The Thrill of the Match

Coconut oil, battery pollution. Good, evil. Different bipolar messages dig their trenches through the Internet. What side to take? Who to believe? When my head of my government is corrupt, does it mean the institutions which control scientific data are also corrupt? Questions. No answers.

The realization of not knowing what media to trust anymore had in interesting effect on me. First I felt a little hopeless, then some rage set in followed by some feelings of victimization, but then… after I let it all pass, brightness broke through. I remembered the response of my friend on the coconut affair:

“The point is, that we’re asking questions. The point is, that we’re not following blindly whoever is yelling the loudest. The point is, that as a society, I see us beginning to practice temperance, observation, contemplation, moderation.
The point is, that we’re starting to cultivate the most important and often most neglected relationship of all — and we’re starting to listen to ourselves.”

Today, we have something unique. A large part of the world population — unfortunately, I can’t apply this to the entire globe — has lived in peaceful regions for decades. All thanks to the World War II aftermath slogan: “Never Again”. Post-war generations successfully created a system in which we, later generations, could grow up safe, supported and heard. We were given peace. We were also given documentaries, mini-series, and films that allowed to us witness what the devastating horrifying effects of war. Whether it happens between lords, knights, rebels, governmental armies, or vampires, war leaves nothing but death, despair, body parts, and broken hearts. Could anything be more the ‘last thing on earth’ we could wish for? (meant rhetorically, of course, I’m not inviting horrifying scenarios in the comment section)

The image that the current system is derailed and corrupted, is not just seen by the nimble-witted. It’s pretty obvious. However, corruption now doesn’t remove nor scar the memory of our peaceful decades in the past. We created peaceful connections and peaceful expectations, we practiced peaceful thinking, and most often if not always, we searched for peaceful solutions. Within that peaceful living, we’ve seen the rise of the Internet and experienced the feeling of disappearing borders (digital for now). We’ve learned alternative energy solutions are possible, and we’ve seen what humans can accomplish as a collective.

In my attempt to stir the pot of positivity, I’d like to share the qualities of this beautiful Peace Generation which grew up in countries where it was safe to walk the streets at night and where the government seemed reliable, at least for a decade or so, and in service of the people’s needs. We need to remember that we are not all radicals. We are peaceful.

The Peace Generation:

  • Has an unbreakable faith in itself and technology.
  • Is convinced that humanity is awesome and fully worth surviving.
  • Is aware that incredible challenges lie ahead.
  • Knows our energy use needs revision, NOW.
  • Knows fossil fuels need to be immediately replaced.
  • Knows our consumption habits need revision.
  • Knows disposable is ‘so last decade’.
  • Knows that living on relative little doesn’t have to change how one feels about himself.
  • Is aware that experience is more important than the story that can be told about it (which immediately debunks social media).
  • Is incredibly creative. All over young people are talking about and thinking of new ways of living together, creating sustainable communities, building ecosystems, and inventing new technologies to sustain ourselves and the environment.
  • Has unbridled optimism. Over the last year few years, conversations with friends have been deeper, more moving, more meaningful, and more creative than they’ve been in the many years before. Friendly connections have rapidly intensified and deepened. I don’t see my friends more often, but I see them better. It feels like we are ‘on’. I think we all know that we stand in the middle of what Brenee Brown calls, “the Arena”. We need to show up and be seen. As structures around us are crumbling, and something new will have to materialize between now and the next… well, we don’t know. Brenee Brown warns, “In the Arena, you will get your ass kicked.” This generation is ready.
  • Knows reading news doesn’t make you any wiser, just a lot more anxious.
  • Knows that work with and for the environment is generally accepted as the new COOL. Not because it’s yet another meme, but because being against the survival of your own species is pretty much universally accepted as Uncool. It’s one of those things you don’t do. In movies, individuals who place themselves above their own kind are called super-villains. Super-villains never win, have no friends, and have been horribly mistreated as kids. In they end, they are pitied.
  • Understands leadership is something you earn. When you earn the trust of your people, you are destined to be a successful and happy leader. If not, you are Scar.
  • Understands leadership means caring for the collective. If that is not the leading objective of the leader, this generation will never accept the self-imposed leader as their superior. Egocentric leaders play superficial games that are too transparent and thus, old news, and boring. There’s work to be done. Strong-arming belonged to an age in which emotional intelligence had no space. This has changed. Today in our age of peace, emotional intelligence is the way to go. Hold on, because this generation is evolving fast.
  • Believes the marshmallow test would serve well during presidential scanning.

What is most remarkable: the Peace Generation is activated. Instead of spending time watching the same daily reruns of desperate news-outlets, they rather invest their time in creating what they think will provide solutions for the mess we are in.

We all know humans cannot continue the same way. We have a MASSIVE garbage problem. We have Africa growing with a pace of which the consequences will be felt by the entire planet. Facing the future, we need to step into the Arena. We need to speak of topics no one wants to touch, such as limiting the number of children people can have. If we don’t, we’ll be nothing more than dodos walking of a cliff as in the cartoons. We need to talk about plastics, ocean pollution, fishing, agriculture, transportation, health care, equality, and a gazillion of other topics. Most importantly, we need to talk about education. We need to talk about the future of the children. There is so so much to be discussed, and it is happening. Discussions are firing all over the globe, on a moment to moment basis. People are moved.

The feel of today can be best compared to that fizzling feeling before a final match in a championship. A lot is at stake: We either win a trophy or we lose everything humanity has ever worked for. We feel that bright electric charge of not knowing what is going to happen and that all options are still open. It’s that thrill of knowing that if you want to win, you need to work hard, surpass your own boundaries, and believe in what you contribute.

Let’s get real. Life is not a trophy match. There is no glass divide between ourselves, the field and the players. We are not the observers, we contribute.
I feel a thrill in the air. Existing structures crumble like a dark witch. It claws into the fabrics of what was. We are living all on the edge. We have a chance of falling into what Jared Diamond calls, collapse, or we can persist. I believe in this Peace Generation that has been prepared to handle a tough cooky and that can work out a way of inclusion and collaboration. Together we create something new, something that will rise from within. We are a blessed generation who, because of that little window of peace created by our forebears, can steer away from violent programming.

How sex destroys the climate (and our politics): a story of Evolution

The world is a confusing place. Things seem to go in a gnarly direction and we don’t even fully understand why. Luckily, nature gives us clues, all we need to do, is look at our ancestors.

That’s exactly what American scientist and bestselling author Jared Diamond does in his book ‘Why is Sex Fun?’. Diamond manages to perfectly describe a raw nerve of our society today:

“Women are becoming intolerant of men’s self-ascribed status and are criticizing those men who provide better for themselves than for their wives and children.”

Diamond examines the role of men in society and does this by closely inspecting the lifestyle we evolved from: the hunter gatherer society. What he finds, is surprising. Systematic investigation among hunter-gatherer families offers tells us something different than we expected. Before we look at the new perspective, we will visit the mostly widely believed understanding of our past.

The Hunter Hero

The traditional anthropological perspective tells us that the male in hunter-gather societies hunts with the reason to bring home the bacon for his wive and children. By sustaining his family, he secures healthy offspring through cooperation with his wife, who gathers food during the day and takes care of the children. Scientists took the hunting-and gathering separation as a logical division of labor. Evidence from hunter gatherer societies today, however, give a slightly different picture.The astounding findings of researcher Kristen Hawkes of the University of Utah tell us that hunter-men are indeed occupied with the survival of their genes, but not in the way we thought.

The perspective shift

Hawkes discovered that in hunter gatherer societies, the ‘greatest hunters’ don’t hunt for their families. The successful hunters who tend to go for the largest game, usually eat the prey on the spot while dividing it amongst the other men, or they bring it back and share it with the entire group. In fact, the bacon he brings home is on average less valuable than the food his wife gathers during the day. Moreover, the ‘show off’ brings home less food than the provider hunter who doesn’t continually focus on big game. The ‘great hunter’ hunts for status and popularity. The big benefits he gets besides the food do not contribute essential value to his nuclear family. His wife is pretty much self providing ànd she takes care of the children.

It’s all about being Mr. Man

‘How does this behavior help with spreading semen?’ you might ask.

The answer is simple.

Hunter gatherers are humans, and humans have idols.

Diamond explains that when a man improves his status, he has more chance to secretively seed his offspring outside his own marriage (and thus commit adultery). The good hunter is often the (potential) father of many children born outside his own family. Women trade sex in order to be with status and a pair of courageously muscular genes. But what sounds like a good deal to the women, turns out to be pretty lousy in the long run. Though the family might enjoy the advantages of having a popular spouse and father, each member receives less food and continually relies on one man’s gamble to bring down the largest game.

TOO Familiar?

This situation feels uncannily familiar. Outside of hunter gatherer societies, this practice seems to equally exist. In our western world it is becoming crystal clear that a small group of big hunters aims for big piles of bacon. They divide it amongst each other. Think about it. CEOs, big managers and of course political leaders continue this ancient practice of showing off.

Now we know. The big show-offs impoverish their own nucleus. All the value this self-enriching-entity adds is in his own personal favor. He uses politics and capitalism to create status. He aims for the biggest game, pulls the trigger and shoots… over and over and over again. Until the game is extinct and the earth is exhausted.

Procreation leads to Extinction: An Evolutionary Paradox?

In hunter gatherer groups, devoted daddies who actually dó care about their core family and not just themselves exist but are, of course, not as popular. Most women still see ‘big game’ as status and success, even though the numbers don’t add up.

The desire for procreation has led to an urge for popularity. This urge for popularity, is becoming a leading force that is pulling our species down. Our human idolatry might very well be leading to our own extinction. It sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Yet, it is happening.

Outdated Ideas

It is time to step away from this outdated practice of male courting that assists the gradual extermination of the planet. We need to change the way we see status. We can either choose to acknowledge and embrace the efforts of the not-so-shiny, but much more reliable and balanced ‘providers’, who care and nurture, and who work together with women. Or we can choose for the self-enriching-entity and embrace the one who cares for the wellbeing of the one unit only, his own.

The responsibilities of the defects in our system lie with both our men and women. If we change our expectations about what men need to be and ‘status’, the world around can reflect this thinking.

Taming the Sioux of Standing Rock: The lessons of a 100 year old book

A grey, rainy day in Amsterdam. I find shelter in the window of a photo gallery. While rain drips into my collar, I stare through the glass and look into the face of a dark man, who’s skin is leathery and who’s eyes are turned away. Animal fur is wrapped around his shoulders and various types of majestic feathers, adorn his head. I’m standing face to face with a Native American Sioux of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, or so the gallery says. In his eyes, I see absence and harshness and the realness is striking.

Who is this man?

Who took the photo?

According to the gallery I’m looking at ‘One Bull’. The photographer is called Frank Bennett Fiske and the photo is taken over a century ago at the Standing Rock Reservation.

Over a hundred years ago… This presents an interesting perspective. Steamboats, wagons pulled by horses, and silver pocket watches have long since disappeared. Yet, the battle of the Sioux people at Standing Rock, continues.

Daily, the name of the reservation hits news channels worldwide, but what do I really know about Standing Rock? Sadly, very little.

I decide to investigate the history of Standing Rock, using mr. Fiske’s book (he was quite an eloquent writer) that carries the awkward title ‘The Taming of the Sioux’.

The book is unlike anything I’ve read. Through the perspective of the superior white-man, I witness the breaking of a culture. It makes a grim bedtime choice. Frank’s descriptions are vivid, visual, wretched and soaked in blood. ‘The Taming of the Sioux’ has a body-count that far exceeds the last 6 seasons Game of Thrones. Most importantly, it doesn’t have an ending…

The Taming of the Sioux

In 1889, the young boy, Frank Bennett Fiske arrives at the small settlement of Winona on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Winona on the Missouri River is stereotypical with its saloons and brothels and lays opposite Fort Yates, a US Army post founded to oversee several indigenous tribes.

Young Frank Fiske

While Frank’s father works as a civilian wagon master, young Fiske attends school together with the children of the Native Americans of Standing Rock. During his young years of living closely together with the indigenous, Frank Fiske develops an affection for the Sioux people and their culture.

Frank studies to be a photographer and makes the Sioux his primary interest, which they remain his entire life. Next to being a photographer, Fiske is a good storyteller. He writes several books dedicated to the tale of Sitting Bull and the Dakota Sioux.

Chief Sitting Bull is a fierce Sioux leader and medicine man who’s body is delivered at the Fort Yates mortuary a year after Frank’s arrival. The US army was frightened by Sitting Bull’s ‘Ghost Dance’ rituals and during his attempted arrest, the Chief was shot by the Standing Rock Agency police. Young Frank witnesses the delivery.

The Taming of the Sioux by Frank Fiske

According to Fiske, the beginning of the end of Sitting Bull starts with a young Paiute Indian from Nevada. The boy receives a vision with a message of redemption for all the natives in all the regions of the continent.

“Grandfather says when your friends die, you must not cry. You must not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life. I want you to dance every six weeks. Make a feast at the dance and have food that everyone may eat.”

While the peaceful Paiute message travels the continent, tribes of all regions answer the boy by organizing dancing ceremonies. Meanwhile the US army is held in a deep fear.

“The religious fervor into which these people were at once thrown was unparalleled and beyond all rational explanation. They were simply laboring under some strange psychologic influence not susceptible of explanation.”

Soon after spreading, the ‘Ghost Dance’ is sentenced by the US military and during the arrest of Chief Sitting Bull, his tribe members rebel. As a consequence, the shaman is killed.

Tatanka-Iyotanka / Sitting Bull

Without their leader, a part of Sitting Bull’s camp surrenders to the Standing Rock agencies while others find refuge in the camp of the Sioux Chief Big Foot. Not long after, Big Foot’s tribe is forced by the US army to surrender but during the disarmament a bloodbath erupts. The entire tribe dies at the infamous ‘Battle of Wounded Knee’.

Frisk’s observations of the bloodshed are vivid:

“As these guns poured in 2-pound explosive shells at the rate of fifty a minute, it may be observed that they did very good execution. In a few minutes two hundred Indian men, women and children lay dead and dying on the field, and those who were still alive were running panic stricken for the shelter of the ravine, pursued by hundreds of maddened soldiers.”

“Following the battle a heavy blizzard had set in, which lasted three days, and the bodies were found frozen beneath the new snow. Several women and children were found still alive, but so badly wounded and frozen that most of them died after they were brought in to the agency.”

“They surrendered, on January 16th. Thus ended the last real unpleasantness between the Dakota Sioux and the whites.”

Frank was wrong. It wasn’t the last unpleasantness. The story didn’t end.

Today, in the year 2016, a governmental Treaty of 1889 is violated. It’s not the first time; this very treaty, breaks a previous one. Frank Fiske’s exact words:

In 1889 a treaty was made in which the great, original Sioux reservation was broken up. All the land lying between the Cheyenne River and the White River in South Dakota being thrown open to white settlement for which the Indians were to receive $1.25 an acre. Many of the old Indians and chiefs were bitterly opposed to the treaty.

Today, something is different. Today, the Sioux people don’t stand alone. About 280 different tribes gather at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during what the New York Times calls ‘The largest, most diverse tribal action in at least a century’. These tribes survived a brutal genocide and in 2016, they still can’t live in peace. At Standing Rock there are over 20 unauthorized agencies deployed to arrest indigenous protesters. We all know why they are there. If you haven’t understood it yet, go back 100 years.

In 1917 Frank Bennett Fiske says:

“They had surely lost all of their old time childlike confidence in the white man and his promises.”

In 2007, under the Bush administration, the USA refuses to promise the United Nations that it won’t commit another genocide, as MSNBC reports:

In 2007 the United Nations passed a resolution on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It said: The Indigenous Peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace, and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any genocide or any other act of violence. The vote on resolution was 144 in favor and 4 against. America was one of the four countries that shamed themselves, by voting against the rights of indigenous peoples.”

In 2010 President Obama changes the vote.

Today, the whole world is watching the Standing Rock Reservation.

Look into the eyes of the Native Americans captured by Fiske’s camera. Would the people in the pictures have expected that over a century later, their grandchildren would still face the same threats as they did?

Let’s remember the past. Let’s remember Sitting Bull and lets realize that this story involves everyone. As we speak, fascism and hatred are rising and right-wing parties collect unprecedented numbers, both in the USA and in Europe. Trump is elected president… Trump hates immigrants, yet his brain doesn’t make enough connections to see that he’s part of one of the most bloody immigration waves this earth has ever known.

Sitting Bull was killed for dancing. Can we show today that not just the steamboat, but also the people coming with it, evolved?

Stand with Standing Rock.

“And now, after twenty-five years have passed, it is beginning to look as though the Messiah should have to come in order to straighten out the wicked world, or else destroy it altogether and make a new one for the Indians who, at least, had sonic respect for Him.”

Frank Bennett Friske (1883–1952)

Women Transform

I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men.

They are far superior and always have been. Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater.

If you give her sperm, she will give you a baby. If you give her a house, she will give you a home. If you give her groceries, she will give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she will give you her heart. She multiplies an enlarges what is given to her.

So if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit!

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William Golding (1911 -1993)

British Novelist, Playwright and Poet

The Tiny Space Shuttle

Imagine the following:

You are sitting in a tiny space shuttle, and you float through the solar system while orbiting earth. Darkness rules the world around you. Your  warm and comfortable cocoon levitates between endless twinkling stars. Earth, the planet you know so well, experiences night, somewhere far below.

Suddenly, a bright burning light awakens from underneath. It is the sun. She’s rising on earth, and warming your shuttle. In the light of this flaming star, you can now see the details of your planet, two hundred miles below you.

The earth is moving vaguely faster than your shuttle, thus endless oceans, clouds, seas and continents, pass through your window frame. You gasp. She’s mesmerizingly beautiful, your earth.

Without a sense of time, you marvel at the turquoise and white colors of paradisal beaches. You sigh softly at the soft pastels of the desserts. You surrender willingly to the unimaginable diversity of different greens.

Suddenly you understand… Earth is home. Not just your home, but the home of countless precious lives, all of different lengths.

sunrise

You remember earth.

You remember your life below.

You remember the worries you had, the victories you experienced, and the awkward moments of unforgettable embarrassment. You think of the expansive bliss you’ve felt on that planet, and the horrifying feeling of rejection. You recall the sensation of loss and you equally understand the what it means, to gain. You’ve seen decay, and witnessed seeding. You’ve been present at birth, gone through growth, fought maturity and finally… you’ve Woken Up.

This planet below you, this small orb we call earth, has been an incredible teacher. You now realize, that the countless experiences you’ve had, have only been possible, with the support of this place. Everything you’ve owned, experienced and loved, has been given to you by this ever changing, ever evolving, ever breathing and ever degrading planet. And you understand that this moving sphere, is just as much a breathing organism, as you are.

Times on earth can be confusing. You know this very well. The balance has been abandoned. Humanity has expanded, and grown in every direction imaginable. Positive, negative, in between. Everything you can think of, walks, talks and lives out there. You know that on earth, sexists claims their sexism, minorities claim their equality, women demand their shared responsibility, and liars seek leadership. You remember the madness, and you know that out there, all odds are off.

But you don’t worry.

You live in a tiny space shuttle, and you see the earth from afar. This shuttle teaches that when you zoom out, and look at the bigger picture, the story changes. From a distance, personal narrative turns into a beautiful blend of colors, feelings, sounds, smells, and thoughts.

You know what it means to be alive down there. You also know, what it means to be in the space shuttle.

You look down in pure admiration. She’s your earth.

(Inspired by an incredible episode from Radiolab )