So… a day or three ago… I was sitting in a coffee shop… and a question popped into my mind. I immediately wrote it down… and pondered for a while.
Here’s what I wrote:
I think… one of the reasons why that question popped into my mind (in the first place) was because I’ve been thinking a lot about revolutions lately. Here (in South Africa)… there’s much talk (not to mention hissy-fitting) going on about Tim Noakes’ Food Revolution (for those who don’t know, he advocates high fat, low carb and low sugar. He also is very vocal about eating ‘real’ food… fresh veggies… grass-fed, hormone free meat… etc).
I do think the world needs a food revolution… and a mass move away from the gunk served up by giant, greedy corporations (both near and far)… and I think that anyone who advocates that folk just stop and… think… before they buy (and before they eat) gets a gold star in my book.
Another reason why I’ve been pondering revolutions is because I’ve been thinking a lot about Russell Brand’s new book… titled “Revolution” (which I have loved reading – and which I strongly recommend for those who are DONE with the Done Thing). Russell has a lot to say about revolution (when it comes to political and social stuff)…. and I resonate… a lot… with what he has to say. Nick and I are both fans of The Trews.
I also recently watched a doccie on the French Revolution (partly because I’m genuinely interested in history… and partly because we’re planning on a European Road Trip)…
The French Revolution… with all that horrendous head-lopping… was blood-thirsty and horrific. But it changed things. Drastically. And I’ve been thinking a lot about change… and what it takes to change Systems and The Status Quo (in a peaceful, constructive way – of course).
So all these revolution thoughts got me thinking about what I would love to see… completely changed.
What… I asked myself… was the one thing that I was so passionate about, that I’d be prepared to launch some kind of wild revolution to see it changed…. (?)
What offends me… about the world at large… on such a deep level – that I would fantasise about a “_______” revolution.
An obvious answer might be a “love revolution”… or a “peace revolution” (and I’d be the first to raise my hand in favour of those)…. but what causes people NOT to love, in the first place?
What causes folk NOT to pursue peace in the first place?
Assumptions? Fear? Propaganda that we’ve been trained to believe that war is the only solution… and/or that our leaders have our best interests at heart? An idea that we’ve latched on to that we (us / our country / our religion) are right and “they” (them / that country / those who follow that religion) are wrong?
A lazy, brain-dead dualistic way of viewing the world?
So… after much thought and pondering….
I propose that the world needs a MINDSET REVOLUTION!!!
I think we all need to THINK before we do. I propose that we all make a very real effort to stop being mindless sheeple – and to THINK… and QUESTION… and THINK some more.
- To *think* before we vote… (not just automatically vote for the party we voted for last year because… well, at-least-they’re-better-than-the-other-guys… or to vote for a party because our parents or our pastors support that party…)
- To *think* before we marinate our children in pharmaceutical drugs so-they-can-focus-in-school… (are our children at fault?… or are they just understandably – and justifiably – bored!? Perhaps it’s school that needs fixing… not kids.)
- To *think* before we buy the expensive, branded clothing (Why are we paying multi-national corporations to advertise their brand on our bodies?)
- To *think* before we wander through the supermarket, randomly tossing popular brands into our trolley… (Why are we buying these brands? Do we buy them out of habit? Do we buy them because our mothers used to buy them? Are they ethical in the way they treat their staff and the environment? Etc… etc…etc…)
- To *think* before we eat something… (What are we eating? Why are we eating that particular item or brand? Do we even know what’s inside the stuff we eat? Are we okay with stuffing our bodies with unidentifiable chemicals and foreign substances?)
- To *think* before we sign on the dotted line…
- To *think* about classism and/or what separates us from “The Other”… (to put ourselves in the shoes of others… to wonder what life must be like for those who are different to us)
- To *think* before we buy more crap (Why am I buying this thing? Do I really need it? Is it really necessary? Why am I buying this particular item… or this particular brand?)
- To *think* before we sink ourselves into more debt – and sign our lives away to banks.
- To *think* about banks, multi-national corporations and governments – in general – and to ask some unpleasant, uncomfortable questions about the role they have in the current state of our world – and our role in doing something about it…
- To *think* before we sign up for that ubiquitos “B Comm” degree at University.
- To *think* before we rush eagerly down the aisle.
- To *think* before we sign up for “The American Dream”.
- To *think* before we make ignorant, blanket statements about people whose shoes we have never walked in.
- To *think* before we apply for the job that we know we’re going to hate.
- To *think* before we blindly accept the idea that “authority” is automatically aligned with “Truth” (whether parents, teachers, pastors, politicians… whatever).
- To *think* before supporting the policies (and/or wars) of The-Powers-That-Be.
- To *think* before blinding agreeing with our favourite celebrity / author / preacher / politician.
- To *think* about what Reality TV and advertisements are telling us and selling us.
- To *think* about what “beauty” means… and why so many corporations are making billions on our obsession with our external appearance.
- To *think* before enrolling our kids in pre-school.
- To *think* about what “nationalism” means. (Does it mean “us” at the expense of everyone else? Are our flags, anthems and borders more important than everyone else in the world? Where are the lines drawn?)
- To *think* about what “freedom” means… and whether ANY of us are truly free.
- To *think* about where we stand on issues of capitalism, socialism, anarchy – and everything in between (Do we even know our stance on these things? Do we even understand the options or the possibilities?)
- To *think* before we read something on the internet and decide it’s factual and share it with all our friends….
- To *think* before wholeheartedly agreeing with whatever we’re watching on our favourite news channel.
- To *think* about what big corporations and their advertising agencies are endlessly trying to tell us… and sell us.
- To *think* about what it must be like to be very poor… or very rich.
- To *think* before forwarding the chain letter that promises us blessings / money from Bill Gates / free iPads (or curses, bad luck, guilt-tripping, etc)
- To *think* about belief systems and religions and cultures that are different to our own.
- To *think* about what it must be like to live in Syria… or how it must feel to have a family wiped out by Ebola… or how it must feel to be persecuted, prosecuted and murdered for being who you are (homosexuals in Uganda being a case in point).
- To *think* about… and question our religious beliefs and sacred books.
(Of course… I can go on and on….)
But the point is… I don’t think people THINK enough…. don’t PONDER enough… and don’t QUESTION enough (and I count myself as one of the guiltiest culprits).
“Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece” – (Ralph Charell)
Here’s an interesting quote to ponder on:
“Every society has notions of what one should believe, how one should behave and how one should look. These social conventions are formulated in legal codes and religious doctrines, but also in a vast body of social judgements which we take for granted… which indicates what we wear, who we respect, how we live our lives and how we look. We refrain from questioning the status quo because we associate what is popular with what is right” – Alain de Botton –
I cannot even begin to tell you how often I have failed to question the status quo… because I have associated what is popular with what is right.
I spent a massive portion of my life… plodding along… getting by… making do… surviving… fitting in… being the same as everyone else – and NEVER questioning why I lived why I lived… or why I did what I did… or why I lived in a town I hated… or why I fell in line with the beliefs of my particular religious group… or why I got married at the age of 19 to a man that was clearly wrong for me… or why it was so important for me to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount or dress a certain way…. (of course, I could go on and on and on…)
I didn’t THINK… or QUESTION… or PONDER… or wrestle with my beliefs… or question my religion… or grapple with the Big Fat Why’s… or examine my Way-of-Living.
I never asked myself the Hard Questions. I just ignored them, buried them… smothered them under a pungent compost heap of unthinking assumptions… and called it “Faith”.
I just acted like a bloody mindless robot… all obedient and compliant-like. A little puppet with a painted smiley-face… dangling on a string.
Or like someone adrift on a raft… in a giant ocean. I could have raised some sails and charted a course… but I never did. I just… drifted. And allowed Life to take me where it chose.
And I was dumped unceremoniously on many shores that I had never planned on visiting. Shitty jobs. Debt. Meaningless pursuits. Draining, life-sucking relationships. Endless people-pleasing. Expensive homes in the suburbs. And I’d just shrug… and sigh… and “get by”… and “make do”… and “carry on”…
Everything gets questioned now.
I’m not doing things because “everyone-else-does-it-that-way”… that is simply NOT a good enough reason. I will do things because they make sense to me and to the well-being of my family and the world I share with countless others. I will do things… and choose things… and pursue things… because they have survived my initial interrogation and they make sense to me. Because they resonate with me. Because I’ve wrestled with the questions and have chosen a path that is true to who I am.
I will make up my own mind, thank-you very much. I don’t need other people making up my mind on my behalf. Been there, done that. I’ve already lived too much of my life having ceded my decision-making to the Status Quo and the Mindless Drift. Like a subservient, spineless little Servant of the System.
I will live deliberately now.
I will ask the hard questions and forge a path (no matter how overgrown) that takes me in the direction I choose to go. And if those choices take me down overgrown footpaths with weeds, thorns and thistles – then so be it. At least I’ll be alive… instead of choking on the smog and congestion of the bland, grey, overcrowded highways of “The Norm”.
And I know I’m not alone. We’re not alone.
There are many path-forgers out there too. Pioneers. Machete-weilding Questioners and Truth-Seekers… hacking slowly, painstakingly… through the thorns and the thistles… deliberately rejecting the endless bullshit that the Status Quo dishes up on branded platters and tries to force down their unwilling throats. There’s a tribe of rebels out there… slowly connecting… and finding one another. And every time we do… we’re flooded with a sense of relief: “I’m not alone on this journey” – “There are others who think – and feel – like me”.
- “just have faith” or;
- “just believe” or;
- “just swallow this magical elixir and everything will be fine”… or;
- “just fit in with everyone else”
- “just eat less and exercise more”
- “just accept the situation”
- “just forget about it”
- “just pray more”
- “just buy this!”
- “Just trust God”
- “Here! Watch this Reality TV episode on your flatscreen TV whilst quaffing McDonalds and don’t *think* about what’s happening on the other side of the fence. It’s irrelevant. Just zone out in your comfortable place… buy lots of crap from the mall… pay your taxes… obey the rules… and don’t fuck with the Way-Things-Are. It’s soooo much easier that way, we promise”.
For the sake of my own conscience (and sanity)… I just… can’t… keep quiet any more. And I can’t do nothing any more.
“There is no difference between the pessimist who says; ‘Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything’, and an optimist who says; ‘Don’t bother doing anything, it will turn out fine anyway’. Either way, nothing happens” – (Yvon Chouinard)
A little end-note: Long-time readers of this blog (who read the post “An Illustrated Guide to my Personalities”) may notice that I’m slowly starting to channel more and more and more of Ranty (with some Fairy Do-Gooder to balance Ranty out). The scaredy-cat, impuissant Word-Wuss is diminishing. And I’m glad.