Category Archives: Evolution Within| Changing the world starts with me

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.

 

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/

A different world starts within: The magic and blatantly difficult of the obvious and simple

One of Gandhi’s most famous insights, and what is preached by other wise minds, is that to change the world we have to start within: our thoughts and our actions to ourselves and then to the closest around us. Below is the story of part of my journey within, but mostly an introduction and an invitation to everyone to share theirs.

Yes it is cliché, (and I’ll be honest I am not too fond of admitting clichés in my life) going to Asia opened that “spiritual” door for me. I went for the first time when I was 23 looking to go as far away as possible from home. I was looking to explore a world as completely different from mine, also, I just wanted to proof everyone and myself I could go anywhere, but particularly (and perhaps the greatness motivator to endure an awful job for a whole year in order to save for the trip) I wanted to be admired to dare to go so far, alone. My intentions were selfish and in no way included spiritual awakening.

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Rock climbing, diving, and just exploring, became my day to day for the 4 months I was backpacking through South East Asia. Whoever has travelled alone knows, travelling by oneself by no means means being alone. I had different groups of “party” friends in each stop, partnered with about 4 different girls to go on trips or cross borders, and rarely did I ever eat alone. An extrovert by nature, but also, a hermit by heart, by the third month I was tired of having to have friends and having to make them over and over again…as well as bored of my introductory speech –From Ecuador… 23…travelling indefinitely… boyfriend is in San Francisco…no he won’t come… I rock climb…I looooveee Radiohead!- Tired and been so far gave me the courage, for the first time, to not give in to the social pressure of been accompanied, and I followed my need to be alone. I don’t know why, I just wanted solitude, a book…silence.

I went off the beating track, I read a book in 3 days and just slept, walked, read and ate at the only hostel in a town in the middle of nowhere in Laos where it was so cold, I didn’t even take a shower (no hot water available). The solitude of those three days wasn’t itself the awakening, but it allowed me to meet the person within me, it gave way for an inner voice to be acknowledged. Being 23 and growing up catholic, I had had an education that “good” meant giving to others, with the side effect of harshly judging me and the others I was supposed to give to. I left home at 18 to go to a very liberal college in the US; two years after focusing my studies on left Marxist theory political science and Latin American revolution history, I was self-declared “non religious.” To my eyes religion had traumatized me, taught me to be extremely judgeful, was boring, and had not done anything good for “my people.” Spiritual to me equaled religion, and having thrown my “God” and beliefs out of my life, I decided I would figure out how I felt about “all these stuff” sometime in the future.

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Yet, acknowledging that voice during those three cold days unexpectedly made my perception of the world different. After three months between Laos and Thailand, suddenly, I just began to notice the abundant Buddhist messages. Usually in tourist “new agy” stores, these messages were so simple and obvious, and preached different forms of what I understood as the following: Accept and love yourself entirely and all your problems go away, problems are not problems, live in the present, cultivate peace of mind (the key to happiness).

-Of course! I have to accept myself, my mistakes, give a fuck about what others think, of course! Obviously, I have to live in the present, I do that! Wait…do I do that?

None, nothing, in my up to that point 23 years of western upper middle class latin American and US college life, had told me such simple and obvious revelations.

But wait, who was I? At home those around me claimed I was a confident girl. Was I? I was miles away mainly looking for admiration and approval, sooo no, probably not that much. What did I have to accept that I wasn’t accepting? Peace of mind? What’s that?

Yes, I did not know what peace of mind meant.

I did not become Buddhist, I did not even begun to explore these questions any further. I was still, miles away from home looking for admiration and approval from the rest of the world. But a door opened, a seed was planted.

Years after, I have constantly wondered my place in the world. What is my passion and where I can have a real positive impact. Courageously I have dived into different professions, cities, countries, boyfriends and friends, absolutely loving them all and passionately succeeding and many times, making a complete splash. No, no spiritual digging took place, no exploration of those questions planted years back. They were simply denied.

However, the time came when one of those splashes involved so much I had to disconnect again from my side of the world. Sick, ashamed and hurt, once more Asia was my destiny, this time, my scape. The messages, this time in Bali, started resonating. I plunged into self- exploration, self-love, self-acceptance, and the understanding and construction of peace of mind as I urged to get out of the hole I had fallen in.

My intention is not to go into detail of that journey within, at least not in this post, but just to say that the obvious messages, so simple as “love yourself” –and basically “Fuck it” to everything else and just follow your heart- have been so incredibly challenging and difficult. Yet, they are, no doubt about it, the key to what has been the greatest accomplishments and happiness of my life.

Changing the world is possible. There is good out there, and this site aims to show it all to inspire us all. But no positive change is possible if it does not take place with our sincere conviction, which can only stem from our love. Loving our body, loving what we do, loving ourselves, loving our life. Sounds simple, but try doing it sincerely, no exceptions allowed, do you, do you know who you are? My spirituality is this: Change starts within, with ourselves, figuring out who we are, accepting us so we can accept others, so we have peace. Only then can we plant peace and love in others, and that is the key to it all.

I believe change within is the most important step towards evolving into the kind of society we need to keep living on this Planet. We have all been hurt, and to consciously learning to heal (by accepting ourselves) without having to hurt others, we cut the vicious cycle that boycotts our kind. If we can live our lives conscious of the impact our decisions and actions have on others we can begin to act together, act for ourselves and each other. We may have outstanding laws, but if most people don’t comply with them, then the damage done hurts the entire community, the entire Planet. On the contrary, there may be no laws to enforce good behaviour, but if we are conscious enough we can behave in ways that benefit us humans as well as the natural world that allows our life. I am no saint, I am no elevated wise mind, and I am for sure not a person who has achieved peace of mind or whose actions are entirely “evolved.” I am constantly working on this all, the path to a loving peaceful mind is a treacherous one. Yet, I am sure I am on it, and that is enough to create good.

This section *Evolution Within* is dedicated to changes within. Stories, tools, sites, people, and everything that we do around the world to change inside…so that we can be our greatest on the outside.