Friday, June 22, 2018

A stolen pen

Sometimes you have to admit when you lose. When someone else has simply done a better job. Like this post from a Spanish guy from a couple of years ago, describing why politicians are such crooks and how we can solve the problem. I think it's applicable to pretty much the whole world. As one comment under the post said, 'impossible to explain it any better'. Here it is:

When you have the chance to steal 0,30€ by making private photocopies at work, you don't waste the opportunity.
When you have the chance to steal 1€ by taking home the pen from your colleague, you don't waste the opportunity.
When you have the chance to steal 5€ from the cashier who gave you too much change, you don't waste the opportunity.
When you have the chance to steal 15€ from an artist by buying a pirate CD, you don't waste the opportunity.
When you have the chance to steal 100€ from Microsoft by downloading a hacked copy of Windows from an illegal site, you don't waste the opportunity.
When you have the chance to steal 1000€ by hiding a defect of the car that you're selling, cheating the buyer, you don't waste the opportunity.
And neither do you waste the opportunity when you return the wallet that you've found but keep the money, when you avoid taxes, when you pay without invoice, etc. etc. etc.

So if you work for the government and get the chance to steal 1,000,000€ it's most likely that, since you don't waste opportunities, you'll grab this one too. In the end it all comes down to being at the right place at the right time. Access and opportunity.

Our real problem is therefore not a bunch of greedy and ruthless politicians because, after all, they're only a reflection of our society of millions of chance-takers who are trained in compliance and even in justification of theft. Today's politicians are yesterday's chance-takers.

It will be difficult to change this, but it starts with each one of us. By not doing it ourselves and by condemning others who do it.

The photo is of a stolen pen. It was someone's opportunity.

(translated from the Spanish original of Alejandro Sol Tejedor, posted on Facebook on April 1st 2016)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Find the sexist inside of you

Pretty much all over the western world a fear is rising that barbaric people from the East and from the far South will destroy our culture. That 'refugees welcome' equals importing rape and murder and that our peaceful, racist- and sexist-free society is threatened by a huge wave of indecent behaviour.

     Rapes per 100,000 persons in Germany, 2007: 10,7
     Rapes per 100,000 persons in Germany, 2017: 13,7

The increase is said to be mainly due to stricter laws and because more and more women are finding the courage to denounce aggressors. The fruits of feminism. But of course a small percentage might also be related to the growing numbers of Arabic males in the population. Let's face it: Unfortunately, not all immigrants are nice people. To say though that they are the cause of all evil is ridiculous! We don't need Islamic fundamentalists to have crying women in our neighbourhoods. As the above figures clearly show, even without mass immigration the Germans were happily raping away. And we still are, only that now we can blame the Mustafas from Syria for all the sins.

Ultimately, rape, murder and any other kind of violence is not a problem of certain ethnic groups. It's a human problem. And the problem continues to exist because, like with most problems, we're not really dealing with it.

Here's a recent example from Spain: Five men get drunk and gang rape a woman. The judges don't classify it as rape and so the five idiots get only nine years in prison. There's public outrage and the whole country is fighting in endless talk shows and Facebook posts whether it was actually rape or not.

1st problem: How is it possible that we even have to discuss something like this? Are we still living in the middle ages? Somewhere in the dark alleyways of King's Landing? This is insanely sick! A woman gets cornered by five drunken men, all with their dicks out and encouraging each other to fuck her real hard. Whether you call this rape or not, it doesn't matter – treating a woman (or man) in this way deserves a life sentence, full stop.

2nd problem: Neither a life sentence nor any other time spent in prison will change anything. It won't take away the trauma of the woman, it won't turn the five guys into better people and, most importantly, it won't help society to learn.

An alternative way of dealing with this problem could be this:
  1. The five men don't need a prison sentence, they need therapy!
  2. Instead of consuming the taxpayer's money (in other words, yours and mine) by sitting in a cell watching stupefying television and acquiring drug trafficking skills from other inmates, why not have them work in an old people's home? Cleaning bumps for a few years might help to clear the shit from their minds.
  3. After therapy and social service they have to do a nationwide tour, to pubs, clubs and schools, speaking about their experience from start to finish. Sharing what they've done wrong and how they've learned why it is wrong.
It wouldn't heal the trauma of this particular Spanish woman but at least it would help to prevent future nightmares for other women. It would start to solve the problem instead of continuing to lock it away.

Sadly, right now this is a utopia. It will take many courageous political decisions to turn it into reality and we all know that, unless there's a juicy war to fight, political decisions take time. But fear not, there's something you can do in the meantime:

Find the sexist inside of you!

All of you – men, women and everyone in between. Because rape is just the spiky tip of the iceberg in a society that has gotten used to believing that men are the superior beings. Only when the last bit of patriarchy dies inside each one of us, only when equality becomes something we don't have to talk about any more, only then a woman will feel as safe and respected in this world as a man. And only then, when it's truly one species again, will dignity return to all men.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Growing Revolution

Last month I wrote about the growing storm in the financial system. That it won't be long before one of the many bubbles will burst, causing an economic crash that will make 2008 seem like the good old days. But of course the world of money isn't the only area which needs urgent correction.

There's also a social storm, the divide between rich and poor is getting totally out of hand and countless other social injustices (racism, sexism, civil rights violations, etc.) are no longer tolerable. There's an environmental storm – we're fishing all the fish, cutting all the trees, polluting every river. Not even necessary to talk about climate change for who wants to live in a world without fish, trees and clean water? If we continue how we live, twenty years from now this place will look like hell.
There's a storm of unhappiness. Just look at the rates of depression. Or walk through any shopping centre and count the truly happy faces.
The education system is in a mess too, producing machines instead of creators. Most of agriculture continues to be a poison industry. Wars, corruption, prejudice – that's really the best we can do?
In short: We need a major revolution of everything!

Latin: revolutio = “a turn around”

To pause, reflect and choose a different direction. Right now we're driving the human van deeper and deeper into the mud. Soon we'll get stuck and then we'll drown in shit. Doesn't sound like much fun to me. And well, the only way to turn around is by having a full-blown revolution. Plain and simple. Or do you see any other solution? Because let's face it, time isn't on our side.

There are many ways how you can feed the needed changes. Making more conscious decisions when you spend your money, rising awareness about injustices, striving to be happy without harming others – that kind of stuff.

For me, one of the most helpful change boosters over the last years has been gardening. It's purely miraculous what it does to the human soul! Time spent outdoors, hands in the Earth, harvesting local and organic food, watching plants grow – it really makes me happy. And when I'm happy, I'm a better person.

So perhaps as a global community we'd highly benefit from a GROWING REVOLUTION. To ground ourselves and reconnect to nature. To cultivate serenity and gratitude. Starting with flowers, herbs and vegetables and then moving on to plant trees, friendship, equality, consciousness and peace.

I've written a book about this. It came out last week and is called SEÑOR GONZALEZ AND THE GARDEN OF LIFE.

Instead of getting excited about the latest phone we could get excited about simplicity. We could share more and let go of the idea that happiness and contentment can only be bought with lots of money and understood with complicated theories. Generosity instead of greed, cooperation instead of war, diversity instead of monoculture. To live in harmony with nature, together with our phones and cars but especially with a big heart and common sense. All a utopia, sure, but how will it get better otherwise? How will it end?”

So far it's only available in German. Sorry. Hopefully this will change at some point. In the meantime, here's some music to get you into the mood: Mr Mikosch – Growing Revolution

Rise up my friends, it's time to bloom! Life is beautiful. Let's be beautiful too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A growing storm

We were sitting on the beach, resting after a game of frisbee. My 15-year old daughter let the sand run through her fingers, her breathing was calm. “The next crisis is coming”, she said and looked up to the blue horizon. No sign of pessimism. No drama, no fear, no holding on. Her beautiful brown eyes filled with nothing but realism.

The last few months I've been following very closely what's happening in our beloved financial system. The last time I've done this was in 2009, just AFTER the economic crash of 2008. This time I want to get informed BEFORE the crash.

I'm sitting on the train while writing these lines and have just finished flicking through the Sunday paper. Shares and bonds continue to be regarded as safe investments, the real estate market is booming. “10 years after the burst of the housing bubble new records are made again.” Good times for everyone who's happy to get into debt. The question is: How long will it last?

The experts I read and watch – like Chris Martenson, Mike Maloney (who gave talks in 2005 warning about the housing bubble, three years before it burst) and others – they all agree on two things. 1) It's very difficult to predict WHEN the next financial crash will hit us, and 2) it is absolutely certain that it WILL hit us. Some say possibly this year, others in two or three years. Either way, it won't be very long. Mike Maloney calls it the 'Everything bubble' – stocks, bonds and real estate, already now they're all hopelessly inflated. Never before have so many people and countries been in so much debt and still everything is done so that the spending party can go on. In an apparent attempt to stabilize the system, the central banks keep creating money out of thin air and pump billions of dollars into the markets. A bit like trying to put out a burning house with buckets of petrol.

There's more to look forward to, like the retirement of the Baby Boomers which might trigger the collapse of the pension systems, or the millions of jobs that will be killed by digitalization and automation within the next decade, or the environmental armageddon unfolding on planet Earth. But for now let's stay with the smouldering debt fire.

If a massive financial crisis is indeed inevitable, as many confess and logic suggests, well, what to do? In the long-term a new economic system will bring more joy and justice to the world but the short-term ride could well be a bumpy one. Here are a few things that might make the transition easier:

  • Accept what is and don't deny reality. Better to see what's coming than being surprised and paralysed by shock.
  • If somehow possible, get rid of your debt and avoid making new debt. I know this is much easier said than done for many of you, but still, it's worth aiming for a debt-free existence. Especially in times of crisis.
  • If you have savings, consider transferring some of them to the oldest and most crisis-proof currency there is: gold and silver. As a little bonus, both these precious metals are very undervalued right now so you might even come out better on the other side. Who knows...
  • Keep some food, water and drugs nearby. And friends. Friends are super important when the world goes nuts.
  • If you have space for plants, take up gardening. Apart from giving you some food to eat it's also a haven for peaceful disconnection. When I have my hands in the soil I never worry about this crazy world. I just am.
  • Last but not least: Don't blindly trust what you read in the news (any news!) or from bloggers like me who spend too much time on youtube. There is an abundance of misguidance out there. Be open and curious and learn to trust your own experiences!

What remains is the question why my daughter 'knows' that a crisis is coming. Well, luckily she has a History teacher who seems reasonably switched on. And it is history that clearly shows that all empires have ended, that greedy growth can't last forever. No rocket science needed. It's just the way it is.

The dark clouds are getting darker. If you look closely, you can see the storm already raging. It will bring thunder and lightning and many will get soaked in cold rain. But then, afterwards, everything will be clean and calm again. At least for a little while...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Shakespeare was right

All day I was waiting for an email.
It never came.
Now what?

I really wanted sunny weather on Sunday.
Got disappointed.
Non-stop rain and my plans all drowned.

'That party will be the best one ever.'
It turned out different.
Tremendously boring and me feeling agitated.

I was hoping the new shoes would make me happy.
They did, but only for a little while.
Back to emptiness.

I was convinced to meet my perfect match.
I was wrong.
Now lonelier than ever.

Shakespeare once said, 'expectations are the root of all heartache'.
He was right.
They're killers of magic!

Friday, January 19, 2018

The bus stop

A common situation
You missed the bus by two minutes.
You sit in a bar waiting for a friend.
Your plane is delayed by half an hour.

What we tend to do today
Get the phone and check whatsapp. Briefly look up, then check facebook. And twitter. Look up again. Check emails. Scroll through instagram. Drink some water. Answer a whatsapp message. Check the weather report. Check whatsapp again. Consider to change the profile photo. Put away the phone, look around, sigh, panic and grab the phone again.

What we used to do
Reflect on a recent experience. Talk to a stranger. Read a book. Admire the clouds. Compose a song. Paint a picture. Feel the sun on the skin. Close our eyes. Dream. Remember a sweet kiss. Find a solution for a business problem. Brainstorm a new idea. Sit in silence. Watch other people. Wonder about the universe. Enjoy a moment of peace. Embrace solitude.

The verdict
No, not everything used to be better. But likewise, today not everything is good.
There's a space between black and white, between old and new. Find it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Religion vs Faith

Most people don't choose their religion. If your parents are catholic, you become catholic; if your parents are Muslim, you become a Muslim; and if your parents are screwed up hippies, you probably become a Buddhist. It's like in football – usually you follow the same team as your Dad.

Ultimately, to me religions are like clubs where people with similar interests and beliefs come together. Like a sport club, or a science group, or a women circle. People sharing passions and history. And it feels good to share. To not feel so alone in this lonely life.

The problem with religion is that it's too strongly linked with faith. Faith provides comfort and hope and, most importantly, it soothes the fear of the biggest unknown there is, death. Take this away, or threaten to take this away with criticism, and people react as if their survival was in danger. 

However, all the wars fought over faith and all the ongoing religious conflicts are completely unnecessary because your faith is yours. No one could ever take it away from you. It's a direct, vertical connection between you and that entity called God. Religion, on the other hand, is a horizontal connection between people.

Unfortunately, in our world, past and present, there's always been far too much concern with religion and far too little focus on faith. Maybe the reason for this is because the cultivation of faith is a road of great solitude. Nobody else can walk your walk, no one can tell you what's right or what's wrong. It's just you and the big cosmos of possibilities. And unlike religion, where you can blindly follow others, faith requires you to make choices by following your very own heart.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter what you call your God – Lord, Allah, Krishna, Nature or Love. And even if you choose Nothingness as your God, that's fine too. I do think though that death is less scary and life is more meaningful if you believe in something more than mere emptiness. When there's a feeling that you're part of something bigger. Something sacred. Something that helps you to trust.

The moment you die, religion won't help you. On your journey to the other side you won't be accompanied by neither friends nor priests, and you won't be able to take any holy books either. It will be just you. You and whatever you believe in.