Why do we pledge? The politicians promise a future to the people, and that is not only politicians in a democracy, but also politicians in any kind of ideological system. With that promise, a politician gains popular support, and hence power. The corporations and governments pledge for future action, of what they will do to ensure the safety and security of people and the earth. This has become so common in the field of climate change. But this habit of pledging isn't limited to only the so-called “macro” worlds of politics and policy, but takes place also in the private and personal worlds, such as our friendships and familial relationships. We promise each other so many things. It could be the promise of marriage, of staying together forevermore. It could be the promise of doing something in return, so as to get something from each other now. We might have all been through this habit of pledging, and I think it is quite important to ask ourselves, why do we pledge? Because, by pledging, by promising to do something in the future, we have definitely delayed our action to the future, so that we don't have to do anything now. So it seems, pledging serves one important purpose: preventing immediate action.
The world is dominated by a theory of perpetual economic growth. World economies are measured by its growth in GDP, among other metrics, to determine whether the economy is healthy or functioning. We might ask, what does it mean to be healthy? Does perpetual growth mean health, or does it mean excess, like a tumor? What is really driving our desire for perpetual growth in our economy, and what exactly is growing?
These questions are quite important if we consider them in the context of our lives, and the many crises we face as humanity: war, hunger, human-caused climate and natural disasters. These are real dangers that face human beings in the world, and what is their relationship to growth? Obviously, if we observe our life, things grow, and then they wither. Like any living organisms or inorganic forms, they exist, flourish, multiply, decrease, and die. This is something no one and nothing can escape, but is the idea of perpetual economic growth trying to escape that fact?
I think it is quite clear that we are destroying everything we touch. The air polluted. The rivers and underground waters poisoned by pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The earth dug empty. The trees cut down in droves. Animals hunted for our taste. The mountains become bare, burned by wildfire or grazed by our own machines. The plastic particles entering the ocean, and into the beers we drink. And all this action, tremendous, large-scale, destructive action is for our material gain. There seems to be a common understanding, that somehow happiness can be gained in materials, in a plate of delicious salmon, or in a Christmas tree made out of plastics or real wood from a rainforest somewhere. We like gifts. We like money. We like food that tastes strange or exciting or exotic. So we burn large amounts of fuel and human energy to deliver these things all around the world. It could be a toy, a book, a piece of silverware, or a gigantic yacht. But, in the end, are we happy? Or is that happiness so ephemeral that we are left wanting ever more?
Relationship is necessary in life. We are all related, to the deliveryman, the cook, the workers who produce our commodities. We are related to our family, lovers, misters and mistresses, friends, strangers, and the celebrities we see on screen. We are related through comments and likes, through online meetings, live streamings. In our relationship, we transact, exchange, take and give. And this seems to be the only kind of relationship we have: give and take. Everything seems to be an exchange of money, properties, ideas, support, psychological comfort. We can exchange anything. We can exchange digital coins and assets, spiritual comfort by forming a community, or pleasure by having sex. This form of relationship goes right through our life, and we rarely question, whether this is the only possibility for a relationship.
There rumored to be a village, where people lived with innocence. There was not a single conflict. No hatred could be discerned. No fights ever broke out. The people in the village lived harmoniously, without friction. The visitors described it as a dance of life, and the joy of living in that village attracted ever more visitors. Yet no visitors up to this point were allowed to stay. And a man heard of this village, and he was determined to bring corruption into the villagers' hearts.
Do we measure whose life is more worth living? Do we decide whose life is more expendable?
There seems to be always an uneven reportage of world events. While some wars get tremendously detailed and live coverage, others only make a corner of certain news outlets. Of course, any reportage is uneven by design, because one must choose what to report. This process is necessarily selective, therefore it is rife with prejudice and inequality. So, there arises the need to do more equal reporting, which is of course impossible. As long as we put a measure on human life, there will always be preference as to whose war is more worthy of attention. The current war in Ukrain is more worthy of attention, while there are other wars going on, and other lives lost. One such war is the conflict in northern Ethiopia.
We might not be aware or willing to admit how fragile our civilization has become. It seems that with the smallest ember a big fire can break out. With our current so-called development, we are on a collision course on mutual destruction. It seems very important, at least to me, to understand what we mean exactly by development, and whether that means prosperity or perpetual war.
Many crises have broken out in this century. The climate, the non-stop wars and humanitarian crises, the general breakdown of human psychological health, and the pandemics. Although we as human beings might worship order, we have created chaos in the world. It might seem that the many crises are separate, individual cases, but if we could see where they form at the root, we might understand that they are not different, but similar.
Reality is not real nor unreal. Thought gives reality a sense of space and time, therefore reality becomes rather real. Thought is the reaction towards the perception. When there is the perception of a cup, for example, a name is given to the cup, or its history and associated memories appears as a reaction to the cup, all of which arises as a process of thinking, and therefore the cup obtains a sense of reality in time and space. Thought is the substance of this reality. It is true that when thought is not present, there isn't such reality of the cup. There is only what is. It could be said that thought gives any reality a sense of continuity. This continuity then appears to be really happening. This continuity is synonymous to time and space. The cup, then, seems to really occupy a specific amount of space and extend over a period of time. Whereas, these apparent reality of space and time are constructions of thinking. When thinking is absent, such as in deep sleep, there isn't space nor time. Thought is the substance, is what makes reality to have length, depth, and importance. Whereas the substance, which is thought, has no length, depth, or importance. This is why the substance of reality is only apparent, i.e. illusory. Nothing has substance. To have substance means to occupy space or time in any real sense. When space and time are only constructions of thinking, any substance can only be said to be superficial, because thinking is superficial and transient.
The story is one of the most powerful forms of persuasion. From the very ancient times, parables existed to persuade human beings to obey certain principles. Now, in our technologically advanced civilizations, and waging technologically advanced warfare, not only physically, but also psychologically and culturally, we are still using stories to persuade, to justify, to rationalize our violence. Of course, there is always the better stories, the more truthful narratives. Yet, it is the claim here that no narratives can be truthful. Narratives are inherently a selective process, a representation, and nothing can be further from the truth. In times of crises, we tell ourselves stories, may be immersed in their glory and proclaimed virtue, but we are so frequently unaware of how stories are always written for a purpose. When we believe in any story, we inevitably perpetuate conflict among human beings. There are no better or worse stories. There are only stories, and stories have no relationship to truth.