LEAVING THE WORLD A BIT BETTER THAN HOW WE FOUND IT – Part 2

I published the first part of this text yesterday, you can read it here. In this text I focus more on the ethical challenges in keeping up a healthy responsible community, and what invisible aspects are keys to either thriving or collapsing community.

Part of building and maintaining a succesful community is recognising realistically the resources it has to support the ones in need of support. There might be a need to decide some limitations, like that a person with drug addiction or heavy mental problems can not join the community until they have succesfully treated themselves, because the community has no professional help to offer for that. This is why some people think that community is an unrealistic bubble, and choose to not live in one. It is a difficult ethical question. It’s hard to find a person who wants to be in a position to try to objectively evaluate how many people with special needs are too many to tilt the community out of balance, and where to draw the line of being in too bad shape, since we all crash and have special needs in some time of our life. What happens when someone who has grown to be a big part of the community gets too sick to be useful, or when that happens to too many, and there is no resources to maintain their lives without more money? In a small community this is still relatively easy, we can support each other before things get totally out of hands, or we find help from outside world so that there is something to support people who have to leave. The city doesn’t have this benefit to send people away to a bigger system to deal with, and every time I come out I see more and more people in need of help and less and less people who can be the ones supporting and holding space for others to heal. This is causing a chain reaction where more people burn out, get depressed, become drug addicted or in some other way just drop out and become useless for society. More pressure is build on the ones who are still trying to hold things together, so more of them crashes. Sometimes I hear that communities are places for people who don’t manage in the real world. Sure, many of us were labelled in the outside world unable to work for one reason or another. However, I see all those cases working just fine in the community, and that makes me wonder what is it about the society that makes it so harsh to just manage every day life that more and more people drop out. People who are for long time convinced by doctors and unemployment offices that they are useless, find themselves extremely useful in maintaining the community. We hardly care if someone is doing the dishes or being the manager, because nobody makes any profits in organisation anyways, and because of living so tightly together we understand that equally without cleaning and without managing we couldn’t keep the place running. Everyone has an identity that doesn’t depend on their working task. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better in terms of equality than what I see outside.

Nobody wants to be useless, it’s one of the worst things you can tell to a person since one of our core needs is to be needed. Even people with succesful careers in terms of money often suffer of underlying nagging knowing that the job they do is, at the core, pretty useless, since many well paid jobs nowadays are. One of my most eye opening conversations was when I got a car ride from an owner of big pharma factory. I haven’t made almost any income for years, and he was stressed out because he had some family meeting the next day, but at least he had a helicopter to fly the kids there. Saves a lot of time, you know. He was such a sincere sweet man, and out of the blue he started sharing with me all his reasoning why the work he does is important. I listened, more the tone under his words than what he was saying. He knew perfectly well that the pharma industry doesn’t heal people, it just takes the symptoms away. Many of the people I know think that pharma company owners are the devil himself. If it was him, I sure wish him well. He had no false beliefs that he would in reality be any richer than me. I sensed that he felt in some way trapped, also living his life for someone else. A person who is seen as someone who doesn’t need to answer for anyone, has actually hundereds of peoples income on his shoulders and can’t afford doing any mistakes. I suddenly realised how free I am, to change my mind and direction at any time, to do mistakes, search my way and start again.

From what I have heard it seems like there is a growing belief both in communities aswell as in the cities that people nowadays care only for themselves. When I look at people I think of the pharma factory owner and I’m wondering where are all these people putting themselves first. Obviously the ones saying it don’t identify as those people, since they are more feeling like victims of circumstances. When I was first time visiting the community where I now live in, I was still suffering from panic disorder and social anxieties, so I wanted to know as much as I could about what was expected of my time of volunteering there. I read all the rules and guidelines that I could find about how to be in service, and I really thought if I agree with those values before I applied. There was one sentence in the guidelines that made me do the decision that I can go, and it was “I aspire to serve others, our planet and its inhabitants. I recognize that I must also serve myself in order to practise this effectively”. I feel like this is something our society as a whole have totally missed out. It is socially expected and accepted to help others even when we don’t want to genuinely do it or don’t feel energised enough to do it, because it’s just what we “have to do”. When people do things out of guilt or fear of not being liked anymore, they expect it also from others, and get extremely upset when someone refuses to do it. This has become so common that if we do something out of joy we feel guilt about that too, even if we have been more productive and efficient. It’s not work if it doesn’t feel like work, and everyone knows what “feels like work” means in this context. It sucks.

It seems like some colletive guilt trip that somebody mistakenly thought would make people work more, but failed to see the consequenses of long term unhappiness in a mass of people. People actually believe that they can choose to do something they dont really want to, and then like they could choose to not get burn-out, cancer, depression, drug addiction etc. When some of those things happen it just triggers another guilt trip, at least for a while. Eventually most surrender to the fact that their life is ultimately not in their hands, or to be more accurate, its not in the hands of someone else, even if they really believed that they could give that power to someone else, but their body and mind is not agreeing. Genious. But maybe it takes a lot of crashing first, and thats what we are witnessing now. When the economy in Argentina crashed lot of businesses went bankrupt. The employees all lost their jobs and there was no money left to pay the compensations, so lot of new co-operatives were born when people took power in their own hands and just decided to go back to work. There is a big hotel in the middle of Buenos Aires completely owned by it’s former employees. Imagine the empowerment when one day you are an elevator boy and the next day you own the elevators and everything else, as much as all your co-workers.

I wonder, when is the critical mass reached in the city where I used to live in, so that people will get involved in their own well-being and stop giving the power over their lives to someone else. It doesn’t have to mean catastrophical chaos anarchy. It can be a small shift in attitude that will have massive consequenses. When we take the power in our own hands we also take the responsibility in our own hands. At some point we need to wake up from the wellfare country illusion that there is always some higher institution where we can send the people who we don’t want to see, and start taking care of ourselves well enough so that we can take care of others. Punishment doesn’t work, so we need to find other ways for crime prevention. Mental hospitals and rehab centers are full, so we need to come up with something else. There won’t be space anywhere else to send refugees and immigrants, and integration courses offered by the government are full, so at some point it’s time to stop complaining and start integrating people by ourselves. I have a baby in my belly so I’m just hoping we get there a bit faster, but I know that eventually, maybe after some turbulence, we’ll get there.

LEAVING THE WORLD A BIT BETTER THAN HOW WE FOUND IT – Part 1

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I’m somewhere where I haven’t been for a while, in the outside world. Also called sometimes as “The Real World”, which I find a bit misleading, since it’s based on mostly indirect communication and mixed messages. In my last visit here, few months ago, I noticed that I had managed to take my lessons of community life with me, and integrate them into relationships to my friends and family here. It felt extremely good, because before I have always had a certain degree of suffering connected returning to this home.

The first time coming out was the strongest. I had went to the community where I now live in during a liberal festival season, where everything is just accelerated to the maximum everythingness. Basically I was young and single and fell in love seven times in two weeks, plus found some sort of divine God connection that I had been craving for. Everyone treated me with loving acceptance, or if not I was too busy in blissing out to notice. I didn’t want to come back at all, and I had decided that I will not give in a single bit of this dream life that I had been living for three weeks. For a while I kept talking in terms of divine energy flows, using as a water bottle my baby bottle that one of these seven loves had given me during a sex festival, and wearing “in silence” badge in public transport when I wanted to be in a process and left on my own. Despite all of this the outside life crept in and I had a massive slow crash, mostly because I didn’t find anyone to share these life views with. When I look at it now, I see the division that I was making, rather than looking for similarities in what me and others believe in or how we would like to live.

This time being here has shown me more of the differences again, but more in a practical level. Even though many people would want to integrate more of the positive sides of community living into city life, it doesn’t happen very easily. People are so busy that the benefits need to be really clear, like in a car share or agreeing baby sitting circle with other moms, so that they find it worth their time to organise it.

To me there is a really obvious paradox happening here. People are pushed to achieve more, by themselves and the surrounding society, yet the way they have organised their lives is ridiculously insufficient from the perspective of someone living in a community. I thought before that I can’t live in a community because there won’t be time left to focus on my own creativity and career. Community life is a lot about building the community, otherwise it doesn’t work. When I make food I make it for minimum of 40 people, usually more, and then I do the dishes. But I do this only for one meal a day, and in a kitchen that is equipped in a way that I can do this sufficiently in five or six hours. On top of this I don’t need another job to pay my rent or food costs, because this is my part of keeping the community rolling. Working five to six hours a day can sound a lot if you want to focus on a personal ambition as well. In the beginning the rest of my time went to socialising with constantly changing interesting people and going to many amazing workshops that are offered to us for free. It took some time to let go of my fear of missing out and have some self discipline to take time alone to do what I really wanted to focus on. But I also learned to really recognise when I need time alone, and I’m not afraid anymore that other people might take it personally or think of me as antisocial if I leave the space when I want to. Now I can easily work also four to five hours a day on painting or writing or anything else, because I don’t use any time on transporting myself. Somebody else cooks all my other meals, cleans for me, and I meet most of my family and friends every day in shared meal times and other social activities like sauna and celebrations, if I want. It’s amazing how much time and brain capacity is saved when I don’t need to hang in social media to check where is which event, how much it costs, how do I get there and try to contact my friends living around to city to agree where do we meet and when. There is one big difference in my friends outside and in the community. People outside seem to have some kind of chronic scattered brain state. They burn so much energy on being slightly anxious of not doing what they want to be doing, and instead are doing something they feel like they should be doing. Not always, but sometimes, it’s hard for me to understand why they meet each other at all, since it’s happening in such unsatisfying level. Most connection is based on sharing anxiety about the lack of focus. Taking on your friends scattered brain state won’t make it any easier to get clarity on your own state. It is hard to confront my friends and family about this because I know that often there is subconscious assumption that I think that I’m better than them, since I chose to live differently and moved to a different country than where I was born in. I did let go a lot to live how I live, and I sincerely don’t think it fits for everyone. Often I see people come into the community very grounded and in a good place, and leave totally scattered and desperate to move on. It takes a lot to find your own boundaries and accept that in the end you won’t find happiness from other people, even when there is so many and they are so intriguing. What I’m still figuring out is why people in cities seem to suffer more collectively than people in communities. How could city life be more fulfilling, so that people would have more satisfying connections and feeling of purpose? In the end city is just a big community. It was told to me that human brain can only feel group connection in groups up to 200 people, but I think we are past those times. Most of us have more than 200 Facebook friends, and since the internet came our brain did learn to include new concepts of community that is not depending on geographic location or other more traditional building stones of community. How would the city you live in look like if everybody would live in it as active members of the community? How would life be if we would always leave a place the same or little bit better than we found it? How would our justice system look like if, in case of disagreeing with the current rules, we would have the integrity to say it out loud? We could come up with a better suggestion, rather than doing small crimes that cause more work for someone else. Maybe we don’t need to know every single person in our city to feel like we are alike. It’s more about shift in attitude and choosing to see the similarities, as well as not taking too personally other peoples differences. Lot of meditation practises are aiming for unconditional love and compassion, to indirectly change our daily behaviour and feelings towards ourselves and others. I think we can evolve by now to really comprehend bigger groups as our tribe,

 if we really want to. The benefits of living as in a big community would be massive in personal level of empowerment and in maintaining a healthy society.

The second part is now published, you can read it here.

WHO BENEFITS IF WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE GOING TO DIE?

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I have managed to get to the adulthood without anyone particularly close to me dying. Because of this I haven’t had the possibility to get to know death as most of the people I know have.

I have never been in a funeral and I have never seen a dead human. I have never went through the pain of missing someone close in my life and slowly understanding that there is no way we can connect in life again. Most importantly, I have lived my whole life not understanding that I am going to die. Whether or not my friends of same age have lost someone to death, they don’t seem to understand it either. I often wonder how is it possible that people prioritise the things they do, or care about the things they do, in relation to the bigger picture where us and all of whom we’ve ever known are dying. If someone asks if we know that we are going to die, we would say yes. But in a tangible every day knowing and understanding level, we have no connection to the fact that we are going to die. Either does most of our parents, but they might show a more realistic, or irrational, fear of dying.

In western world death has been so closely connected to war and violence, that it has created a disconnection to traditions where death has been more natural event. We still carry the influence from wars from our traumatised parents or grandparents, but don’t have a more peaceful tradition of death to replace it. Most countries have been in war within the last few generations, and news travel fast in our times so wars in distant places touch us in a totally different way than before. I believe it is in close connection with how we have lost respect and appreciation of growing old in modern western world. It’s like the youth and elders have both forgotten how much the young ones would have to learn from elders.

 

 

 

For me the time of pregnancy has been bringing me a lot closer to death. It has offered me a way to really comprehend it in new level. I find it so magical that there first isn’t a separate sense of consciousness, and then at some point it just merges into existence. That’s how I see death, in reverse. Being not born and therefore not having this sense of separation isn’t good or bad, it just is. That’s why I don’t see death as a taboo either. Still I see our society as a whole distancing itself as far from it as possible. In a way I understand it as a natural animal behaviour. All animals avoid death instinctively, including humans. But then there came this thought, how would our society look different if it would have more natural relationship to death? What kind of decisions would people make, what kind of values would be prioritised? I see most decisions made from either fear, or lack of perspective. Most often it’s fear of risking financial safety or loosing acceptance from other people.

It would be tempting to claim that there is some bad guys somewhere who want us to stay asleep and not question anything, and I’m sure there is many of those people, and many of them are in power positions. Still when I think of them individually, what else is an insurance agent spreading worrying statistics than a human afraid of loosing their own safety? Or a marketing expert trying to convince new parents that they need a lot of things for their baby to be good parents? Or a teacher getting angry at students who ask what comes after the universe ends? In a western world with freedom of speech, there isn’t really anyone to accuse of keeping us asleep than ourselves. Not that accusation would ever be beneficial, but I see a lot of people feeling betrayed by how things are not as they were told to be. We do live in a world of freedom of speech, but also in a world of manipulation. It’s up to us to learn and teach our children to recognise when they are being manipulated by media or teachers, or anyone, into making choices out of fear.

Ultimately life is not endless, even though death in our society has been isolated and sterilised out of sight. People who travel anywhere outside of western world know this. They tell that they are going on a trip to India or Africa, and very often the responses are warnings or even trying to convince the person to not go, because it’s so dangerous. Only when you go, you find out how people somehow manage to stay alive without all that we thought is so essential for survival.

It’s important to think of other peoples motives when they try to influence our decision making and comment on our choices.

The more I question what is behind other peoples responses to my life choices the more free I become, because I notice how it’s not actually my own fear I’m carrying around. At the same time I’m developing a death awareness which allows me to prioritise with better perspective, so that instead of limiting myself out of fear of death I actually live more. Exactly the same lifestyle can be enjoyable or fear infused for different individuals, so there really isn’t a right or wrong way to live, but I hope that for whoever is reading this the choices would not come out fear but from a place of freedom.