“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”
Albert Einstein

Homeless in Romania

n

Sam is an American that has been living in Romania for many years. We crossed paths (and met in person) while Andreea & I were renting an apartment in Cluj Napoca before moving out to Bhudeva. He is a unique character who has a unique perspective on Romania because (a) he didn’t grow up in Romania (his perspective is aligned with the values and cultural norms of a modern western world) and (b) because he now lives in Romania (which is a far cry, for better and worse, from a ‘modern western world’).

Sam is an excellent writer and story teller and from what I’ve seen so far his story-telling abilities do cross-over to the video format with which he has been exploring for a while. He has touched extensively on the subject of Gypsies in Romania in many engaging posts on his website. My perspective is usually slightly different then his because he lives in a city and I live in a village. In typical Romanian village settings there is more integration due to the more natural (=close to nature) settings of village life (Gypsies are bigtime outdoor folk). His depiction of the Gypsy story from a Romanian and a wider European perspective is well told.

He has recently launched a Kickstarter to complete editing and publishing a movie about Gypsies in Romania:

The story of Gypsies exposes cultural attitudes and prejudices that are present in many personal (between people) and social (between ethnic groups and countries) views. Such attitudes (what is culture, what is progress, what is criminal, what is education, what is money, what is quality of life, etc.) often go unchallenged within homogenous groups because there are agreed underlying (often unspoken) agreements into which most members are indoctrinated. Gypsy culture challenges many of these attitudes. But more importantly it challenges how different attitudes (to those accepted in a given culture) are met (within a given culture). Many cultures like to pride themselves on being open, tolerant and inclusive … until they are put to the test by meeting and living alongside people who are different, people who challenge the norms, people who are not inclined to conform to the norms – in this case gypsies.

Robert Pirsig, in his book Lila, describes a fascinating relationship between Native American Indian culture and American culture:

“The new intellectualism of the 20’s argued that if there are principles for right social conduct they are to be discovered by social experiment …

… intellectuals became excited about anthropology in the hope that the field would provide facts upon which to base new scientific rules … Here in this country, American Indians were suddenly revived as models of primitive communal virtue …

The moral values that were replacing the old European Victorian ones were the moral values of American Indians: kindness to children,maximum freedom, openness of speech, love of simplicity,affinity for nature. Without any real awareness of where the new morals were coming from, the whole country was moving in a direction that it felt was right.

The western movie was another example of this change, showing Indian values which had become cowboy values which had become 20th century all-American values. Everyone knew the cowboys of the silver screen had little to do with their actual counterparts, but it didn’t matter. It was the values, not the historical accuracy,that counted.”

A similar and amusing parallel can be witnessed in modern day Romania where Romanians look down at Gypsies and then on one of their holidays (don’t remember which one – I think it’s something around New Years) Romanian girls love to dress up like Gypsies (who typically wear colorful, shiny, flower decorated, happy clothes). The cultures of Native American Indians have, for the most part, been trampled by modern American society. Gypsy culture has not yet been trampled. It continues to shout out in the face of modern European western culture and it refuses to bend. It takes its own slow and stubborn (excellent qualities in the face of todays ubiquitous fast and uninhibited) path, mingles where it can (such as village life) and collides (sometimes as a criminal elements) where it can’t.

The natural response of modern western European society is either racist (rejection) or colonial (taming and control) – both extreme and intolerant in their own way. The Gypsy situation highlights these extremeties and brings them to the surface – and Sam does an excellent job of depicting this aspect of the story. I hope this comes across in the movie … because I believe there are precious lessons to learn about cultural evolution from this story … and this is something many cultures can benefit from.

So if you are interested in this unique perspective that Sam has revealed then please consider donating to the project and spreading the word about it:

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The PRISM Thing

n

As I was reading throgh this article about the surveillance drama in the USA these thoughts flowed through me:

There is really very little quality information available (see the PRISM details matter).

The huge data-storage facility being built by the NSA or CIA or what not … casts a dark shadow over all possible doubts … if they are preparing to store so much information then they are going to collect (and are probably already in the process of collecting) so much information.

Speaking of “they” … I believe that at some level “they” are right to want this information … it probably does help them play their part in the failing security story we are living in.

Speaking of security … if “they” were to surrender their ambitions and scale back “their” surveillance” how understanding and forgiving would “we” towards “them” when the next “shocking” terrorist attacks take place?

There seems to be a fashion of “we” complaining about “them” … but very little that “we” are willing to do/change/give-up so that we need less of “them” and what “they” do.

It is up to “we” to change our world views, to create a better story of security (or maybe even a story that goes way beyond security?) … until “we” do “they” will continue to service “we” and “we” will continue to complain about “them” doing the job “we” ask “them” to do …

Maybe this self-inflicted drama is a (granted twisted) door to an opportunity for change … maybe the enemy from “within” a society is more negotiable then an enemey from “outside” a society. Maybe if “we and them” can be transformed into an “us” within the USA and its western allied countries … then maybe we’ll be able to export that capability to transform to other, more remote cultures and countries?

Sounds like “we” have stumbled onto a precious enemy … ourselves.

 

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We don’t completely control …

n

As flooding continues in mainaland Europe I continue to be amused by the “authorities responses”:

“We should accept that we humans should be humble, that even in the 21st century we don’t completely control nature – that is one lesson from this situation.”

Nature is not for us to control … and it seems that “we humans” are still in dire need of more lessons to make that perfectly clear to us. No fortifications (built at the expense of nature) can hold back nature. We are welcome to live with nature, we will not be allowed to subjugate it. We still have quite a learning curve ahead of us when it comes to humility.

The lowest places belong to water. Houses and roads should be built in higher places. While it may have been sensible for civilization to develop alongside water-ways it is just as sensible to realize that we need to improve on that historical pattern of evolution.

I was just thinking yesterday about gravity. Gravity is a force of nature that we cannot deny – we learn to live with it, we have to … and ultimately it works for us in many ways .. in fact so much so that we take it for granted. Other forces of nature are not quite as demanding of us … they are more inviting. It is up to us to either accept their invitations or resist them … and to live with the consequences of our choices.

I realize that the idea of relocating cities may sound crazy but history has shown that it is possible. We were able to rebuild cities that were practically destroyed during wars. It is possible, just hard for us to accept. If more people migrate from cities to rural living then future cities may also be smaller … and since villages are smaller – they may be easier to redesign/relocate.

Or we can leave things as they are, continue to press nature to support our way of life. To then get struck by nature as it tries to assimilate our demands of it. And then feed on the drama of the consequences of our choices … and look for ways to further alienate ourselves from nature (by placing even more stress on it) … until we lose the battle … because nature isn’t going anywhere anytime soon … we may be:

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One Messed Up “Society”

n

From 47% of Britons will develop cancer in their lifetime by 2020

“By 2020, 47% of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point before they die, according to projections drawn up by Macmillan Cancer Support.”

That is one messed up society … but there is good(!) news:

“Macmillan’s analysis includes good news too, though. It anticipates that the proportion of people who survive a diagnosis of one of the 200 or so forms of cancer will reach 38%.”

And after all is said and done:

“We also recognise that we need to be looking at how we can help cancer survivors get back into their day-to-day lives after their treatment is complete.”

Britons will be able to go back to their day-to-day cancer inducing life and maybe by 2020 they will have new statistics on percentages of people who have managed to survive cancer twice  – that is before they die.

British Future Quality of Life Scale: (1) Alive; (2) Survived Cancer; (3) Has Cancer; (4) Survived Cancer Twice; (5) Has Cancer 2nd Time; (6) Dead.

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Nature Votes No on Housing

n

Reading about flooding in Europe and thinking (a) how grateful I am for the relatively moderate and safe climate I live in and (b) what if we’ve been constructing houses in all the wrong places? I don’t follow news frequently enough, nor thoroughly, nor do I have a good memory … but it seems to me that both frequency and intensity of such events are on the rise.

For the time being we (as in humanity) seem to be using two of our facilities to mitigate these events: religion (we pray to avoid such events or that they pass quickly) and force (we build barriers to further isolate us from nature). Isn’t it time that we tried to bring some intellect into it?

As Bill Mollison & Sepp Holzer would probably say: the valleys (lowest points) are for water, houses and roads should go further up on the hills.

The wackiest thing would be to hear in a couple of months complaints about a drought that is threatening the world’s food supply. There is more than enough water, we need to learn how to store and use it more wisely. Our indulgent living has destabilized our ecosystem (the signs really are everywhere) – we can no longer rely on a constant flow of anything (sunshine nor rain). It is rdicilously childish to expect regularity yet that it what we continue to do. This is all our doing … and fortunately we can also undo or redo or do much better.

We are in a kind of planetary boiling-frog paradox. We have trained ourselves to expect a singular global melt-down: a meteorite, global temperature rises, global sea-level rises, peak oil, etc. But it seems that nature operates in a more organic and gradual way. We are bombarded by events that are trying to wake us up … and we don’t seem to recognize them as the manifestation of the meltdown that is already taking place. We continue to consume and protest and vacation, ignorant in denial of a change taking place around us.

In the words of Sarah McLachlan singing about letting go:

“Hold on
hold on to yourself
for this is going to hurt like hell
What is it in me that refuses to believe
This isn’t easier than the real thing”

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