Saturday, May 7, 2011

Changing the world

It's something that's been on my mind for quite a while now but it took me ages to actually sit down and write it down. Why I'm doing it today is probably because I've recently came back from a meeting with a Turkish CSer I spent the afternoon with and with whom I ended up talking about what I'm about to share with you.

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What got me to put into words the feelings and notions I was having for quite some time was a very curious meeting I had in Spain, Frigiliana to be exact. My CS host at the time was an Englishman living in Spain, an anarchist and devoted nudist. He was very eager to share his knowledge and above else, his ideas about the world. He was also the first person to tell me about the Zeitgeist movement, today's Turkish CSer being the second. I still haven't watched the movies but will do it very soon (and probably share some more thoughts on the occasion).

The ideas and ideologies my English/Spanish host had might be simplest summed up as 'changing the world'. He was talking so much about it and about how the society and the system ruin our lives, that he really seemed like a man on a mission. At first I was very interested and impressed but later on took a bit of a different approach.  Let me tell you why.

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First off, everyone keeps on saying how we need to go and change the world. Which world, may I ask?
I firmly believe there is no such thing as THE world. Or THE reality, for that matter. Just as I don't believe there's a thing we call objectivity. 

"If there's no such thing as THE world or THE reality, what is there?!", I hear you ask. Well, there's a sum of all worlds. There's the world of a millionaire living in a beautiful beachside mansion, whose reality is not at all similar to that of a fisherman living in a poor village somewhere in SEA, who in turn lives in a totally different world than a child in Iraq, who has to fight for his 11 year old life every minute of my life, which is led in a different world than the one my friends in Spain have.. Can you see my point?

So when I hear someone shout out: "We have to change the world!", I automatically ask him: "Which world would you like to change, sir?". And even if we decide we should be changing the world of the child, for example, how do we go about doing that? And what warranty do we have that if US troops back out, some other won't take their place? None. And so we get stuck in a cycle we cannot escape. Because instead of preventing something, we're trying to fix or replace it. Which is a fool's errand when huge money (and let's face it, what else is there to politics at this point?) is involved.

"So what do you propose, we should just let it be?" No. But I don't think big revolutionary ideas will change anything.

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My host and I spent one evening talking about similar things. Him telling me that we have to get rid of all the money, destroy the system, leadership etc. I do agree that we could do without money, as there are enough goods produced to satisfy everyone, and it's the distribution or the lack thereof that causes misery and poverty, and might be better off without it. Destroying the system? Changing the system, yes. What good would come from destroying structures? We'd just make new ones. Get rid of leaders? How do you propose we get anything done on a bigger scale?

A bit of our dialogue (M=Magu, H=host):

H: There's a community in town A. They live like this. Without money, without leaders telling them what to do. Everyone's happy.
M: Ok, so what happens if there's a bigger project that needs to be undertaken? How do they make decisions?
H: Well, everyone sits in a circle, they have a stick they pass along and only the person with the stick has the right to speak. It's ideal! Everyone gets heard out. And then they vote.
M: Ok, and how many people are there?
(can't recall the exact number he quoted, let's assume he said something like:) 
H: 100
M: Ok. And how long does the decision making process take? What if there's a 1000, 5000 people in such a community? Let's say there's 6 billion of them. How big do you think that circle to be?
H: It doesn't matter how long it takes! Because like this everyone can speak up! And well, there would be many small communities that would communicate with each other.
M: Ok, and how would they be doing that?
H: There would be representatives.
M: Ok, and how is it different from what we have now?
H: Because the system is wrong! And there is money! And politicians are evil and only care about the money!
M: Ok, and how do we know it won't happen again? For every 20 people that will agree to have as much as the next person, there'll be one who'll decide he wants more. How do you prevent corruption?
H: You get rid of money!

And so we went back and forth like this - me understanding the concept and partially agreeing with it but seeing that "destroying the system" or 'simply' "getting rid of money" is no answer. Unless you have precise solutions to the problem, you'll just create a different version of it. Criticizing something without offering ways of making it better is pointless. And not worth anyone's time nor attention.
At that point my host must have decided I was against his believes and that I was arguing with him, because the discussion got a lot more heated.

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I decided to share my take on the subject.

We make the system. 
If I change how I live, I change the system. 
'The system' is not an individual. Nor is it a constant being imposed on us by some almighty power, be it God or whatever else you believe in. We made it. And if it doesn't work or has some kind of a malfunction, we're the ones who'll have to move our asses and change it. No other way around it.

Change the world? No. Change MY world? Yes, please.
How? Be happy.

You might laugh and want to quit reading but let me take some more of your precious time and elaborate on the subject.

"Be happy" is the simplest and best advise we can, and most definitely, should follow. Where do all the crime, corruption, harm come from? 
From the unhappiness of those who indulge in them. 
From unsatisfaction. 
Feeling helpless.
All of which are the total opposit of hapiness.

If you're happy, do you feel the need to lie? 
Harm others? 
Didn't think so.
If you're happy, are you positive? 
Do you want to share that energy with others? 
Do you feel like helping them to make sure they're in such a state as well? Isn't life easier and more rewarding when you do what you love? 
Meet with those you like? 
Help those you are in power of helping?
Yup, yup, yup and a thousand times yup.

If you want to be selling flowers and studying ikebana, why do you spend your life doing accountancy - anything but? Do you have another life to later do what you love?
If you enjoy law and want to practice it in the future but are afraid you won't score well enough on your entry exams, why don't you spend more time learning instead of wasting your time settling for less?

"But you can't make a living out of it!", I hear so many people say. Yes, you can. If you like something, if it makes you happy, you do it. A lot. You get better at it. If you're good at something, there'll always be people willing to reward you for it. Who'll appreciate you.

And yet it's all twisted, in this world of ours. For everyone who wishes they were a florist and does something else in life, there'll be a florist who hates their job and wishes they could be doing finance, and I can imagine there are hundreds of finance specialists who'd prefer to be doing something else, like baking or selling properties. Or surfing, or a million other fascinating things we can decide to do with our time. And decide is the key word. Don't let others create your life for you! They have their own lifes to take care of and one life to manage is plenty work as it is.

H: But that's such an egoistic approach! 
M: I don't think it is. I do believe that if you're a happy person, you make others around you happy as well. You feed them with positive energy. Think of it in terms of bringing up children, for example. Can a frustrated and unhappy person be a devoted and loving parent? Teach a child to feel fulfilled in life, to reach for what they want? Be a good role model?

Telling a child "You can be happy in life" while being miserable yourself is sending out a most contradictory signal. And I think we all know actions speak more than words.
 How can we teach others something we don't know how to do ourselves?
Whom would you rather learn to start up a business from, an enterprenuer running his own company or an accademic who thinks he knows how to do it, cause he's read so many books on the subject? Maybe written a few himself..

And that brings me to why I started viewing my interlocutor in a not-so-impressed-after-all way. He was telling me all those grant world-changing ideas and yet spending his whole days watching lifechanging movies, smoking weed and doing yoga on the rooftop of his building. 

As I've said before - talking, even most interestingly and about the most important things, without actually taking any action is not worth all that much in my eyes.

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So be happy! 
Change the world to suit YOU. 
Don't change yourself to suit someone else's image of this world.

Of course, it would take time the change things in the bigger picture. But every process takes time. That's something we cannot escape. How much time it takes, however, depends on our actions.

Please take a minute and visualise this for me:
Every person commiting to what they love. 
What brings them joy. 
What gives them satisfaction and fulfillment. 
(whatever that thing might be)
How does this world of ours look like then?
Do you like what you see?
Because I know I do.

"We have to change the world!"
So please, just follow your heart and be happy!

2 komentarze:

Anna said...

This new world of all simply happy people seems an utopia at first. But when you think more of it, maybe it really is as simple as that. Getting to know yourself and learning how to be happy. When you learn to listen to yourself at last, everything becomes easier as then you know exactly what you are looking for in this life. And maybe that really is it. I've started REALLY listening to myself only a short time ago but it really is so that there are so much fewer problems appearing. Things that you would have considered problems before are not problems anymore. So just let's be haaaappy and teach people how to be such!
Thanks for posting this:) I consider it another sign assuring me that it's just right not to give a damn about the others and simply change your world by adding more happiness and sun into it. :)

Magu said...

I know it does seem that way but the moment you take a couple of minutes to think it through - why the hell should it be an utopia and not the real world? Some time ago someone decided things should get done in a certain way, because that was profitable/useful/comfortable/logical to them at the time. And now we all follow those same patterns, even though there's no need/reason for it!

I'm glad you're taking life into your own hands - that's why we have those in the first place!
Good luck on your way to self-discovery and more personal satisfaction!

And spread the word, help others realize that being happy is not a mere dream, it's doable! A must, I'd say!