All posts by Karina

Talking about revolution in human evolution

 

 

revolution |ˌrevəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n|

noun

1 a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.

I would have join. If my twenties had been during the 60s, or the 80s in Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, Peru or Colombia, I think I would have joined. To have gone all the way as to take arms, shoot and its eventual consequences, I don’t think so, at least not myself. Yet, my ideology, my fervent desire to “change” things, my revelry, my studiousness of Marxist theory and the idealisation of the ever present omnipotent “other,” the “guilty” bad guys (the rich, the ones in power, the capitalists, blah blah,) versus the goodness of the “people” and the unquestionable belief in Che’s “New Man” (his version of an “evolved” human being based on Marx’s theory) would had had me join some form of subversive movement, even guerilla. At some point in my early twenties I wished I had been born in those times, and questioned my family members who were young students at the height of Latin American revolutionary movements and had missed the opportunity to join by not been at all politicised. I studied Latin American revolutionary history in University, along with Latin American Political Science, focused heavily on left wing movements and graduated convinced they had been right, that their glorious “save the world” fate had been cut short by the CIA and its cruel, inhumane disguised interventions.

I was wrong. I am now thankful I was born when I was born, for the lessons left by the failed revolutions for a Marxist theory admirer like me, are invaluable. And the lessons have a lot to deal with human evolution. This is the thing, Marxist revolutionaries fought (or at least claimed to and/or started fighting based on) the belief that humans can be perfected, that if the government/system were to take a certain path of action, humans would impeccably act for their community. I unquestionably believed in what is better said in the words of Kim Macquarrie:

“…man can be perfected, [he] can be imbued with the spirit of solidarity, of community. And [that] solidarity can somehow transcend one group dominating another”

It meant to be a good person to believe so fervently in the possibility of this type of equality and solidarity.

For us who sought, and maybe still seek revolution as to overthrow a system that is perceived to not having successfully plowed the best of humankind, it is worth to revisit this notion of “equality;” to me the first lesson of failed revolutions. First of all, humans have not figured (or at least I do not know of any) how to equably govern mankind, somehow, an elite is always on top. And the lessons from failed revolutions show just that, even with all the Marxist palette of executed revolutions, all ended up with elites whose members where not exactly too solidarity filled perfected human beings, and on the contrary many committed some of the world’s most infamous brutal atrocities.

On the other hand, equality for me as a mother now is also a mean of injustice. As a female I get pregnant, my body goes through changes and demands from me more attention, more rest. When my child is born, if I am to be a responsible loving mother, consciously raising a child to be freed of inherited hidden mistreatment (what Gutman calls “systematised abuse”) then, I need time to look inside of me, I need to slow down, to rest. Yet, if I am sincerely immersed in my career, in my contribution to society, or simply, if I just can’t afford not not to work, I have to go back to a full time job when my baby is only three months old, and all mothers know babies are too small to be left to the care of others at three months of age. Evolved societies in this aspect, like the Swedish, have taken this into account and have amazing maternity leave (and even paternity leave) laws. Allowing years of time to comfortably stay home to attend babies when they are in the phase of needing a mother’s (and none else can replace her) care and milk. Yet, most of the world doesn’t. On top of that, many of us women, earn less by doing the same job as our male counterparts, and those of us who have reached power positions have often done so by sacrificing our time with our babies. For me, equal opportunities is what should be the norm, for example, a job offering should be opened to anyone whose qualified not mattering their gender, race, age, and/or nationality. Yet, to be equally demanded is a no no. Differences should be taken into account, and when it comes to gender, a woman’s biological capacity to be a mother should matter. We mothers are tired, having to devote full time to a job and also wanting to be present in our children’s childhood, wanting to breastfeed yet many failing to do so as the exhaustion becomes unbearable, nevertheless consciously knowing the life long benefits we are leaving our children without that only breastfeeding can bring.

So yes, I do believe we need a revolution as to “change the social order into a new one,” but not exactly equality all around.

Another lesson brought by time and its failed revolutions is about markets. It is true our Planet’s market economy is based on environmental devastation, it is unjust with human communities along its supply chain, and this is made invisible to the end consumer, who usually reinforces this injustice and environmental destruction through his/her consumer choices notwithstanding good humanity, values, education, because he/she is simply unaware of the effects of the purchase. Yet I believe if the markets and the economic forces set on by our current economic system have had the power to do so much devastation, done responsibly, so too they have the power to reverse it. I believe in the power of conscious markets. Of production systems based on sustainable methods that support livelihoods and conservation of ecosystems, powered by conscious demand from consumers simply not buying any products whose origins are unknown. Markets fuelled by consumers freely choosing to support whichever form of production they see their choice enforces, because I do believe if we could see the impact of our choices, most of us would choose the one enforcing fairness and conservation of the resources that allow our own existence.

Finally, the most important lesson directly regarding what this blog is about is that regarding the notions of human evolution. While a “perfected” “new man” is a very attractive thought, I now believe human evolution lies in the acknowledgement of our intrinsic flaws, fears and misdemeanors. I recently watched a talked by Dan Pallota who I believed illustrated this splendidly. He explains how for him, an evolved humanity is not that where necessarily technological innovation and efficiency abounds, but instead, where each of us is capable of taking our masks off. Where we actively acknowledge each other’s fears, our dreams and unfulfilled dreams, especially our fear of not realising our full potential. Where kindness overflows, and we retreat, slow down, to seeing ourselves so to see others, so to be both human and kind.

I left my thoughts of a Marxist style revolution back in my early twenties, and came to revisit what I think of revolution as I was reminded of the Marxist effect in me when reading the story of Peru’s Shining Path insurrection and its leader, Abimael Guzmán, a story I had missed during my studies. I read Peru’s history of war and terrific violence across it, and the man behind it whose dreams and illusions -the justification for his actions- where precisely the injustices he saw so prevalent in Peruvian society, and the conviction a brighter world was possible. It reminded me of my fervent conviction in a human evolution to a “new” perfected man. I now like to think that if I had been on my twenties during the 80s and joined a subversive group, I soon had figured all this out then, quitting and maybe, just maybe, saving lives in the process.

Recommended links:

Dan Pallota:

Virginia Mosquera (Spanish):

“Derecho al placer”, la tierra prometida

Kim Macquarie on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Death-Andes-Bandits-Revolutionaries/dp/143916889X

Note:

I believe Marx is flawed, like all human beings, and thus, so is his theory, yet, it is worth while to read it and understand, not only for the fierce ardent influence it had and still has worldwide, but as a tool to see our system through its lens, in order to question and better it.

 

Markets and Trade Gone Good

Conditioned to question the WTO and other forms of trade enforcing global entities (see “Talking about revolution” as to why), I never thought I would be inviting anyone to support them. While I may be missing the conspiracy theory behind these efforts my subversive youth mind wanted me to look in everything coming from the WTO, I believe ITC (International Trade Center) is a wonderful institution whose efforts are in fact palpably creating opportunities that improve lives and care for ecosystems across our Planet. Through its many initiatives (listed with links below) I can only speak good things of my cooperation when working with ITC, an organization from the WTO and UN supporting Small and Medium size enterprises in small, developing or transition economies. I believe in the power of conscious markets to create long lasting positive impact. I invite you to take a look at a great organization and join any of the following:

 

http://www.intracen.org/

Trade and Environment:

http://www.intracen.org/itc/projects/trade-and-environment/

E-Learning:

http://www.intracen.org/itc/market-info-tools/e-learning/

Sustainability Xchange:

https://www.sustainabilityxchange.info/en

Ethical Fashion Initiative:

http://ethicalfashioninitiative.org/

http://www.intracen.org/itc/projects/ethical-fashion/

Woman in Trade:

http://www.intracen.org/itc/women-and-trade/

 

On a side note I also love ITC is successfully led by a woman 🙂

 

More on “Stuff”

Last week I wrote about the “story of stuff,” and how sustainability starts with knowing the story of our stuff. And while this is no easy task, it is also not to easy to get “stuff” whose origins you know are good to our entire human race, let’s say “evolved” stuff.

Yet, every day there are more and more efforts to create evolved stuff, as well as to let you know where to find it. Below a list of a couple I just came across:

www.greenerdailylife.com

www.canopybridge.com

http://ethicalfashioninitiative.org/

How is your time, your “rush” or your “slow” affecting our space?

Have you ever seen a sky filled with stars? “Dust” in between, a vast dark sky illuminated only by the endless starlights? On the few occasions I have been lucky to experience this, it has sparked in me thoughts of ancient civilizations and how this star filled scenery was part of their common night to night landscape. I think of the awareness from observation of constellations and moon cycles, and how it must have affected their lives. When I have visited ancient ruins, some with designs aligned so perfectly with astronomical events, it makes me wonder, how these civilizations, having technology and tools relying solely on observation, patience, and persistent detail-oriented work, came to create these enduring structures. Slow gained wisdom translated into slow crafted masterpieces.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to see starry skies, a joy of a rural lifestyle. I am also lucky to be able to remove myself to remote places not too far away (nor too expensive to get to) in order to see full, unpolluted by light, dark skies. Still, I do not do it as often as I wish. Day to day life, work, raising a child, family, friends, the book I am reading, or just that movie night I so much want, have been on my way. Modern life in other words.

Just in the same way the pace of my daily life -how I am expected to learn, deliver and solve/evolve so fast- has taken away my time to observe the stars, the moon cycles, the universe I belong to, so have I taken from observing myself and the effects of this “rush” on my feelings and my biology. I am speaking for myself, but I know I am part of a society speeding so fast as if constantly falling behind, I do not know from what, as I do not know where it is going, and why. Why do I rush? And no, the endless daily excuses of my rushing are not the answer.

I believe in the power of Slow. I actually believe wisdom is slow. Patience, persistence, detail, observation, care, compassion, are in essence slow. Aside from the few times where I have fully sincerely enjoyed a “quicky,” even good love making for me, is slow. So as I embark on this journey of sharing my thoughts on human evolution through this blog, slow is a pillar of it.

And within this pillar, are those who have admiringly fused Slow into this rushed world and have it become a business, an income, a movement. Slow Food International is for me one of the best examples; an evolved movement built on slow continuously reaching more. And while speaking in detail of Slow Food International will come in its own post, this one is meant to trigger exploration of the greatness of their message as well as just to reflect on what our own “rush” is, what it means to us, its causes and effects on us, on our families, communities and world. Einstein’s general relativity theory says time and space are inextricably interrelated, which means, time and space affect each other, always. So I ask, how is your time, your “rush” or your “slow” affecting our space?

Suggested links:

In praise of Slowness:  http://www.ted.com/talks/carl_honore_praises_slowness#t-254846

Nature, Beauty, Gratitude:

http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude#t-159091

Slow Food International:

http://www.slowfood.com/

The Story of My Stuff

In order to live on this Planet without boycotting future human generations, we need to be conscious of what is the story of our stuff. Yes, this could be a first step. Afterwards, we can look for alternatives and to acquire the things that exert the least negative effect on the resources that we require to live (like water, air, climate regulation, oceans, forests, etc.,) and other humans beings around the Planet. Eventually we can even evolve our own lifestyle to whichever fits us, and is in tune with keeping our species on this Planet.

Whatever our story ends up being, if you care enough, like I said a first step could be to learn the story of our stuff. Internet so wonderfully makes this easier, and Annie Leonard and co. make it even easier, simpler and fun. If you have not yet explored it, check www.storyofstuff.org Another example of evolving blue planet action.