Monday, September 10, 2018

Kings and Queens

The other day I talked to a friend who works for the Red Cross in the area of Tarifa, Southern Spain. He's responsible for giving first care to people arriving on boats from Africa. You know, those rich fellows in their luxurious pateras. Some days 200 arrive, other days 50 or as much as 500. Most days, some make it. And yes, most have mobile phones – even in Africa, cave-life is a thing of the past.

In the meantime, in Germany fascists chase immigrants along the streets and the Minister of the Interior thinks it's a funny coincidence that 69 refugees were sent back to Afghanistan on his 69th birthday. In Sweden, a former Nazi party got almost 20% of votes in yesterday's election; in Italy, the new government prides itself with refusing help to those seeking shelter; in the US, the president is giving praise to all Europeans who put flags before human lives.

Indeed, the issue of immigration is complicated. Putting 3000 people from a different culture into a village of 500 is not really a promising strategy for successful integration. There are other problems too, after all not all immigrants are nice people – if this was the case, I'd move to wherever they come from because I'd love to live in a place free of arseholes.

In short: Nobody said it would be easy to tackle the increasing influx of strangers. But considering that there will be many more resource wars, more hunger and drought in coming years, the current migration wave is just a little warm up. If we're failing already now, I dread to imagine what will happen when these tiny waves turn into a full-blown tsunami. Or what if fate turned around and Europeans suddenly would have to flee southwards to Africa. The last time, about 80 years ago, they received the foreigners with open arms – would they do it again?

Common reasons for the re-rise of hostility and protectionist attitudes are fear of the unknown, fear of terrorism (the type that most refugees are trying to escape from) and, not to be underestimated, stupidity. And of course there's greed.

I've read and seen a few interviews with supporters of right-wing parties who themselves have an immigration background. Their motivation for voting these parties is that they don't want to share their new found wealth with others. Once they've 'made it', they're scared that others will come, compete with them and jump the queue at Primark. Just like America first, here it's Me first.

Of course there are Germans and Spanish and Swedish and French who live close or even below the poverty line and who are worried that soon there will be nothing left for them. But 1) the vast majority of far right voters is living nowhere near the poverty line, they have a full wardrobe, a full fridge and often a passport full with stamps of countries they've visited. And 2) those who are indeed suffering from poverty in Europe would be much better off fighting investment bankers, corrupt politicians, ruthless lobbyists and all those millionaires who exploit and don't return anything but cheap plastic to society. And no, I don't have any problem with millionaires who had a good idea and worked hard – but how many are there? 

Blaming others won't get us anywhere though, so let's come back to us, to you and me. The reality is that we're living the lives of kings and queens. We have everything, much more than we need, but there is very little that we're willing to give. I don't want to share my hard-earned money with people who spend all day lazy on the sofa watching mind-destroying TV, but most poor people in the so-called third world who I met don't even have a sofa – they work, 24/7, earning just enough to survive. Their fault? Or does it perhaps have to do with the fact that many of them have no other choice but serving all those new kings and queens?

There's enough for everyone. But sadly, not everyone is happy with enough.




(While writing this blog article the radio is on in the background. The news are saying that tens of thousands of care workers are missing in Germany and the outlook is even worse. Last week I read that in 2048, Italy and Spain will be second and third in the ranking of oldest populations. So who's going to care for your mother and father in hospital? Who's going to care for you? It really puzzles me how we can be so stupid and short-sighted. The immigrants want our help? Great, we need help too! Let's offer them a language course, professional training, a decent wage (okay, difficult one since we don't even pay Europeans decent wages for these jobs) and a working visa, and in return they have to commit to work for five to ten years in the care/health sector. I'm sure many would happily accept this exchange. Two problems solved! And us lot? Instead we raise our flags and close our castles. Kings and Queens indeed.)



Monday, August 13, 2018

Climate change?

German summer 2018: Weeks on end no rain and minimum 30°C, up to 39°C! Fields and parks are as dry as the Andalusian countryside in August; crops are failing and trees are dying; forest fires; water shortages; the northern sea as warm as the Mediterranean. I was in Kopenhagen recently and got sunburnt! At the same time, in southern Europe most of the summer has been a very mild one. Call it what you want but I think we can all agree that the climate IS changing.

The question is: WHY is it changing?

Pete says it's a natural cycle, that for millions of years the climate has always gone from cold to hot and back again. No matter what humans do.
Paul says the climate change is man-made. By burning ancient fossil fuels we're heating up the atmosphere and disrupting thereby the balance of the eco system Earth. Full responsibility to us.

Pete says Paul is an idiot. A dumb sheep because in truth it's all a lie, a hoax, a way to control us and to make the rich even richer through green-tinted capitalism. No matter how much we burn, the climate changes anyway.
Paul says Pete is a conspiracy theorist. A climate change denier, a radical fanatic. A soon-to-be racist and flat earth believer.

Black and white, clear cut divide. Winners? None.

Here's the colourful version: The climate has and will always change, just like life itself changes constantly. In recent years the changes have sharply accelerated though and there is a very good chance that our wasteful lifestyle is the main reason for this acceleration.

Over time our species can adapt pretty well to new conditions but if the changes happen too quickly it can get painful. Since nobody likes suffering, the best strategy would be to drastically reduce our destructive impact on the earth. To move towards a more sustainable and healthy way of living.

Reality:

Global consumption of coal, gas and oil in 2000: 94,855 terawatt hours
Global consumption of coal, gas and oil in 2016: 132,051 terawatt hours (+ 39%)

Worldwide air passengers in 2000: 1.674 billion
Worldwide air passengers in 2017: 3.979 billion (+ 137%)

Global tree cover loss 2001: 13.8 million hectares
Global tree cover loss 2017: 29.4 million hectares (+ 113%)

Worldwide meat production 2000: 229 million tonnes
Worldwide meat production 2014: 317 million tonnes (+38%)


Let's put it this way: I really hope Pete is right with his climate hoax theory. Cause if he's wrong and Paul is right, meaning we're really fuelling global warming, we're fucked!

At the bottom of the whole problem lies, as so often, a resistance to change. Not accepting that everything in life changes, including this planet. And not embracing one's own ability to make everything a little bit better.





Monday, July 30, 2018

The magic pill

The first review of my latest book was a racist one. The type of, 'I'm not a racist, but...'. But what? One Earth, one humankind – no space for buts.

There were also plenty of other reviews which actually had more to do with the main content of the book: gardening, sustainability and serenity. Some comments were positive, others not so positive. I always find it really interesting to read the different perspectives, to see how each reader reads the same words but sees something different. True objectivity – does it exist?

A couple of reviewers criticized the book because, while it points out important ethical, social and environmental problems, it doesn't say what to do about it all. Just more of what we already know, they said. No solutions. I really struggle with this one, not because I don't like the criticism but because I don't understand it. The whole book is an ode to local and organic food, encouraging to consume as ethically and wisely as possible – what other solution do you expect when the topic is sustainable living? A machine that makes blue planets?

It reminded me of a phenomenon that I've seen many times in many different life areas, occurring in others and in myself. A human phenomenon, so it seems. It's called THE QUEST FOR THE MAGIC PILL.



  • Martin is ill, goes to the doctor and hopes to get one little pill which will eradicate all his suffering. 30 years of poisoned food and toxic habits taken away with one stroke of magic! If they existed, I guess I'd be tempted to take one of those pills too.
  • Angela feels sad and lonely and is looking for the perfect match in the world wide labyrinth of love. She too wants a soulmate, someone by her side, to cuddle and kiss and finally be happy. Because real happiness depends on THE ONE, doesn't it? Can't be happy by yourself. Look at Buddha, that miserable old git, he wasn't happy.
  • Dave blames the elite for all the misery in the world. No elite = happy planet. 
  • Natasha is dreaming of the perfect job. You know, where you get up with a bright smile every morning, spend 5 hours working in pure bliss and when you finish in the afternoon and check your bank account you're overwhelmed with a ten minute long orgasm. Nice dream Natasha. And good luck!
  • Edward is playing the lottery. Every Wednesday. He's got already a list with all the stuff he's gonna buy once he's rich. Surely won't be long now.
  • Suzy is reading the books by all the saints and philosophers and can't believe that noone is saying anything new. Only old wisdoms, repeated endless times. Where is that holy new scripture that will answer all her questions at once?
  • Steven is waiting for Jesus to come back and save his soul. And when he comes back he will nail him at a cross in his bedroom so that his soul will always remain protected. Then, and only then, everything will be alright.

In summary: The magic pill doesn't exist. Not very romantic, I know, but honest and real. And the beauty of this reality is that it carries already all the answers. Not one single special key to the door of happiness but instead a box full of tools to create our own little paradise. We just have to use these tools and start building – health, peace and happiness, brick by brick. And yes, it sucks at times, all this tedious work and constant change and struggle, but perhaps we should remember that for creators like us the joyful part is building, not moving in. Hence a magic pill would take away all the fun. It would make life easy – and terribly boring.

YES to learning. To discovering. To changing. YES to the journey of life. YES to Now!



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.