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The Zeitgeist Movement April 17, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, People, Sustainable Living.
2 comments

The Zeitgeist Movement (the activist arm of The Venus Project) claims to be a grass-roots effort to change the economic infra-structure of the world from a monetary based system (based on greed) to a resource based system (based on need). 

An introductory pamphlet,  The Zeitgeist Movement ~ Observations and Responses (an 83-page PDF file), strongly contends that science, nature and technology (rather than religion, politics and money) hold the keys to a sustainable future for our planet. 

In clear, concise and flowing discussion, the authors explain many of the problems inherent in our current economic system, then offer an alternative ~ a world “beyond politics, poverty, and war” where everyone benefits from the shared goals of Liberty, Equality, and Abundance.

Admittedly, it’s very Sci-Fi and futuristic . . . but so were planes, televisions, computers, cell phones, and digital cameras a few short years ago. 

In a nutshell, this “brave new world” would require us to:

* Stop using a monetary based economy.

* Promote the advance of technology rather than retarding its growth ~ as auto manufacturers did with the electric car.  [See Ten Movies Worth the Price of AdmissionWho Killed The Electric Car?]

* Build innovative cities, relying on computers to monitor, maintain, and repair all systems and resources.

* Enlist robots and machines to do most of the “heavy lifting,” freeing up our time for more “enlightened” livelihoods. 

For a more complete overview: Huffington Post Reviews Zeitgeist Day 2010  and New York Times Reviews Zeitgeist Day 2009

For an opponent’s claim that the movement is nothing more than a “mind heist” and scam to raise money:  Zeitgeist is a Mind Heist

The Venus Project, if successfully implemented, would offer many benefits over our current economic system.  

My favorite?  That’s easy . . . read my lips:  No more politicians!  

That’s right!  No Republicans.  No Democrats.  No mud-slinging.  No wasteful government spending.  No protracted campaigns fueled by lobbyists.  No costly elections held to appease the masses and give us the sense that we are living in a democracy.  No legislation designed to keep us in line and maintain the status quo for the benefit of big business. 

And . . . no more unfulfilled campaign promises. 

Instead, computers would inventory resources, plan necessary production, organize distribution, and eliminate unnecessary waste . . . without bias, prejudice, greed, or corruption. 

Sign me up! 

While their vision of the future is based on predicted (rather than proven) changes in human behavior once profit motives are eliminated, it makes for an interesting read, especially if you would like to live in a world with:

* Ample time for everyone on the planet to pursue fulfilling livelihoods rather than being “slaves” to dead-end jobs.

* Fast, safe, and hassle-free transportation ~ just hop on a train going 4,000 miles an hour and visit friends around the world . . . with no borders to cross because governments and countries are obsolete.   

* Elegantly designed cities, using clean green power to fuel our homes, our factories, and our farms.

* Houses that dust and vacuüm themselves.

* Cars that require no fossil fuels to run, have zero emissions, and rarely break down.

* No repair bills or insurance premiums because planetary resources are monitored, maintained, and repaired by computers ~ when we want to play golf, we just head to the course, pick up a perfectly fitted set of clubs, and turn them in when we leave.

* Reduced crime rates because resources are shared, needs are being met, and no one is buying stolen goods to make a quick profit.

* No wars orchestrated for profit.  [Ten Movies Worth the Price of AdmissionWhy We Fight]

* No corruption, power, or greed to distort the allocation of resources. 

Rather than rushing to judgment, or listening to my Killer ANTS ( those automatic negative thoughts that insidiously try to keep us from reaching for the stars), I read straight through the document in one sitting ~ keeping  an open mind, suspending disbelief, and imagining the world they describe.

At a minimum, it’s worth considering . . . if you’re looking for ways to get from where we are . . . to where we want to be.

Quote:  We are one ~ one world, one planet, one people, one future.

Related Post:  Eine Kleine Zeitgeist

Other Resources: Zeitgeist: The Movie and Zeitgeist: The Addendum

Free to be Child-Free April 17, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness, People.
13 comments

People who choose to remain child-free often are asked to justify that decision ~ to friends, family, and even perfect strangers.

“You don’t want kids!!!!  What’s wrong with you?”

Nothing is wrong with me.  What’s wrong with you?  Why have you so blithely bought into the notion that, in a world as varied and wonderful as this one,  everyone should have the requisite 2.5 kids?

Frankly, it should be the other way around.

In a world that is already bulging at its seams, adults who choose not to crank out children should be congratulated, not pressured into having offspring just because having kids is a culturally sanctioned activity.

Raising children requires time, energy, money, an even temperament, and common sense ~ sadly, many parents are lacking in one, or all, of these areas.

When my husband and I debated the pros and cons of becoming parents, we decided to remain child-free.

We love children, in small doses, but did not want the daily responsibility of caring for various and sundry rug-rats from birth to age 18, and beyond.

We viewed our personal preference in the matter as the end of the matter.

Others disagreed.

Our parents put pressure on us to have children so they could become grandparents.  I referred them to the Foster Grandparents program.

Our friends tried to convince us that we were making a huge, colossal mistake, arguing that “one day” we would be sorry ~ something like the V-8 commercial, where the actor smacks himself in the forehead, “Man! I should have had a kid!”

Of course, fear of future regret is not a positive reason for having a child.

But my favorite . . . perfect strangers who told us that we were being selfish.

Selfish?  To whom?

It is not selfish to do what you want to do, it is selfish of others to expect you to do what they want you to do.

To be, or not to be, parents is a personal decision, like many other decisions we face in life, which need not be held open for a vote.

Related Posts:  Stop Playing “Follow The Leader” * Life Is Not One-Size-Fits-All * Decisions, Decisions * Generosity of Spirit * Simplify Your Life * But I Might Die Tonight  * Way of the Peaceful Warrior * Live Your Life * Societal Responsibility in a World Teeming with Children (You Monsters Are People)

Mad Hatter’s Almost Eco-Friendly Tea Party April 17, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Mindfulness, Sustainable Living.
17 comments

We hosted a Mad Hatter Tea Party for our street last night.  Everyone had fun, but I feel terrible this morning.

No, it’s not a hang-over ~ at least not one caused by alcohol.  I’m suffering from a case of hypocritical angst.

We chose the Mad Tea Party theme to lessen the party’s impact on Planet Earth ~ appropriate since the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day is just 5 days away.

Instead of rushing out to buy matching tablecloths, napkins, cutlery, paper plates and cups for the event, we used supplies already on hand ~ leftovers from previous parties:

* purple, green, pink, blue, and yellow tablecloths with smaller black and white checked tablecloths placed diagonally in the center of each table

* large red paper heart doilies from Valentine’s Day topped with St. Patrick’s Day centerpieces in shades of Emerald Green on half the tables, and Red, White and Blue centerpieces from the 4th of July on the others

* Mardi Gras beads in brilliant greens and golds tossed down the center of each table added eco-friendly sparkle

* mismatched cutlery paired with mismatched plates and mismatched napkins completed the festive decor of hand-me-down party supplies

The place looked slightly askew ~ exactly as a Mad Tea Party should look.

To get attendees into the spirit of the evening, we prepared name tags for each of the 6 tables with selected characters from Wonderland for guests to portray ~ Mad Hatter, March Hare, Alice, Dormouse, The Queen, Flamingo/Croquet Mallets, King and Jack.

Wanting to play an Earth Friendly Game before dinner, with each of 6 tables competing for prizes, I created 6 Mad Hatter Tea Party worksheets ~ using just two sheets of paper, cut into 3 strips each.

The worksheets had a sketch of the Mad Hatter at the top, followed by a series of blank lines underneath the words:  MAD HATTER TEA PARTY.

Teams had 15 minutes to come up with as many words using those letters as possible.  Like Boggle, the longer the word, the greater the points:

* 3, 4, and 5 letter words = 1 point
* 6 letter words = 2 points
* 7 letter words = 3 points
* 8 letter words, and higher = 5 points

Two teams excelled at the challenge, with scores of 83 and 78.  Everyone seated at those tables received a free 50/50 ticket for the drawing to be held later in the evening.  The other four tables made respectable showings as well and “tied” for third place.

After the game, guests enjoyed bountiful food from the potluck buffet, followed by a few announcements and drawing of a 50/50 winner ~ who walked away with $51.  The remaining $51 stayed in the “kitty” for future parties and social events on the street.

So far, so good, right?

Certainly no reason for me to be filled with hypocritical angst this morning.

Until . . . clean up arrived.

If I had handled clean up myself, I would have gathered the plastic cutlery and run it through the dishwasher.  I would have carefully wiped off the plastic tablecloths, and allowed them to air dry, before folding them up for eventual re-use.

But in the chaos and commotion, with 48 people wanting to help clean up, with people waiting for tables to be cleared so they could be knocked down and carried back to storage, with centerpieces and Mardi Gras beads to collect, which chairs to fold and put away, with people looking to me for guidance, I said:

“Sure.  Go ahead and toss the tablecloths and doilies ~ they’ve been used a few times already.”

As a result of that brief but less-than-earth-friendly utterance, my cheeks this morning are as red as the discarded heart-shaped paper doilies.

I hate this feeling . . . I hate suffering from hypocritical angst!

Unlike curing a hang-over, popping two aspirin is not going to make me feel better.  Only time (and future eco-friendly actions) will ease this angst.

Happy Earth Day 2010! 

Related posts:  Gradual Change * Annie Leonard & The Story of Stuff