Self Reflection – The things that make us us

I just came back from my first CISV meeting of the year, and I came back totally energized, totally ready to go and talk to people and do things. I also recently had my first debate meeting of the year, and came away from that totally energized as well. It is these two firsts that got me to thinking about what gives me energy, and what allows me to be me, my energetic self. Last year I greeted people enthusiastically, and brightened when I saw them, just naturally, but this year I just wasn’t feeling it, however, right after these two events I was. Debate and CISV allow me to express myself, aspects of me that I don’t usually show, but want to more often, I am more confident and energetic in Debate, and in CISV, and I am more thoughtful and emotional in CISV.

We are different people at different times, and it is good to have the ability to shift, but it is also important to notice when you feel the best, the fullest, the most alive, and figure out how that happens. For me it happens in debate and CISV, and after that, for a little while, but I have a hard time carrying it over to the rest of my life. As hard as I try not to, I consistently segregate my life into boxes, being one person in one, and another in another, changing my masks, I need to stop, I need to live fully and authentically. I think that the way to do that is to look at the times of your life where you have the most fun, and try to spread those actions and feelings throughout your life.


MMP and Politics

Okay, I don’t know how many of you have heard about or been following the Ontario election, but I think that this is really important and promising. In addition to the standard vote, on this ballot, the Ontario population is voting on a revolutionary referendum to challenge the standard electoral process for election to the Ontarian Legislature. The option that is being put before the people is to change or not to change from the old first past the past system to the mixed-member proportional system currently in use by a number of countries in Europe and New-Zealand. A chill of happiness went up my spine when I read about this system and the possibility for change in Ontario, there is so much possibility, opportunity.

There are better description and analysis of MMP elsewhere, such as CBC, or Wikipedia, but this is the basic just of it. Every voter gets two votes on every ballot under MMP. The first vote is for a normal, FPTP representative for their individual constituency. The second vote is a little bit more complicated. In addition for voting for a regional candidate, each person has one vote for the party they like the best overall, in the province. These votes are then tabulated, and the % that each party got of the popular vote is recorded. In the Ontario system, there would be ninety constituency seats in the legislature, plus 37 extra seats that are appointed as extra seats. These extra seats are appointed to parties if their total number of seats in the various constituencies is less than the proportion of people that have voted for them. The representatives appointed to these seats are taken from a list created by the party, however, all parties must make public these lists before the election, and they must make public the method through which they made the list.

This method means more proportionality, and moreĀ  minority governments, and more compromises, less bashing bills through that only one party wants. The main problem with democracy is that the majority can overrule the large, large, minority, even if one more person votes in favor of one side, the other half’s opinions mean virtually nothing, and minorities can all too often get stepped over. However MMP goes a long way to solving some of these problems, it also forces more participation in the political system, as anyone who wants to have their voice truly heard, will have to join a political party in order to have a voice in the lists for the extra seats.

In primitivist circles, politics is rarely given any thought, and for good reason, it is usually, a large, inefficient machine that does more harm than good, but that doesn’t have to be the case, and it can’t be if there is going to be any hope at all. Politics is, for good or ill, one the forces with the greatest impact on our world, so we really need to put more focus on it, even if it is only voting once every four years and joining a political party with occasional input. Yes we need to focus on our own lives, but we are not yet free of the system, so as long as it can impact us, which will be along time yet, we need to take some interest in the political system.


Conversation Cafe

Okay, I am finally going to get back around to posting here, I have been, I don’t know, distracted recently, unwilling to write it up, but here we go againšŸ™‚.

Last Wednesday on the ‘what’s going on tonight’ section on my local CBC evening show, I learned about a conversation cafe going on that night at a cafe about 4 blocks from my house. It was kind of a synchronistic moment, giving me the opportunity to easily talk about some of the things I have been talking about online for so long, in person. So I went to the conversation cafe, and it was a really cool experience.

To start off with, I was by far the youngest person there, the next oldest being in her late twenties mabey, but most of the people were older than fifty. However, there was a wealth of experience and strength there that was amazing. One of the men there was the head of an association of deaf and blind people in Alberta, and had experience lobbying the government. One of the women had lived as a Jew in eastern Europe during the holocaust, all in all, it was a really interesting group.

We talked about relationships from a number of different facets, and one person kept coming back to the difference between family and friendships, we talked about adoptions, both formal and other wise, and the flexibility of the definition of family. We also talked about a lot more than that, and it was a very interesting conversation, the main thing I took from what experience to support my ideas, knowledge that I was not alone, and that my beliefs were not just theoretical but held in the real world. It was a good sense of community, of openness, nearly no topic was taboo, there was a great depth of personal experience. The format was also interesting, first, we had two rounds where we passed around the talking stick, and we each said our piece, then we had a round of more or less normal conversation, finishing with a round of the stick for closing comments; it was a good format, all in all.

After the conversation, I felt energized and open, willing and able to do anything (courage vs. shyness wise) it was uplifting. Unfortunately, that, like all such feelings, vanished with sleep, but it was still a good experience. It was good for starting to break my bubble, a safe way to start stepping out and actually talking about things that matter with the people around me. I would recomend going to the next conversation cafe in your area, though obviously your experience will depend on who is there.


Meta-Numerical Spiritual Thinking

I am currently reading a book called the Druidry Handbook by John Micheal Greer, and it has a lot of interesting things to offer. One of those is thinking about the numbers we think in, particularly in relation to our mythical and spiritual levels of thought. By mythical and spiritual, I simply(or not so simply ;)) mean those levels of thought which deal with deep connections, emotions, and unexplored realms of unconscious thought that drive our actions, that is my own definition of course, and free to be challenged.

I think that most modern, and indeed agricultural based thought deals in twos, sets of two diametrically opposed viewpoints and forces in direct of indirect opposition to each other, where one is ‘good’ and the other is ‘evil’. You can see this in civilized versus savage, god versus the devil, science versus spirituality, materialism vs transcendentalism, wilderness vs the city. Greer points out that thinking in twos can be useful to see the differences of two things, but as a thought system, it can be incredibly unbalanced to base your actions on. In ‘How Dependable is the Bible‘, at the God Delusion Pod at zaadz, Will Feathers has recently commented on the division between dark and light in the human soul, and how dark should be cast out, leaving only light. This is a perfect example of a two based statement, and while it has some merit, a more balanced three based statement (or one : ) yeah one!) might work better (see below).

Greer mentions that most new-age thought system have just turned the focus around and still think in twos, I agree, and I can see this in praising the savage instead of the civilized, wilderness instead of the city, spirituality instead of science. However, this makes the system still unbalanced, which is why Greer says that druids have turned to thinking in threes. He says that thinking in threes is finding the third force that balances the two opposing forces, and I can see that is a very balanced way of thinking, but I think that there is another path to turn to.

There is one sort of new-age movement that does not think in two, or threes, or anything like that that, but which returns to the most basic, the most prime (ha punny :)) number, one. This movement is animism, the belief that dualism is silly, because there is no basic difference between mind and body, spirit and mind. Thinking in ones focuses on similarities, and, though I admit that threes and higher numbers are useful, I like ones, because they have more possibilities. Thinking in ones can also be like thinking in uncountable manies, because the only way to describe a group of things that you can’t count, and that are so different, in so many ways, is to focus on the unifying similarities, and build from there. That is why I like ones, because it is so flexible, not defining things enough to destroy the meaning of the definition, as so many systems do, but simply acknowledging that everything is different but, by virtue of existing shares some basic qualities, which are very, very, general.

That is not to say that I don’t like threes, they have grown on me on the course of the druidry handbook, and all numbers are useful, I just had to talk about one because it so often gets over looked. This whole post is interesting because I have been doing a lot of thinking about meta-thinking recently, about how we communicate and formulate our ideas, I think it is a good idea to be aware of these meta-concepts.


Dandelions

This weekend I tasted dandelions for the first time, until then I had been worried about pesticides and herbicides on the plants in the city, but this weekend, I was out in the middle of nowhere, and so I figured I was alright. I tried a bit of a leaf, and I ate a few heads. The leaf was alright, although it was pretty dry, and very bland. The heads were much better, although they were a little dry. What I did was pull the yellow petals out of the green flower base (I know, not technical terms, but I think most people know what I am talking about), leaving me with a bunch of yellow petals with cottony ends. I held cotton ends and just ate the yellow petals, and they were a little bland, but they were, actually, suprisingly, a little bit sweet. I also don’t think that the heads are a diueretic, unlike the leaves and the roots (anyone pleas correct me if I am wrong), which both good and bad, meaning you can eat as many as you want, but they have no medicinal affect. The leaves on the other hand are purportedly very good for the kidneys and the urinary system when made into a tea; to quote “wildman” Steve Brill, “Dandelions are also good for the bladder spleen, pancreas, stomach and intestines. … Anyone who is a victim of excessive fat, white flour, and concentrated sweeteners could benefit from a daily cup of dandelion tea.”


CISV Rocks!

I just finished SpBoToFo, otherwise known as Spring Board Training Forum, which is the training weekend for CISV junior branches (under 24) from all across Canada. It was a totally awesome experience, I learned a lot about leadership and organization, about how to make a CISV board and CISV JB (junior board) work. But the one thing I wanted to talk about here was the sense of community that was developed in about three days. We were all totally open, and we came to know and love each other so much, there were some very moving moments, and goodbyes were very big. It was a very emotional experience, which is something that is often lacking in our discussions of important issues. We often discuss things like global warming, poverty, and environmental depredation all in our heads, but CISV brings a new perspective. It might have something to do with the fact that we are a child based organization, but CISV is a very emotional organization, and we work to create social change, which, in my mind, is a very awesome combination.

The other thing about SpBoToFo is the fact that such deep relationships were developed. As I mentioned before, CISV has a habit of doing that; sometime in between the energizers, the snack, and the simulation activities, you realize that you have connected with people deeper than you ever have before. That deep connection is so lacking in our culture, though we get it from family (if we are lucky like me), it is not part of out lives, and I feel the need for it. The same thing goes for physical contact. In the ‘real world’, I sometimes want physical contact, just a hug, but it doesn’t seem right, and that never happens in CISV. I feel like I fit in in CISV activities, and it is sometimes a let down to leave, and I wonder what isn’t in my other life, and I think maybe it is the deepness of feelings and the connectedness, it is something we want but it that is seen as abnormal in the real world.


Bubbles

I walked past a couple of people on my way home today, and all of them, except for one older person, reacted the same way; they moved to the side of the side walk and just barely responded when I said hi and smiled. Like them, most of us want to live in our bubbles, we want to live inside the lives we have set up for ourselves, we want to keep our relationships to the people we select, in the end it is all about control. We want to control our lives, control, production and power, that is our holy trinity, and when we lose control, we don’t like it, a lot of violence is the result of losing control. We don’t want to leave our personal bubbles and strike up real relationships with people on the street, in reality we can’t afford to, there are far too many people in the world and on the streets. But our bubbles are also safe and comfortable, we have built them the way we want to, I find it hard to leave my bubble, it is not easy. However, there is one thing that we can be sure of, the future does not rest inside our bubbles, it lies in a world where our relationships are broad and many, and connect with the people around us.