Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cultural Momentum


"Relationships of ownership
They whisper in the wings
To those condemned to act accordingly
And wait for succeeding kings.
And I try to harmonize with songs
The lonesome sparrow sings
There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden"

-Bob Dylan

Yesterday, whilst mowing a large hillside of weeds in the tractor and listening attentively to the latest Eckhart Tolle offering The Findhorn Retreat on the trusty iPod, it occurred to me just what was happening. A nest of Pukekos was scampering for a hasty retreat, lest it come to rest under the tractor. Yikes! All safe and sound in the end with some NASCAR type driving. Tolle, the soft spoken German and author of the best selling non-fiction Power of Now, has in this latest recording continued sharing his conceptual thinking on presence of mind and the difference between form and formless. If you believe there is more to life than living, and more to death than dying, it will be understood and received with familiarity. If not, you won't make it very far through the 4 CD set.

Staying in the world of personalities, although most definitely in the worldly sense; two men I have come to enjoy listening to for their sense of humour and wit, as well as timing and intelligence are on this clip together. Yes, Jon Stewart on the David Letterman Show. Jon talks about his family, having the President of Pakistan on his show, and a few other tidbits. From the site of choice for the agnostic crowd, One Good Move.

Between the mystical underpinnings of a New Age guru to the world of cultural transformation, my media consumption can
be called anything but limited at the moment. The book I finished this weekend, called Escaping the Matrix by Richard Moore, is a convincingly well written indictment of current as well as historical "democratic" societies; using the metaphor of the Matrix as a vehicle for the manufactured reality perpetuated by the wealthy elite to keep power. His remedies for getting out of "dominator" type societies into more "participative" societies include optimistic but very plausible local action initiatives gaining momentum for eventual political revitalisation and cultural transformation. I could comment at length on this, having been a supporter of community and local initiatives as opposed to any type of centralised governing structure for many years. It hits home when I see the genesis of the movement in my own community on this island. An excerpt from the book sums up a bit on its own:

"The situation is much different, however, when people have sovereignty over their own communities, and when they use harmonisation instead of majority rule. Under such a democratic system, there is no tyranny to protect ourselves against: each of us participates equally in the decision-making process, and our concerns are taken into account along with everyone else's...The only fixed guarantees needed in a democratic society are guarantees that communities have sovereignty, and that participatory democracy be used to decide issues within and among communities. And the best guarantee for these things is a culture based on harmonisation."

A bit Utopian? Perhaps. But, if you live in a small community, and local decisions effect your life in a very direct way, you can see often how productive it is to switch from adversarial politics to collaborative. The local food movement, and the enormously popular CSA, is just one example.

Another great example, is the just recently named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Muhammed Yunis, and the Grameen Bank he founded to make local loans to the local poor. In the process, he created a new economic movement called Microcredit. Primarily focused on the rural, and women, it is a system devised around collaborative effort that has been successful in lifting millions out of poverty. That has got to be a good thing.

Anything is possible.
And some things actually happen.



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