Thursday, February 18, 2010

We are all living in a dream

-What is reality and what is really relevant?

Seemingly not so much happens where we live.We may live together with many others in a house or apartment house. Outside the windows, we see the carpark. People go to work, come home, watching TV. It is a quiet area to live in.

In reality, far from the quiet area- industries, pollution, hard working children. But we all have our problems and why worry about major problems, like environmental problems? We can't do anything about them, anyway?

When it comes to change both in an ecosystem or a society, it is common to talk about top-down and bottom-up . Top-down is when higher positions affect those who are in the system, like in an ecosystem, this suggests that predators keep populations down to levels they are at. In a bottom-up society, it is instead the bottom that could affect, for example how much plants are available in turn affect the amount of grazing animals that may exist and, in turn, how many predators and top predators it can be. In the human society, many blames the politicians when something is wrong, they are the ones who must change society if something should happen, a top-down perspective, while many environmental groups believe that we as individuals must take a stand and make the active choice to change what politicians (or business) will decide (or sell).

In our communities, we live in a dream on several levels, individual, interaction level and politically. We live here and now, but very common is to have a hope of something else, "if we only ..". A large part of the dream is also ignorance, an ignorance that is hidden to those who are not looking up facts. Or maybe happen to hear about it in the newspaper or in their social circle. I think maybe most of our primary needs: food, clothing, stuff, freetime and transportation.

The dream of the perfect life, from an environmental perspective, from an ideology, from a prior image. We want to follow recipes, lifestyle, fashion, exercise program. Perhaps also a sense of how it works which might not be true.

This is easy to see in the dream about the foods that we find in the store, where can we imagined ourselves to a perfect dinner- but where does the food come from? The dream or ignorance makes it easy for us in the shop, "I want fish, and I want potatoes, some vegetables and sauce". In our minds, we think small fishing boats and a small farmer who harvests small potatoes. But the reality is far from it. From company to company the food goes and are sometimes transported around the globe to get to our table. Meat and fish have become large-scale industry. And we have not a clue what's going on, and what if we found out? It is up to individuals to try to opt out of it? And what are the consequences if some or many choose something else, once in a while or always? We all live in a dream, in which products are available but we have no idea where they come from. And if we had, how should we choose? And if we choose, what are the consequences?

To make it simple, we close our eyes, and continues to live in our dream worlds. Where it is safe and where we do not need to do more choices than what the deal is already giving us, in the jungle about what to have for dinner.

Who will wake us up? And how would this awakening be arranged? Is it up to individuals, groups, and then decision-making bodies to make this change?

Do we have the energy to make it happen? How do we do otherwise? Why destroy the dream? And if we wake up from the dream, are we then in a nightmare?

One way is with a bottom-up perspective to join together in groups and have the support or motivation from others. Here you can discuss and have plans. But if the plans do not match with the reality? Then you are more people who make mistakes and have dreams in the wrong direction.

But in a top-down perspective, when politicians would decide everything, from what do eat to what to wear, everyone would feel over driven and controlled. It would be a communist regime.

What to do? Dreams leads us, dreams keep us going..

What is the ideal society, anyway?

"The British people can win full employment while remaining free. But they have to win it, not wait for it. Full employment, like social security, must be won by a democracy, it cannot be forced on a democracy or given to a democracy."
About employment but also about wills, health and all other needs for a good society. William Breveridge, 1944


  1. I don't agree really here. What brings a society is the expert role. In the old days everyone could support themselves things were simple, then as more and more we got specialized in our own areas of interest. It's to much work required for one person to have to keep track of all the things around us in our society today.

    There should be an institute like Konsumentverket or Livsmedelsverket (I'm just pulling two names out of the air here) that checks and verifies the food and where it comes from and how it was made. We do have some labeling of food already but it needs to be very clear what all these labeling stands for. Those organizations are experts on that and we (consumers) should be able to make a the decision on the fly since they should have made all the hard background work for us.

  2. In a perfect soceity, there is no need for labeling.

  3. Jimmy,
    thank you for your long and interesting comment. I want to comment back without sounding defending but very clear. First of all, this text as many other in the blog, is a discussion text and doesn't have any conclusion. Second, "what brings the society to the expert role"- the society is the people, the institutions, the roles- so if not the society is- who are? Third, that institute that you want to check food and processes; would they work with labeling (so we can decide) or should they pick out food for us (decide for us). In either way, it is a bottom-up or top-down perspective. What I try to do is to go one step further when I mean that the steps between people should be smaller. You should know who the producer is, you should know your surrounding and what you are depending on! Today; the dream world. It should be close to you in one or another way. It doesn't have to be so much more complicated.

    When we are out of oil for all transports, high production and consumption, when we can't produce more food, because the arable land is decreasing from erosion and soils out of nutrients or when the plastic island in the ocean is so big so we can see it from the land, maybe it will be fist then we understand that we have to go another way to find the right style of living.

    In the meanwhile I will continue with this blog and try to find better solutions and solution processes. I will listen and understand what is going on around the globe. And I want to tell everyone that if we use our ability to communicate (in it's right meaning, a two-way direction), we can create a better world.


MIRAGE: A Short Film about Arcosanti

Mirage from Edan Cohen on Vimeo .