Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The perfect village

Strangely enough, there were even lonely people amidst the masses.
(The Little Buddha)

Next year around this time we will count seven billion people on planet Earth. 7 billion! That’s a lot of people!
With the world getting that busy
, you would think that we are moving closer together. Well, physically we do. But emotionally? We have incredible communication systems, but do we feel connected? Are emails and skype chats enough to satisfy our emotional needs?
For me, sometimes they are. But most
of the time they’re not. I always call it the curse of globalisation: Having great friends all around the world, but not being able to popp by for a cup of tea. And it’s not only friends. Families are spread out thousands of kilometres apart. Sharing life in the traditional way becomes difficult that way. Sharing those special moments that make us feel happy human beings. Because for these, we need humans. A computer screen doesn’t do it.

I live in the countryside, five minutes away from a small village. I have a garden, orange and walnut trees and plenty of space. I can put the music as loud as I want, pretty much whenever I want. There are some friends around and I know the names of my neighbours and of the guy I buy my flour from. So far so good. But – and of course there is a but – the village is of the villagers. It doesn’t feel like my village.
Not long ago I was walking with a frie
nd through his hometown, and he greeted an old teacher. For me that was a really nice example of community. Of being connected with those around you. I know that unless I move back to my hometown I won’t be able to experience the same. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it.
Of all the people I know, maybe 10% live within a fifty kilometre radius. 10% is better than nothing, sure. But it really sucks not having the other 90% closer! Sometimes I wish I could get all the people I love to live together in one area. But unfortunately that’s impossible. No matter where I go.

You could say that all this is my personal issue, because I live alone in the countryside. And yes, sitting by myself in an empty house in the winter can be quite depressing. But really I don’t think it’s only me. Almost everybody I talk to is looking for a place where they might be able to settle down. A place to slow down, live, share, create, maybe even grow old. A perfect village. And while there are many different factors at play, in the end it’s always a question about people: Where can I find enough friends to feel at home?

I guess one solution would be to become really rich, buy a big plot of land and get everybody there. Once my book is a bestseller I might come back to this option. In the meantime: What to do?
Another possibility would be to move back home. Home in the sense of ‘where I grew up’. Problem is, who is left there? Almost everybody has moved somewhere. So unless lots of others would go back as well, it wouldn’t be an improvem
ent. That leaves us with two options: Going to look for that ideal place somewhere, or staying where you are and create it. Searching or settling. Giving up or trying. Starting something new or recycling the old.

I feel that whatever we choose, the challenge is to (re)connect with those who live around us. To create meaningful relationships in a sea of seven billion. To build communities. To make friends.
If nothing else we need to be hopeful. Maybe one day we are living together in that perfect village. Or we will have created lots of perfect vill
ages all around the globe. Just like in the old days. A real community. Where you can meet your best friends for a chat any time.
Not on facebook.
But offlin

Sunday, December 12, 2010


"Time is what keeps everything from happening at once” (Ray Cummings)

Today I spent a few hours in a bookshop at the aiport in Málaga, signing copies of THE LITTLE BUDDHA. In between I was reading in some of the magazines that were on sale in the shop. At some point I was flicking through the english GQ magazine. It’s crap, I know. Anyway, what struck me was 1) the amount of advertisement for a magazine that costs 6 Euros, and 2) the kind of products advertised. I ended up counting some of them. What do you think is the product that is by far the most advertised one, in a ‘cool’ man magazine, in the december issue? No, not cars. Not snowboards either. Watches!

I counted only full page (A4) ads. In the first 30 pages there were 13 only about watches. That’s almost half! Next in line? Perfume, with 7 out of 30. The whole magazine counts 336 pages, of which there are 36 full-page watch advertisments.
Where on earth does the male fascination for watches come from? Everybody has a mobile phone nowdays – some people have even two or three – and every mobile phone displays the time. So does this mean that all these guys wear all those expensive watches only to show off?
Nothing but jewellery? Or maybe it’s some kind of code, to demonstrate that you are ticking right...

Most philosophies talk about the importante of the Now, of living in the present. Yet it seems that the world over people are madly obsessed with a fashionable device that distracts the owner from the present moment. A device that puts life in chronological order.

Yet isn’t that what it’s all about, that everything is happening at once?

Right now.

From THE LITTLE BUDDHA - "The man without time",
© Rosie May Harrison

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Revolution – latin revolutio – “a turn around”

A fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.

During the past week, two events took place. The first was an unexpected strike of the flight controllers in Spain, resulting in the whole spanish airspace being closed for one a day. Chaos, as you would imagine when lots of people who want to travel somewhere get all stuck at the same time in the same place. To resolve the issue, the spanish government declared a state of emergency over the whole country. This is the first time this has happened in 30 years. Basically, it puts the country under military control, similar to a state of war where you have to follow the orders from above.

It goes without saying that the controllers are greedy bastards, how can you dare to be unhappy earning 200.000 Euros per year in a time of severe economic crisis?! However, something else has struck me even more: 2000 flight controllers were able to cause a country of 40 million people being put under a state of emergency. Quite an extreme response I find, makes me wonder what they’d do if there is a real problem one day... It looks like the government is getting increasingly nervous and is starting to loose control. Quickly.

The other ‘event’ that was all over the media last week was the Wikileaks drama. What happened? Some internal embassy information got published and all those who are in power cried out with indignation, determined to stop similar actions from happening in the future. Sorry, but who talked again about transparency? Right, the politicians. I really hope that Wikileaks will continue to publish all these hidden documents, because there is absolutely no reason why our governments should have secrets from us. None.

In both cases, the spanish flight controllers strike and the Wikileaks publications, relatively few people have caused a huge uproar, shaking the foundations of a badly build palace. There are many more examples of people and independent organisations who stand up to the big system, and every day there are more. Thanks to the kindness of Google, Skype & Co words are spreading like wildfire nowadays, and so the stories go round the globe in no time. While institutions are starting to crumble, more and more people realize that we are heading in the wrong direction, that it’s time to turn around, time to change the mess we are in. A movement in acceleration. More and more, until a thousand spears will bring down the giant.

The Right of Revolution, a philosophy going back to ancient China, is the right or duty of the subjects of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests.

Keeping secret information from us is not in the common interest.
Keeping corrupt banks alive with our money is not in the common interest.
Keeping a system that serves few and harms many is not in the common interest.

Power to the people!