on in my lifetime or the next. Evil exist and controls this world. People are sheep, lead by the elite programmed, manipulated, divided, structured in such a way to serve them. You are Borg, you are assimilated, resistance is futile. Just my humble opinion.”

No one asked you to change your mind, you are free to stay exactly the same as you are. But Einstein had a point: “You cannot change the world with the mind that created it.” The future comes from thinking differently, creatively. “Imagination is greater than Intelligence.”

People are often sheep, but not all of them: Fighting back takes will, independence, strength of spirit and character. Things most people don’t realize they even possess until something forces it out of them.

Evil IS prevalent but not OMNIPRESENT: The fact you can make your statement and not find a neo-Gestapo police force breaking down your door for making it means it is still a world where choices can be had.

People ARE divided but still find time for what they think is important: Judging from the quiet protests in the streets, some people are UNITING for a better world.

We are not Borg. If we were, we would all be doing the same thing, in the same ways, with no need for things like social media to share our perspectives. We would already be one large Hive Mind working toward a common goal of absorbing other intelligences. NO. We are not Borg, yet.

Resistance is never futile. I can never be assimilated because I will not allow it. Assimilation is about choice. You can choose to stand there and say, it is impossible to change the world.

You cannot hope to change the world until you are first master of your individual self. World changing comes when you are aware of your individual power to make change. Then change happens around you because you are centered and aware of the ability you have to make a difference.

Don’t change the world. Change yourself and make all the difference.

To quote Ashleigh Brilliant: “If you can’t change your mind, how do you know you still have one?”

Tamir Rice: Murdered Before Your Eyes

CLEVELAND, OHIO

Tamir Rice was murdered. Yes, I said it.

Someone needs to.

Watch the video, the entire eight minutes of it. I could have grabbed the last 30 seconds of Tamir’s life but there is something important you will be missing if you don’t watch the whole thing. Something innocent and child-like, something young Black children rarely get to be anymore.

Watch the video and see if you can see past your partisan bullshit and see just a child, being a child and dying because someone couldn’t be bothered to give a damn about him, as a person. For all you folks who will say this child is dead because they followed policy. We need new damn policies.

I watched the entire seven minute and forty second version of this film. For more than six minutes the boy is just walking around, minding his own business, doing nothing in particular.

Know that while he is doing nothing, someone is reporting him as threatening people in the park with a gun.

When the child sits down on the bench in the park he is probably just resting but little did he know he would be dead in two minutes.

The police do not arrive on the scene and park a discrete distance away to ASSESS the situation. They do not arrive at a distance to DETERMINE THE NATURE OF THE THREAT.

They instead drive up within three feet of their subject. They do not ANNOUNCE their presence. And they surely couldn’t have because they are leaving their vehicle within three seconds of their arrival.

Two seconds after the door to the police car is open, the officer is shooting and the child is dead. Only then do they call in shots fired.

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To sum this up:

The police could have arrived at a distance and announced their intention, while still within their vehicle (as they do when they pull me over to the side of the road, with their internal loud-speaking system).

“This is the police. Put your weapon on the ground and step back. Put your hands behind (or above) your head.”

Once the boy complies (and he most assuredly would since HE KNEW he was armed with a toy gun) they would have been able to approach and determine the nature of the threat called in and the boy playing in the park were NOT the same thing.

And Tamir Rice would still be alive. This is negligence, pure and simple. Neither of these policemen should still be allowed to be remain custodians of the law. Their blatant disregard for young Black men is clear in their approach and use of unnecessary force.

Rest assured, there will be another media shuffle where they vilify this child or his family, call him dangerous and his death was a boon to society. And these two officers will get two weeks of paid vacation. At least at home, they won’t kill anyone else.

We hope.

UPDATE: From Policy.MIC

Tamir Rice’s 14-year-old sister was handcuffed and left to watch her 12-year-old brother dying in the snow after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer on Nov. 22, 2014, as seen in a new video released by the city late Wednesday. The teen, who was tackled and detained as she tried to approach her wounded brother, witnessed the ordeal unfold from the back of a police cruiser less than 10 feet from his body.

The disturbing new details, which match the account given by Rice’s mother, Samaria, at a press conference in December, are taken from an extended surveillance video clip obtained by the Northeast Ohio Media Group. City officials had initially released a short portion of the video and refused to release the full version to the public.

Tamir Rice was confronted by officers while waving an air pistol in an empty Cleveland park. Officer Timothy Loehmann, seen in the video exiting from the passenger side door, opens fire less than two seconds after the stepping out of the vehicle.

Here is the full 30-minute clip. Rice’s sister approaches the scene from the left-hand side at the 1:42 mark:

“This has to be the cruelest thing I’ve ever seen,” Akron, Ohio-based attorney Walter Madison told Cleveland.com after watching the extended video.

No help: Neither the first-year officer who shot Rice, nor his partner Frank Garmback, appear to offer the wounded boy medical aid or comfort. Garmback is the one seen confronting Rice’s sister and pushing her to the ground. The first person to administer first aid is an FBI agent who arrived on the scene by chance.

Paramedics arrive eight minutes after the first shot is fired, and Rice is stretchered into an ambulance about five minutes later.

Unfit for duty: Hours before they received extended surveillance tape Wednesday, the Northeast Ohio Media Group also reported that Loehmann failed an exam to become a deputy with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department in September 2013. According to internal documents, his application was denied after he scored a 46% on a written cognitive test. Seventy percent is considered a passing grade.

 Mic, . “Watch the Shocking New Tamir Rice Video the Cleveland Police Didn’t Want You to See.” Mic.com. N.p. Web. 10 Jan. 2015. <http://www.mic.com&gt;

The Inhumanity of Corporate Profits

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Thieves, the goddamn lot of you! Thieves and leeches! Fucking vampires sucking the will from people whose only goddamn crimes were to be frightened and tired! And you don’t help them! You don’t listen to them! They get no truth from you! All you do is scare them with stories of something that doesn’t exist! And you bastards are winning! Hundreds more of you every day!

Spider Jerusalem; Transmetropolitan

 

Corporations. Many people look at the corporation as one of the greatest inventions of modern civilization. Others will tell you they are a pox on all our houses. Journalist Matt Taibbi, profiling the bank, Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone magazine in 2009:

“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” 

Let’s review just a couple of things that look broken once you get past the basic erroneous premise that allowed them to exist today. That premise is they are necessary, they are providing a service and the market will bear what they do, no matter how they do it:

  • Corporate-run prisons: A prison system that works by insisting on a quota for the number of prisoners to be found within. Corporate prisons insist on an “occupancy rate” such that if the population drops below a certain number, the state must PAY THE PRISON for its lost revenue. This is an incentive for a state TO FIND SOMEONE TO ARREST, rather than putting fewer people in prison. America already has the highest rate of incarcerated individuals per capita than any place else in the world. Corporate prisons will NOT be reducing those numbers, only INCREASING them.
  • Corporate manufactured food: What if I told you all of the manufactured foods you ate were addictive. Whether it came in a can, was processed for a box or found its way into a fast food restaurant, they were designed by food scientists to BE addictive by taking manipulating your pleasure center and your body’s natural tendencies to seek out fat, sugar and salt. What if I told you, it was the very fact that foods have been over-saturated with these three ingredients which accounts for the current crop of debilitating diseases sweeping most modern countries today: Obesity, diabetes, and hypertension/stroke. Since China has embraced Western ideals, in the last ten years their number of diabetes cases has reached over 300 million people. (That number is almost the same in India.)

Are you surprised no corporations have chosen to pay attention to the rate of diabetes increase in those countries, in relationship to their fast food boom? NO? Neither am I.

“It is this very cognitive dissonance which should make you pay more attention to corporations when they tell you, they are concerned about the environment BUT not enough to do anything about it. If your kids die from starvation due to climate change, its not our problem. We are only worried about the next quarter.”

Would a bank launder money for a crime cartel? Would they poison entire ecosystems to save money on a part for a refinery? Would they pay into contingency fees, to settle, in case someone died rather than replacing a five cents part? YOU BETCHA.

Here are a few other things happening in your neck of the woods, wherever you live…

  • Does their product pollute groundwater which might be used for farming? YES. (hydraulic fracturing)
  • Does their product require millions of animals to live in poor conditions to lower their cost of production? YES. (Fast Food Industry)
  • Does their product contaminate plants downwind of where my product is used? YES. (Monsanto and other genetically engineered seeds companies)
  • Does their product produce coal ash, which is highly toxic and need specialized technologies for disposal? YES. (Big Coal)
  • Does their product have a chance for spills, causing catastrophic yet, never considered, damage to the environment? YES. (Big Oil)
  • Does their product have a list of side effects a mile long yet still advertise it on television, telling people they NEED IT? YES. (Big Pharmaceuticals)
  • Does their product cause unrest and wars in foreign countries by needing rare earths and special minerals? YES. (Any Tech corporation)

And the list goes on. I could do this all day. So why do I bring it up? For the simple reason that corporations are never going to tell you what they are doing is harmful to YOU or yours. They will list the stock exchange and its variables as if it were a way to judge how profitable Humanity has been that day.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Stock Exchange is an indicator of how much wealth is being made at your expense, how much of your environment is being destroyed, how much money is being made from the loss of lives in conflicts over raw materials in a foreign country. The Stock Exchange could just as easily be called the Murder and Mayhem Exchange because corporations have basically said they are willing to make profits OVER YOUR DEAD BODIES.

If they were being honest about it, they might make a video like this one:

So now you know. What can we do about it?

Get back to regulating these corporate fuckers. This video is a parody but the real corporations just haven’t been willing to say this as directly. But the harm they do to your environment is just as real and just as long lasting.

They don’t give a fuck about you. Don’t wait for them to say FUCK YOU in plain English. It’s only a matter of time.

Instructions: Weaponize and Discard After Use

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War is Hell.

As the world’s policeman (or at least protector of natural resources we want from other countries) we are ready, willing and able to make war whenever we want. Ready to provide “freedom” at the drop of a hat and a ring of the cash register. War is good business, Dick Cheney can certainly attest to that fact. (See: Halliburton Company, Dick Cheney)

War is good. War is profitable. We are protecting freedom and democracy everywhere.

At least this is what we are told to justify the release of military forces all over the globe. This is how we rationalize the creation of living weapons whose job it is to pacify, kill or destroy whatever opposing force they are directed at.

With no thought to the minds, bodies or well-being of the soldiers who live and die in those conflicts. Strange, the people most in favor of as much war as the budget will allow are often the same men and women who avoided military conflicts when they required more grist for the military mill.

But worst than that, we pay almost no attention to the mental health and well-being of those who SURVIVE as a shell of their former selves. Warfare on the scale that Humanity does it today corrupts every part of the psyche of the men and women who engage in it.

War brutalizes even the survivors making them barely suitable to exist in the society they have fought for. Without help, training, support services, weaponizing human beings and then releasing them back into society is irresponsible, dangerous and in most cases, the leading cause of suicide among these veterans.

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Are we as a nation going to continue making men and women into military weapons of war, and don’t be confused, it is the people that are the weapons before the tools they utilize, or will we realize the cost of war in terms of damage to our economies, damage to our social status as citizens of the world community and most importantly damage to our veterans returning from these wars is simply too damn high?

Or will we treat veterans like we do any other natural resource? We use up our young, best and brightest minds leaving them as wreckage on the pyre of our nation’s economic conquest and destruction of the EARTH and life as we know it.

I know which way things are leaning at the moment and it’s not a good sign.

Soldiers need treatment from the constant battles, the extreme stress, the questionable orders, the impossible tightrope between morality and survival. These are stresses beyond what most people will ever face. Should you run that light or pay your taxes, or pick your kid up from school even under the most adverse of conditions will never equal the stress of one terrifying firefight after your vehicle is flipped over by an IED.

If we really want to thank a veteran, how about making it possible for him to have the mental health he needs to reducing the scars that turned him into a weapon of war. Or the scars he acquires should he survive whatever war front we have placed him in. These walking wounded are taking their lives because they cannot cope with what they have seen or what they feel they have become: less human, less the men and women we loved when we sent them to war. We need to start caring for them. Giving them back their hope since we can’t give them back their humanity intact.

Or better yet, how about we just stop making veterans…

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Thaddeus Howze is a veteran of the United States Navy. He can be reached on Twitter at @ebonstorm.

REFERENCES:

The Guardian: US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans

TakePart: Why Should We Make Vet Mental Health a Priority? Because One Dies by Suicide Every 65 Minutes

We just got here and look at the mess…

ENVIRONMENT | PRIORITIES | COMMENTARY

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Planet Earth is 4.6 billion years old (give or take)

If we condense this inconceivable time-span into an understandable concept, we can liken the Earth to a person of 46 years of age.

Nothing is known about the first seven years of this person’s life, and whilst only scattered information exists about the middle span, we know that only at the age of 42 did the Earth begin to flower.

Dinosaurs and the great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the planet was 45.

Mammals arrived only 8 months ago; in the middle of last week man-like apes evolved into ape-like men, and at the weekend the last ice age enveloped the Earth.

Modern Man has been around for four hours. During the last hour, Man discovered agriculture. The industrial revolution began a minute ago.

During those 60 seconds of biological time, Modern Man has made a rubbish pit of paradise.

He has multiplied his numbers to plague proportions, caused the extinction of 500 species of animals, ransacked the planet for fuels and now stands like a brutish infant, gloating over his meteoric rise to ascendancy..

- GREENPEACE

The Future is Unsustainable – Tell everyone, the revolution happens soon, or not at all.

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