How to save society

 

hands

A couple of good concepts are mutualism (which suggests one can trade a good/service for another of the kind without the need for unfair capital exchanges e.g. if a doctor wants some food he can exchange that good for the service of fixing a broken arm of the farmer or any other instance where both parties benefit and money doesn’t have to change hands; there is also the idea that the social construct of money leads to being a catalyst for many negative ‘human’ trait manifestations such as the theory that greed and competition as we know them are socially generated and divert humans from their true nature. There’s also useful tenets from Anarcho Capitalism, Libertarianism, negative and positive freedom, Feminsism, Marxism, and Constructivism.

Here’s a couple more ideas for potential policy shifts:

  • A LITURGY: I have had this idea for a while now, honest, but I recently found out (whilst reading the Melian Dialogue, worth a look because even relatively bad, subjectively, theories have some noteworthy points; don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and all) that the Ancient Greeks had this concept run pretty effectively too. It’s essentially a voluntary contribution to tax. As ‘heart-bleed’ Liberal this sounds I would genuinely donate because much of the right wing pessimism is slightly justified by “but where’s the money coming from” for progressive left-wing ideas. This voluntary tax could be admined by a NGO and re-invested in schools, healthcare, extracurricular activities or youth clubs, art funds or preservation areas and any other helpful contribution to society which happens to be costly or is not a priority to the current govenment and so is subject to cuts.
  • Encouraging reading, literature and the role of libraries. Further schemes could involve government subsidies to even mainstream bookstores like Waterstones to encourage working class kids to read more; as a friend once said “reading is like the people of a past generation passing down their wisdom”. Newspapers could be promoted through adverts/promotion on gov.uk and you can also learn a lot through art forms like novels, CDs and films about yourself and the world you live in,
  • Positive role models for all members of society; on an estate it can be easy to loose sight or over-emphasise immoral or unproductive behaviour but if you look up to others who have handled the situation better or others who are perfecting their craft then you can be inspired: this can be in the form of guest speakers coming into schools or carefully vetting celebrities; some of the great inspirations I had the privellege of learning from include George the Poet, local MPs, authors, tech company owners, and several truely motivational teachers and hip hop artists’ interviews like Jay Z, who had a particularly good q & a with Warren Buffet.
  • Manouevre the national curriculum: arguably the most influential body of academia in the nation because it shapes how the next generation view the world. It has come along way and could perhaps respond to calls for more practical skills like tax-paying, job-seeking and other roles of being an adult in a potentially more extensive PSHE subject for one improvement and extra teacher training on motivating, inspiring and emphasising how the skills learnt in the classroom are transferable and can be applied practically.
  • More direct democracy, much much more. And more on issues that directly affect citizens. Representatives represent us not the other way round but one problem is the House of Commons is predominantly white middle class male so one could question just how representative they are or, more significantly, whom they do or do not represent. A way around this would be direct democracy, in the form of referendums, on for instance the Syria airstrike because UK citizens are deployed and employed in the bombing yet UK citizens did not have a say and the MPs have some vested interests in trade, international relations with neighboring states, and UK companies which are involved in the profitable business of bomb manufacturing.
  • Culture: a tricky one but I believe a grassroots shift is worth considering. For now I’ll leave the food for thought at competiton: many people who “make it” try to be stingy/hold onto their wealth cautiously and selfishly/ don’t share help/forget their past/treat others as inferior due to the subtle but notable effect money has on human emotions and power politics. You can be a role model and positive break to the mould because we all ackowledge making money’s hard but that can make you more grateful you found your niche and more encoruaged to bring others with you on your journey
  • Value not price could be conveyed through legislative moves too; a tax for mums is the current vague idea my friends n i decided on to give mums a wage as it were to give them financial independence and show society is not belittling their huge contribution and also that it does not have to always be job n money as priorities: the tax could be paid for a year after maternity leave or if mums choose to look after their children for longer than a Pariliamentary set time period allocated for nurture and care. Moreover, in an ideal world this tax could be paid permanently to mums and even those whom see the value and honour in motherhood as taking up so much of their life that there isn’t room or desire for another full time job. Also, encouragement, subsidies, awareness of, and better supply of nannies could make them more affordable and ease some of the stress for new parents in particular. So that both of the couple can go back to work afterward or otherwise ensure the baby is not a skism in their progress.
  • A slightly regulated, and more proportionate wage market such as having a minimum amount one can earn as a living wage to allow people to live comfortably within their means: to combat the idea a starving man is not free; how can one go about career attainment and societal contribution or self growth and fulfillment when they’re thinking pay check to pay check and are subsisting but the variation of subsistence and family comprimise means somtimes the poorer of society are too hungry to focus on anything but eating – it has regularly been seen through empirical data on the link between nurishment and brain functon; one of the reason why the charity magic breakfast are sick. Check em out here: http://www.magicbreakfast.com. And, in terms of proportionately, regulations could come in the form of enforcing what we as a collective deem fitting for contribution, workload, stress, responsibility, difficulty etc hence potentially capping investment bankers’ pay and taxing bonuses.(that’s where the money’s coming from ;))
  • Charitable and ethical consumer choices; busninesses grow, largely, due to demand for their products. Think about what you spend on, the effect the goods have on you and others, and then rethink them and where you could save/cut back in order to channel into either a more worthwhile good from a business in a different industry or a charity or non-profit being well researched resulting in your donation to proactively tackle poverty or other societal issues. Charities are a key non-governmental actor that can enact and encourage societal change; do your research into which causes are best, have a funding gap, have proven empirical data of their impact, and ones where you feel society is most needing such as cancer research being prominent due to many losing loved ones and cancer now being diagnosed in 1 in 2 people.
  • Shorter, more humane, working hours and conditions: more hours for family/friends/leisure/sport/recreation/work-life balance and better conditions and looking after employees eg provide food/drink refreshment (could be afforded by re-distribution and slight regulation involving managers making slightly less to give more to people further down the corporate ladder), a living wage, slowed or prevented inflation unless wages rise accordingly with it, regulation and protection of the housing market to encourage building affordable houses, getting 1st time buyers onto the property ladder through savings not loans, prevent immoral or opportunistic landlords exploiting consumers.
  • Lower population rates n family planning: less people per household means, even with lower income, there is more resources (spread out between less people; £10 between 2 is £5 but £10 between 4 is just £2.50. So it is recommendable to have less children (1 or 2 which is often the norm in developed societies) would arguable counteract phenomenon troubling modern democracies like overcrowding, peak oil, food crises, and sustainable/longevity of fuels or electricity. Also, less children prevents socio-cultural problems between both siblings and parents: in cases of large households it is arguably difficult for parents to provide adequate time and attention to each child, and children can essentially become ‘parents’ of their younger children so to promote psychological and spatial harmony one or two children are ideal. Two could perhaps be the perfect number because there are numerous studies suggesting having a sibling promotes altruism and only childs can be attention seekers.
  •  Widening of society and norms: people should be less judgmental of people from poorer backgrounds or ‘criminals’ because there appears to be a hypocritical idea that people should ‘start from the bottom/work their way up’ but then have their past held against them and assumptions made that they’re more violent or prone to crime due to the past or where they grew up. Accents reflect the past, not the future. Moreover, one must understand the root cause of crime not just the individual doing it: sometimes socio-economic conditions force one to make ends meet and literally eat (buy food and electricity etc; no choice but to do that) hence there should be more focus on creating jobs, access to them and less stigma or punishment for crimes where people have few options. A cornered man is dangerous. And, in the case of institutions like universities they are ‘used’ to white upper middle class people being the centre of the student body so the culture, nights out, jokes, even security policies can reflect a bias. Get used to the idea that second-genereation immigrants can and will ‘make it’ or be educated.
  • A smoother transition between making it and made it: perhaps schemes funding expenses, not just education costs, so that people from less well off neighborhoods can assimilate into the higher education institutes they earn their way into so they blend in with other students and can enjoy a similar lifestyle because it can be problematic if your in a reputable institute with a light wallet: beer budget in a champagne-drinking 6thform.
  • Training (skills are vital in tertiary sector employment & todays knowledge economy) and second chances for young people/adults): One good scheme of the current government is apprenticeships: many have been cut with prestigious profitable TNCs or national companies and provide young people valuale experience, they learn (& get paid on the job https://www.gov.uk/topic/further-education-skills/apprenticeships find out more here) and then the person has high likelihood of landing the job because a the company know them and b they have practical, not just theoretical, experience.
  • Loans/grants to small businesses (if u see a gap in the market u should be able to go for it right? With banks lending less the government could do more to combat monopolies and encourage funding to spark fruition of an idea) starting small can still lead to employment as the entreupeneur grows the start up, impacts the local community, makes money and more tax and thus can pay back the loan and government, and provides a more unique, hands-on approach to customer service than most multi-nationals provide. Moreover, funding for students should be a priority as they attempt to better their life and learning at any age should be supported because it teaches skills, the virtue of patience, and when chosen cautiously a degree can set the individual up with the foundation for good engagement with both society and a company that considers their employment. This is also a key way in which social mobility occurs. And, I think there can be a subtle knock-on effect – if one person goes to uni they will tell and share their experiences.
  • Feel free to comment/email us more ideas

My current compromise between theoretical utopianism and practical or pragmatic co-existance involves many ideas which could definitely improve society currently, but some may also be prerequisites for changing the entire system of Capitalism and Liberal Democracy. This paradigm shift could draw upon the wealth re-distribution idea from Socialism and Welfare Liberalism (to help mitigate the historical, for instance colonial, injustices regarding wealth and Western/non-Western divides in quality of life. This could be, for example, through, taxation becoming slightly higher to fund infrastructure which allows talented and bright individuals access and means to utilise their potential, such as through quality schools or building more of them to reduce state sectors classroom size, incentives like monetary teacher salary subsidies from government, or private bodies, funding private school bursaries, more internships, more skill focused training to improve and remove the need for extremely low skilled/mundane jobs.)

Another school of thought with healthy additions to a pluralist society is Anarchism. It is commonly misunderstood: anarchy refers to the absence of government yet the controversial idea often receives bad press and media images have cumulatively created the image of riots and violence as automatic connotations for much of the public. In actuality, many anarchists are peaceful and are desiring a new political system. Some of the best points of anarchy summarised involve: a highly cautious and contended view of authority: especially people who currently wield it for instance the government (whom we have no choice but to condone, for instance the moment a baby is born they are logged into state systems by a government name and are essentially forced into choice, as long as it is choice within Liberal Democracy, between different models of Capitalism and Liberalism.) Then there are the police, anarchist theorists have suggested the state sometimes creates/over-emphasises security or other forms of threats in order to prove they do have a need or use: terrorism is a contemporary example where governments and their influence on media sensationalise the fear of external threats and the public are led to believe their government’s monopoly of violence is the only solution to rid us or protect us of these evils. In actuality counter terrorism has regularly had success when non-military action has been taken but that’s a post for another time. There is also the brilliant theoretical contribution of a TAZ which basically involves highlighting human nature is truely good because anarchists suggest light can seep in through the darkness of even oppressive capitalism; an example of a recent TAZ is a person whom paid for everyones’ parking tickets on the whole road: people questioned how and why someone could be so kind with such an expensive thing to such a degree that it made them rethink concepts of money, value, communal living, and kindness or compassion.

Thanks for reading, hope u enjoyed

 

R.C.

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Hip Hop Saved My Life

Hip-hop, what does it mean to you? To me it represents struggle and progress, as well as self expression and rhythm; rhythm which can ease or concentrate suffering. ‘The right music either makes you forget everything, or remember everything’ summarises music’s volatile nature.

Hip-hop largely involves the hustle aspect: inspiration and motivation to smile in the face of adversity. In my opinion, everyone working has a hustle – it’s not just for rappers or black market workers (who work hard enough as it is,  to make the best of a bad situation; law enforcement should really think more about context and what causes, I mean root causes, the ‘criminal’/individual to do crime). Sure hustling can be the fun side (sex, weed, alcohol, travel, and other rewards of what the multi-layered formulae for success/attainment) but it also incorporates a relatively stubborn rebellion: hustlers,for the most part, ignore external constraints/comments/compliments/ego/opinion/media or whatever other ‘noise’ is encouraging people to change for the worse or give up on their dreams. You also should try to avoid settling, my personal checklist for success involves coming as near as possible to my initial goal; not discarding it in favour of an easy option when things get tough. Joey badass said “if it don’t touch my spirit//Then I don’t get near it” therefore one can realise that if your gut says its wrong it probably is.

Do what you like and follow your instinct because you will naturally gravitate to what’s yours and what you like, and the people that don’t see the vision don’t matter or are complacent for their own reasons which need evaluation. Don’t stop people dancin just coz u can’t hear the show: optimists tend to have a relatively cheesy union in that they are aware of the suffering but look on the bright side anyway. People fail, then they can bounce back, learn, adapt, grow n evolve. Hip hop nicely shows this entrepreneurial spirit through the artists & content (increasingly holisitic; for instance the rise in popularity of interviews/behind the scenes aspects of artists’ lifestyles).  One can consider one’s contribution to society, hours worked, discipline, routine and early rises despite difficulty and resistance from your own mind and body (all been there ay), and money earned or responsibility taken on. The hustle highlights that we all have choices, if your cumulative choices happen to have landed you in hot water and employment prospects are knocked by crime or what-not then it’s still respectable: you can be a dustbin man with dignity and support yourself and family because atleast you’re making ends meet in your own way.

The music which can make you remember everything is, obviously subjective, likely to be a tougher more personal time. It can also broaden the genre and explore different themes. For me it just reminds me I’ve come a long way from smoking in the playground and doing other stupid shit. There are a whole array of negative experiences or events/fights/verbal insults/shit teachers n schools/injuries/accidents/break ups/losses of loved ones and friends that music reminds me of, but I prefer not to dwell on them too long. Instead I acknowledge the emotions, but don’t often act on them, let them pass and then crack on with other responsibilities. But I also feel glad, in a weird way, that some of the bs has happened because cliche as it is I’m stronger because of it and I now know to scrutinise the company I keep or role models I look up to/idolise.

It can assure you that you are not the only one experiencing the turmoil you’re going through temporarily; the artist’s gradual progression through emotions and experiences within an album, for instance, can parallel that as humans we cannot feel one emotion forever and that whatever plagues you currently will also pass. This seemingly passive mindframe takes self-control and patience to handle your business (to stop shit getting worse) and maintain (to ensure you’re prepared for when life shifts for the better again). Moreover, it can put things in perspective: sure there are plenty of people doing better than you, well for me there currently are but it of course depends on your inherited socio-economic circumstances, there are also plenty of people doing much worse. So music, and the people pushing it, encourages a ‘keep your chin up’ sorta worldview.

We may look in the same direction but you’ll never see what I see. If you’ve been a lifelong fan of hip-hop it’s likely it’s because you grew up in a neighborhood which prompted you to like hip-hop because of what you’ve seen, where you’ve been, what you didn’t have, the hunger the struggle, and the conditions that seem to be worse due to elitist manifestations of Capitalism. Sure, school & healthcare’s shiter than our more affluent counterparts but 1) you can fight for better opportunities such as educational meritocracy, arguably the most rewarding and insightful route , n’ skill-acquistion can take place in any educational establishment such as training/vocational experience at college/sixthform/work experience or placements/internships/apprenticeships where you learn on the job all are good hustles, respectable positions and a way of bettering yourself not being swallowed by self pity or doubt. Yes it’s a fight but if it was easy everyone would do it, and the road to progress is not without pain: you will be hurt/fucked over many times in this crazy journey that is life but the key is bouncing back, I really emphasise that yes reality can seem tragic but your perception of reality is pivotal: I’d rather acknowledge rain and use it to appreciate the sun more and have the composure to willfully remain optimistic (a choice; like i mentioned before despite the difficulty we all  relentlessly have & make choices) than be pessimistic because of what has been and gone; if you change nothing nothing changes so I guess the world needs more dreamers to imagine new possibilities; imagination is a key word for vision and subjective enforcement of what you want for your better self and the betterment of society in an absolute gain sort of sense (Google it). Whilt one does not need external validation, it is also very understandable, and difficult to empathise with if you have not first-hand experienced it,  2) It shapes who you are and how you think: this, for me, has meant I remember my roots, stay humble, be relatively modest and predominantly deter from ostentatious purchases out of respect for other and to seek to purchase goods with function and value to justify their price (but, we are all socialised to like nice things and sometimes a reward for hard work is a good incentive for productivity so moderation is the point here),stay very vividly aware of the different components and classes in society, seek to give back and share what I’ve learnt with my community and promote education’s key role in enlightenment (if you know better you do better, and have more human capital to enact change within an elitist system),  struggle, hustle, seek and get legislative improvements on access to opportunity, and anyway which can erode class divisions or promote self-improvement and gratitude.

We’re all equal, yet diverse. Diversity can manifest as some maybe having a little more than others (in a sort of anarcho-capitalist society) yet atleast adjust the scarcity/availability of resources, poor consumer choices, greedy/exploitative/immoral TNCs n their conduct, social norms and belief systems can alter to have a fairer sense of competition, and in a healthy way whereby I seek to be better than the me of yesterday not better than my neighbour.

Hip hop helped teach me that if you can’t change something you can change your attitude to it. And, you can re-distribute wealth as the pilot of your own journey: instead of buying costly clothes to show off and pretend to other working-class people that we are not working class we can buy our mothers groceries or help with bills: regardless of class priorites can be re-established and adhered to. There should also be less media stigma or enforcement of irritating stereotypes like working class people being lazy or defective in some other form: streetsmarts account for a lot and there is the possible to nurture education which was not ‘naturally’ (or inherited) there.

To advance on the ramblings of hip hop and place class at the forefront once more: it also works both ways: I have learnt over time that just as my conditions/lack of a ‘silver spoon’ are not up to me, middle class members of society are not to be faulted for their parents traits either (they too should educate themselves and form opinions for themselves, they should not have a falsely conceived image of superiority though and it’s a God-damn shame some socialites treat their dogs better than the working class whom wait and cater for them. Being obnoxious is both unnecessary and misplaced because one should acknowledge everyone’s role in society: just because someone is on a lower wage does not mean they are not just as integral to the collective functioning (of society and humanity). I believe it links back to gratitude really and understanding things at deeper than face value. So take it easy, be inclusive & work toward a future you’d like to see instead of solely complaining about the present conditions. As my mate nicely put it: “it’s up to each one of us individually to cast off the shackles of society to be free” which summarizes, despite a slight tension in my opinion because I do not whole-heartedly think we are merely individuals and my politics involves slightly more communal values and policies at a national/global level, nonetheless that the grass is not always greener on the other side and one can make the best out of whatever situation, progress and learn about others’ views, not have too much of a ‘chip’ on your shoulder due to your socio-economic circustances, and understand everyone’s equality through seeing past social constructs like money or inherited land.

Anyways, back to hip hop. Key figures show that careers are long and painful things but can be a learning curve and can be very fruitful if one is planned and prepared. Take jay-z: he went from peddling to being a very credible businessman with many years in the industry (the HIP HOP one not just the other one lol) on his CV which shows your environment can be a product of you; not just the other way round. & Jay has now paved the way, the blueprint in a new sense – hip hop heads’ll get that one, for young artists to follow in his footsteps; he also owns all his means of production as well as runs his own record label so he can  ensure proportional pay for his artists. Then there’s Kendrick Lamar who has mainstream appeal but doesn’t do it for that nor care about it and continues to say what the f**k he likes. There’s also chief keef who has been rich, poor, then back again but remained himself and still kept his long-term friendships and mannerisms. As Nas said, “Long live your idols, may they never be your rivals”: learn from the past There’s also Mac Miller who highlights you can work hard and play hard and be creative and playful at work too; put your own spin on shit and don’t feel you need to conform to succeed.

Peace,

Here’s a banger to give you insight into the genre, the talent within it, and its complexity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRK7PVJFbS8 & in fact u may as well stream the whole of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ on spotify coz that whole album is gold.

 

R.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What This Means to Me

I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about what this blog means to me. Before the creation of this blog, the co-author and I discussed a lack of interest in the active participation in discussion of pressing issues by our peers. We saw the need to try and increase the participation of young people in meaningful discussion involving problems that we all face. Consider this blog the preliminary step in an outreach campaign to bring more people into the discussion process.

The title “Progressive Man’s Burden” as it stands is a working title. Although for our female readers this title might seem to convey a patriarchal message, allow me to show that the title is simply meant to be a play on ‘The White Man’s Burden’. For those of you who are familiar with the history of this phrase, you’d know that it doesn’t hold much of a positive connotation. As European powers were playing land grab down in Africa, several of these European nations felt that it was their duty to ‘civilize’ the native people and indoctrinate them with European culture. As such, it was the burden of the European white male of the time to carry out this job. To say that this burden was a noble effort is a bit like saying the Spanish Inquisition was just a little chat between the leaders of the Spanish Monarchy and people living in Spain. Sure there might have been some beneficial results of Europeans passing on their ideology to native Africans, but largely it can be shown whenever a group of people is forced into complying with an ideology or adjust in culture, it doesn’t end well. That’s why I’d like to get into what “Progressive Man’s Burden” really means.

I don’t think any of us can argue that society as a whole hasn’t come a long way in advancements that we have made. The hardest part of being a member of this society though is trying to take an objective stance to show what advancements have been harmful and what advancements have been beneficial. I suppose all in all, one of the main purposes of this blog is to be a platform for an objective perspective on such advancements within fields of politics, economics, philosophy and psychology. Nonetheless, I believe it is our job as people of modern society to continue to advance with purpose in a beneficial direction and to correct what still hinders us.

So far this blog has not been very political, but one of the things that we set out to do was to create a place where we could publish our own personal views in order to use that to expedite further political discussion. With this in mind, I’m sure over the next few posts, the blog will begin to be a bit more political in nature. Thanks again for reading and I hope this allows a bit of insight into what this blog is really all about (to me at least).

–N.L.

We’re all afraid of something..

The dark, as a kid, scared the shit out of you right? Gotta be honest with yourself. It did for me. Heights is another common one, but I’m more of an adrenaline seeker so they don’t bother me as much. Some fears are irrational, some are rational, but all fears are human. No one is perfect. My imperfect fears are failure and death (probably pretty common ones lol). Due to my awareness of my fear, I keep an eye on how my thoughts affect my behaviour and emotions. For instance, I try not to do reckless things and then justify it with “oh it doesn’t matter because I’m gonna die anyway”. Moreover, I try not to overdo it on hedonistic behaviour like alcohol consumption when I do succeed; the fear of failure makes success even sweeter for me.

dark_room

One may have to fight a battle many times in order to win it, and for me fearing failure often results in me overworking and nearly burning out. Therefore, I keep my hours at an achievable and humane level and have regular breaks and time factored in for socialising and other non-work related activities. Balance is key. I scrutinize my workload and feel optimistic about my handling of the fear and problems it manifests because, after all, a problem well stated is a problem half solved.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

R.C.

A Cleanse of the Palate: The Human Element

So much of modern life revolves around juggling this chaotic monstrosity that has developed through societal progression. Over the last century, the global environment has drastically shifted in terms of complexity. In using an established observation in Moore’s Law, the capability of technology (specifically in terms of transistors in an integrated circuit) doubles roughly every two years. With such an accelerated level of technological advancement, it’s fairly easy to lose the element of humanity in relation to the modern world. Most of life in the past was devoted to better oneself in relation to the environment around them in order to be better prepared for challenges in life. As a shift in thinking, production has focused on adapting the environment to fit the person, not as much the person to fit the environment. Why shouldn’t this be the case? If the purpose of technology is to serve those that create it, why shouldn’t technology drastically improve the environment that we live in? With these questions, I’d like to look back at the 1980 film, The Gods Must Be Crazy. Although most of the movie tells the story of a man named Xi and his quest to return a mysterious object (a coke bottle) back to the gods after it fell from the sky, the first part of the movie acts as a social commentary comparing the societies of the Kalahari bushmen and developed society in Johannesburg. The narrator shows that due to the incredible simplicity of bushmen society, there is no sense of ownership, conflict between other bushmen does not exist, and the bushmen have adapted to the harsh lifestyle of the Kalahari in respect to such difficulties as lack of available water. On the other hand, those living in Johannesburg have adapted the environment to fit them and as such have caused their children to have to go to school for 10-15 years just to get their heads around how to live in their own society. As well, since society has continued to advance, people within the society must continuously adapt to their surroundings. Although they attempted to make life easier for themselves, they inadvertently made life much more complicated. Obviously it would be illogical to state that the society of the bushman is superior to the society of modern man based on that they avoid many of the problems that come with the territory of advanced society because advancements that modern man has made has clear purposes. One such major area of advancement would be in medical care especially in that the lifespan of a bushman might not be as long as a person living in developed society simply on the grounds that they do not have advanced medical care to handle injuries, disease, and the lot. Vaccines alone have become such a crucial defense for modern people in combatting diseases that can easily be avoided with proper prevention (just like polio) where a bushman would not have vaccines against such diseases.

I’d also like to take a quote from the Dalai Lama on modern life. In a response to what surprises him the most about humanity, he stated, “Man… Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present, the result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies never having really lived.” It’s true that so much of the progress that humans have made so far has been to the advantage of mankind, but sometimes it might be just as beneficial to ask how much is too much? In all of this, it seems like the human element is starting to creep out of society and the focus is being placed on making sure that society as a whole works like clockwork. Sure it is unfair to say that the individual is the most important thing for consideration, but the individual should not be devalued to the point that humanity is a secondary quality to the individual’s performance/contribution to modern society.

This is where I’d like to take a step back and talk about intraspective therapy (in a way). It is always important to have a sense of introspection as it allows you to see the world around you for what it is and to give needed clarity to what’s going on, but I believe it is equally important to have a good sense of intraspection as it will allow you to look inside yourself to see where you truly stand in relation to what’s happening around you. To illustrate how highly I value a sense of intraspection, (I know this is a bit personal, but nonetheless) one of my greatest fears in life is having something wrong with me internally, not in a physiological sense such as a disease, but more of a mental sense and not knowing what it is that’s wrong. Intraspection is crucial in order for one to come to terms with their life. How can one possibly overcome an adversity if they don’t have the ability to look inside themselves to see how they truly feel about something? I know this seems like blowing smoke over intraspection and one might say ‘how could someone not know how they feel on an issue’, but contrary to such a belief, people often suppress their true feelings, confuse themselves, or lie to themselves about what they believe. Sure they might have their own complex reasons as to why a person would not be honest with themselves, but being honest with yourself is of the highest importance. If you can develop a good sense of intraspection, you will be better able to rationalize your position in life and come to terms with the hand you’re playing with. Try and get the most of what you have in front of you and make the most of every opportunity. Remember to keep in mind the importance of who you are, not just what you have done or are able to do. Thanks for reading.

–N.L.

Raised by Roads

As an adolescent I, like I’m sure many others have, had a desire to rebel. The problem with rebelling is that some social constructs are positive for the overall functioning of society, and the individuals within it – this shall be explored further later on. I know now to rebel against the right things, and not to do so at the expense of myself or for some warped conception of self-martyrdom. Back to my teenage years, I was not at home much partly because of rebelling against the idea that I had too large a family and would fight with my siblings, partly against my inherited poverty, and against everyone and everything about the world: I was yet to realise the potential to change what I did not like. And what I did not like was omni-present: I felt I was conscientious and enlightened from a young age; but these usually positive traits came at a high price – I became disillusioned. There was global poverty, capitalist oppression, post-colonialism and euro-centric liberty, and a host of socio-economic poisons afflicting some of my nearest and dearest. I was overwhelmed by the problems and felt few others would understand. I then fought internal battles through external hedonism: my friends and I would smoke, drink, loiter, and talk politics through a lens of misunderstood hatred and apathy.

This is  where I realised some social constructs are alright: for instance “anti-social hours” are not just the manifestation of elites or cultural hegemony attempting to oppress freedom, they exemplify an attempt to mitigate many diverse members of society’s interests and discourage criminal activity or addiction. This is not to say that one should never be out at 4am after partying with friends, but it is to highlight that it should not become a regular habit and one should take care with what activities and what crowd one keeps at said hours. Through my nexus of nights I saw cocaine dealers, fights, shouting, drinking and violence: the people of the night were  fighting demons too but their demons would frequently get the better of them. This can establish dissatisfaction with their realities in the day-to-day afternoon hours, I believe one must be satisfied and strike a balance to both prevent excessive hedonism and ensure functionality and contribution to society. Moreover, there is arguably a large case for societal change and progress or transformative agendas from the rebels, misfits, and nighttime wanderers. Especially for younger people who find themselves bored and turning to vices perhaps too often, there should be youth clubs, parks, and other extracurricular hangouts, hobbies and places to socialise in order to keep people busy and in the right places and hours when they do want to enjoy themselves.

Then there comes the conventional, almost cliche, rebellion: against one’s parents. Despite this age-old conflict, mine manifested slightly negatively and as afore-mentioned I would go out to avoid them. In hindsight, parents have valuable lessons. Now to clarify, I still partially stand by some of my afflicted conclusions: age does not determine wisdom or authority, and personal freedom and autonomy is a priority for one to know oneself and truly exhibit and explore your human nature and creative or eccentric potential. Moreover, authority is precarious, and should be sensitive to its subjects, as well as earned by them through mutual respect and logical reasons for the wielding of said authority, it should also never be abused as coercive or excessive, and has the potential to be slowly eroded once the individual or group are mature enough to think for themselves. This requires sound understanding, and demonstration of efficiency at, handling of responsibility. However, on a logical basis, age (especially in the case of parents) means they are statistically more probable to have experienced life events; these events contribute to a useful world view that one should respect at the very least. Disagreement is natural and permissible, and parents should empathize and relate to, whilst communicating reasonably and understandingly, with their children to highlight the practical application of their ‘lectures/nagging’ (sorry mum, lol). This raises key issues of responsibility. One must take responsibility for one’s actions: this goes for both child and parent: parents in particular should not use their older position to justify wrong doing or dogmatic preaching. Negotiation or compromise is crucial, as in any relationship, to ensure fairness on both sides and the most conducive environment for happiness, learning, mutual benefits and peace. Furthermore parents have been, and continually are, surviving and participating in adult civil society hence they have a wealth and breadth of knowledge on social interactions that can help you with etiquette and act as a foundation for relationships, then your own ideas and freedom can build of of this base. Interestingly, this also highlights some of my thoughts on politics and philosophy which is that people are predominantly nurtured, not pre-existing entities by nature or genetical roulette, and interestingly one’s supposed nature could be questioned too because people for many reasons can spend more or less time with their parents for a host of issues. Not just due to (my case of ) rebellion, but due to boarding schools and other living arrangements there can be a host of external influences shaping and nurturing a person. This therefore places high value and optimism for progress in international institutions, media and role models, and education. But that’s a debate for another time.

The takehomes from this blog piece are: love and respect your parents, tolerate and question social norms where appropriate, be civil and don’t rebel irrationally, once you acknowledge a problem do not be defeated by it instead incorporate a paradigm shift of “ok I know what’s wrong with the world I shall now be proactive, productive, patient and optimistic to seek the change that will benefit society and humanity”. This too shall be discussed another time 😉

Thanks for reading 🙂

..R.C

Are You Experienced?

As a quick introduction, I’d like to say thanks for coming here to spend a few minutes of your time listening to the ramblings of some university students. Hopefully as time goes on, this will be an interactive process where people who come by here will be able to openly engage with both the authors and others who stopped by. About me quickly, I’m an American student studying at the University of St. Andrews. Psychology is my main area of study and I hope to use my education to improve the well-being of the world around me (definitely sounds like something a beauty pageant contestant would say). My goal through this blog as well as with help from other authors and contributors is to increase the interest of people (especially young people) in getting involved in the open discussion of global affairs. As well, I hope to develop a clearer understanding of the nature of the political theater with aspirations of forming my own political views by digesting the world that we live in. Thanks again for your time, and feel free to send feedback to progressivemansburden@gmail.com.
When it comes to discussing the ins and outs of applied theoretics to modern life and the world in which we live, those that haven’t endured painstaking work in order to become experts in a field are often ostracized from a conversation concerning a specific area of study. “Leave it to the professionals,” or, “Why don’t you focus on something in your area of expertise,” are often thrown around to denote that someone does not contain the necessary qualifications to contribute to a discussion. Sure leading minds in their respective fields deserve due credit based on both their contributions and dedication to the field, yet to suggest that discussion of certain facets of the field are reserved solely for the top members within seems to limit one’s ability to explore and criticize the aspects of an area of study. Although it seems unfair to suggest that any Tom, Dick, or Harry could stand in front of a theater and give a lecture on quantum physics while only knowing how to instruct on the grammar of the English language, one should have the ability to discuss the practical application of such a topic in relation to the world as a whole. Simply because a person is not an economist should not mean that they could not devise a possible economic system based on simplistic principles if such a system were to contain feasible ideas. It could then be supposed that the job of verifying the economic system would then fall into the hands of the economist, but the ability to speculate the possibility of and propose a shift in the way we perceive an issue should belong to the common person.
If I may, I’d like to quote something that my grandfather told me. He said, “College used to be about standing up and screaming and yelling at each other about your beliefs and questioning the world around you.” Despite the obvious hyperbole of students standing up in lecture halls screaming and yelling at one another, I thought he raised a good point about higher education. It seems nowadays that the educational system is molded to conform to a rigid structure in order to groom students for a certain career path. Though this contains several crucial benefits for preparing students to enter the job market in their field of study, it seems like the bigger picture of the world around us is scrapped and put to the side. Along with this, another thing my grandfather said to me was, “Education is not the most important thing about going to university. The education that you get there, you can find on the internet if you take the time and put the effort in to find the information. What is important is going to university, having a good time, and learning what life is really all about.” As you could imagine, this advice is somewhat hard to take to heart because I could not imagine rationalizing to my parents a possible reason for failing out of university would be because my grandfather had told me to not focus as hard on my studies. What I mainly pulled from this advice as I’m sure he was alluding to was to absorb what education I can while I’m here at university while also taking the time to broaden my perspective to the world around me. In the time that I’ve been here at university already, that philosophy has influenced my approach to studies tremendously. I cannot count how many times I’ve discussed the affairs of the world or certain critiques of different aspects of the world with my friends. As well, it’s also fairly cathartic to sit down with a friend and hash out some viewpoints that you have.
This brings me back to the main topic of this post, the ability to openly discuss issues plaguing the world we live in. It might be easy for some university students to stand up on their soapbox and declare that they have simple solutions to problems that have been affecting the world for generations and that if a university student can see the simple solution, why can’t an elected representative see that same solution. An economist would say, ‘who is some random university student to suggest a solution to a problem when they have no knowledge of how the economic system works?’ If one of the benefits of higher education is supposed to be the opportunity for students to question how things in this world work and to try and come up with some rational solution to these problems, is it not fair to allow such students to do such rationalizing? In an effort to allow the most amount of people to participate in the process of societal progression, it seems that one of the most crucial steps should be to incorporate as many people as possible in discussions about important issues that affect us all.

–N.L.

Quotes & hopes,

This is a new blog, so to get the ball rolling here are some quotes. They summarize the authors’ political views. A quick bit about the authors: my friend and I are university students at St Andrews and are very interested, albeit regularly disheartened, with politics. I champion meritocracy, access to opportunity, welfare and redistribution of wealth, pacifism, and eroding inequalities or prejudices.

Here’s my selection of inspirational quotes :):

  • “I like the sun, but respect the rain”
  • “Life is imperfect. Perfection is unattainable yet desirable.”
  • “You don’t have to take an interest in politics, for politics to take an interest in you”
  • “Hate the sin, love the sinner”
  • “A problem well stated is a problem half solved”
  • “You may have to fight a battle many times in order to win it”
  • “If you feel like it’s dark around you, it could be because you are the light”
  • You can’t make the weak strong by making the strong weak””
  • “Without struggle, there is no progress”
  • “The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working”
  • “At the end of the game, the pawn and king go back into the same box”
  • “Energy flows where attention goes”
  • “Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”
  • “We all have scars”
  • “I am an optimist by choice, a pessimist by intellect”
  • “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”
  • “If you can look up you can get up”
  • “Whether you think you’re wrong, or you think you’re right, you are correct”
  • “Nothing worth having comes easy”
    “If there is always light, you do not experience light anymore”
  • “The longer the battle the sweeter the victory”
  • “It’s not about where you come from, it’s about where you are going”
  • “Bad news: time flies. Good news: you’re the pilot”
  • “Fear fear”
  • “Compassion over capital”
  • “I like when money makes a difference but don’t make you  different”
  • “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

– ..R.C