Should We Fight For The Planet, Or Fight For Ourselves?

There is something off about this sentence, isn’t there? Somehow, it doesn’t sound right. To many, the answer is so obvious that this question doesn’t even make sense. But to most of us, reality isn’t quite so clear.

I was watching an inspirational video a few days ago (*) when I realised something which was probably already settled in my subconscious, but that I had never deeply reflected on. The narrator of the video was warning people of the dangerous course we are taking by treating our Planet so carelessly and mindlessly. At a certain point, he said that people are so busy fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, terrorists… and not caring about Global Warming… that, one day soon, we shall all be “equally extinct”. No social or cultural differences will matter then, because we will have run out of time. His words led me to the following question: which is more pressing – saving the Planet, or fighting for equality?

A wise person would say that both these quests are urgent and crucial. In fact, we cannot live in a polluted, damaged world, just like we cannot live in a world without equality of rights. But that is just it, isn’t it? Because if we do not tend to the needs of Planet Earth, we will not be alive to fight for equal rights any more.

I am not saying that we should all suddenly stop caring about humanitarian issues and divert our attention and efforts towards saving the Planet. But while we are so busy addressing issues that may be taken care of in a longer span of time, we are watching Earth wither and slowly – or not so slowly – die. Do not take me wrong. The downfall of Man may not be the ending of all life on this Planet. Nature always finds a way. But it will most certainly be the end of us, the end of Humankind… and the sad ending of all those we are taking with us.

More than 10.000 species of animals go extinct every year because of Man’s thoughtless actions. These are innocent victims of a so-called civilization that madly confuses “progress” and “evolution” with the development of increasingly precarious and destructive ways of life. Consumerism has been on a relentless rise since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but the more we build, the more we want, and the more we want, the more we exhaust and consume our home. Our only home.

Some people still believe that climate change does not necessarily mean our extinction. They believe that Mankind will find another planet to run to when it becomes too late to save our own Planet. But why should we want to waste all life on Earth, when we have such a beautiful, natural world to live in? A world that offers us some of the most wonderful natural spectacles we have ever seen, some of the most amazing landscapes and living creatures we have ever imagined.

Most people don’t seem to understand that fighting for the Planet IS fighting for ourselves, and fighting for ourselves MUST BE fighting for the Planet. Time is running out. We are being warned time and again, but the message doesn’t seem to reach the minds of all. Most people’s lives show that they do not truly care about the course we are taking, about the fate we are bounding ourselves to.

Something else the narrator of the video said that touched me deeply was a reference to Native Americans, who tended to the needs of their homes, of their soil, of their waters, of their woods, of their animals and plants, so as to preserve the Planet for the following 7 generations. But at the rate we, the so-called civilized, are destroying Planet Earth, we will not be leaving a healthy world not even to our next generation. What does that make of us? What does it make of us other than greedy, ignorant and cruelly indifferent beings who are willing to sacrifice every other species on Earth, and the future of our own species, for fleeting luxuries and gratification?

A part of me believes that we are beyond salvation. Human alienation is so serious at this point, such a rotting epidemic, that we will not save our Planet in time of saving ourselves – including every species that has not done anything to deserve this outcome. In those sad and despairing moments, I think that we are going to destroy our Planet because of our endless greed, our endless pride, our endless belief that we can pretend to be God and play with the fates of all lives on Earth.

But then, a small voice inside me tells me that there is still time. A small, hopeful voice starts speaking louder, inciting me to believe that there is still a chance. We can still wake up on time to stop this definite destruction. We can still change enough to preserve our world for a little longer. We can still learn to take care of our Earth and all living beings on it. But we cannot carry on the way we are going now. The answer to the question above is that simple. We should fight for the Planet, because fighting for the Planet is fighting for ourselves. Both are one.

 

* Prince EA’s video “Dear Future Generations, Sorry”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRLJscAlk1M

 

 

 

 

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Europe’s (Un)welcome Guests

They are coming by the hundreds. More than 8.500 migrants were pulled off the Mediterranean Sea in one week alone on April 2015. More than 1.750 people have drowned in the same waters trying to reach European shores from January to April 2015. This is 30 times the number of migrants who died in the Mediterranean during the same time period in 2014, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Greatly overcrowded, the vessels carrying frightened, desperate families easily capsize and sink.

Italy does not have the power to save thousands of lives. And as an international crisis grows in Italian waters, one question arises: what to do with the lives of those who are saved?

Basic rules of courtesy state that you must make your guests feel welcome. But can Europe welcome all these migrants, when they are coming in such great numbers? A growing number of people believe that the solution for the impressively high immigration rates in recent times is firmly closing the borders. No more people should be let in. European ground is for Westerners and Westerners alone. This is our home; our space; our food; our jobs; our freedom. Or so it seems. Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves: why are these migrants coming here? What makes them so desperate to reach European soil?

The answer is simple. They are running. Running from wars, running from famine, running from desolation, oppression and violence. These people are so scared and desperate that they endure horrors during their long journeys North, all in hope of having a better life somewhere in Europe. They are tricked by human traffickers and led to believe that Europe has jobs for them. That they can get new lives here, and the means to provide for their families or for themselves. When you are faced with a country at war – your own home -, with no livelihoods and no freedom for you and your family, and you are told that there are countries in the North where there are no wars, there are jobs, there is religious and ethnic tolerance… What would you do?

Would you not be willing to cross land and sea, to risk your life and to plunge into the dangers of the unknown… if that meant you could, perhaps, save your family and yourself? We must put ourselves in others’ shoes before judging. If we were the ones being haunted by suffering, hunger and persecution, would we not try to reach salvation?

Public discussions seem to approach two main alternatives on how to deal with this major crisis. Let us reflect on both scenarios:

1) Europe entirely closes its borders. Setting a straight line of military ships across the Mediterranean Sea and stopping any more vessels from reaching European soil is becoming a popular idea for many people. But what are its consequences?

If we close the borders, millions of people will die. Essentially, we will be leaving Africans to kill Africans. Countries will go into civil wars, more innocents will be slaughtered, human rights will disappear in the midst of chaos and destruction. For some of us, this might not seem like such a bad idea. For others, it might seem like a sad, yet unavoidable outcome. However, we have a responsibility, as human beings, to defend those of us who cannot defend themselves – and we have, too, a responsibility from a historical, colonial point of view. Most of the conflicts African countries are currently going through are closely related to Western nations. If we do not have political interest in an African country, we will leave Africans to deal for themselves. If we are interested, we can fund wars, dictators and terrorists… all in order to profit from the situation.

2) Europe takes in every migrant who reaches its shores. For the contrary, if we welcome our new (un)welcome guests into European soil, how long will it take until we run out of resources? Standing in the middle of our very own political, economical and social crisis, we are not properly prepared to accept thousands of new people into our countries. Overpopulation being an ever growing issue, if we accept even more individuals and families into our nations… how will we all survive?

It seems, then, that both these scenarios are infeasible. How can we change the game? The only logical answer – which doesn’t make it the least bit easy – is changing the conditions of the countries in conflict. Attack the root of the problem, instead of only cutting down the branches and wait for them to grow back. If we change the conditions and make life better for the migrants, they will no longer need to run away from war and famine towards Europe. But there is a strong lack of political interest in ending these conflicts, because, of course, we profit from them.

So how can we solve this? Public pressure over Governments is, as with many other problems, the best chance we have got to change this paradigm. With numbers growing indefinitely, it is becoming ever more clear that immigration will be the grand social issue of the 21st Century.

Some of you might argue that the entire “Public Pressure” plan is “very nice in theory, not so achievable in practice”. It is, indeed, a piece of advice we have been told over and over again… But maybe that is because this is actually a good piece of advice. Even more: it is quite probably the best way to deal with an international, humanitarian crisis of such dimension. Just like Global Warming. Just like Economy, Politics or any other affair that involves multiple people… that involves the entire world. Once again I state: we must stop viewing ourselves as individuals, and start realising that we are all one. One species thriving to survive in an endangered world. When will we stop seeing some of us as disposable, and start seeing all of us as having the same rights to live equally and fairly on this Planet?

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing Yoga Pants – a Debate on Opposite Gender Discussions

For the past few years, the word Feminism has been progressively more associated with man-hating. For anybody who knows the true meaning of the word, this might not make much sense: feminism, by definition, is an ideology that defends gender equality, equal rights between men and women. Therefore, how can it be sexist?

As a woman, I am all about defending women’s rights, and so would I be if I were a man. This is only logical, since the human sex ratio for our world population is 101 men to 100 women and, as long as one half of the Earth’s population is being discriminated and does not have the same rights as the other, I don’t see how the second half can thrive. If we were in a reverse situation and men were the oppressed gender, I would gladly defend their equality of rights. So, for a person like me, it is worrying to see how tarnished the word Feminism has become. My worry can only translate into one simple, yet very complex question: How and why did this happen?

Drifting through social networks, you can find plenty of discussions regarding this subject, one of which falls directly on women’s use of yoga pants. According to many men, this causes women to lose their legitimacy when they complain about being the target of sexual remarks. I found this to be a good example because it raised a lot of questions. Women complain about being harassed by men on the streets. If they are wearing yoga pants when this happens, do they still have the right to complain or are they “asking for it”? Can men control their urge to look at women and catcall them? Are women still harassed when they are not wearing yoga pants? In this case, do men lose all of their legitimacy? Have they ever had such legitimacy?

Although these questions all relate to the same particular situation (this temporary fashion of the yoga pants) I think they also lead us directly into the core subject: the Battle of the Sexes, women’s rights versus men’s rights. These are some comments I read when I was watching a video about women wearing yoga pants:

1 – “The amazing double morale with women is that they want men to want them, but they also complain about you wanting them. (…) And also their lack of understanding of the human behaviour: men are hard wired to always look for potential mates”.

2 – “You are a woman so your lack of logic does not surprise me, because women are not logical, they are emotional. Women also love attention, they want to be taken as a priority by men. If a man cheats on them, they will be mad at him because they feel like they aren’t his priority any more”.

3 – “Women wouldn’t complain about being catcalled if the man doing it was Brad Pitt”.

4 – “Men built and maintain civilization and will determine the future of it, women are strictly along for the ride”.

5 – “Women are biologically and naturally stupid, they always sleep with guys who disrespect them, who have a big wallet and are physically fit”.

6 – “When women stare at men, it looks as creepy and awful as what women say about men doing the same“.

All these replies to the video shocked and saddened me. These statements hardly deserve to be answered. For instance, statement number 1: men are apparently willing to make little of their rational thinking just to win the discussion. Saying that men cannot control their biological urge to “look for potential mates” and use that as an excuse to harass women on the streets is the same as saying that they are primal beings who act purely on instinct.

Statement number 2: there is a common saying according to which women tend to act more based on their emotions than on their reason. But I do not believe that there is such a big difference between men and women. Men are also sensitive, emotional beings. It is society that has taught them to raise prejudice against their vulnerable, sensitive side, denying it and trying to rationalize it. Having said that, both men and women are rational and emotional beings.

Statement number 3: men would probably not be displeased if Angelina Jolie walked by them on the street and whistled at them. There is, nevertheless, a considerable difference between some innocent remarks and crude, sexual comments.

After having taken a look at all these biased, absurd statements, I decided to reply to the man who wrote statement number 2. I told him that, if he was using the argument that women act purely out of their emotions, I could as simply use the argument that “men only think with their lower head”. However, by doing so, I would be incurring in a stereotype, just like he had done. It is as much a stereotype to say that women cannot control their emotions in front of men as it is to say that men are only driven by their sexual impulses.

In fact, looking at all the comments below the video and at all arguments used in common discussions between men and women, the common factor is this: using stereotypes to attack each other.

While stereotypes can, on one hand, help us react quickly to a certain situation (because we can recognise them from other common situations) they will, on the other hand, ignore the differences between individuals. Stereotypes can be very biased and discriminate large numbers of people. Having heard and participated in many arguments between men and women, I have always seen this happen: both parties use stereotypes to attack each other and prove their point.

So, going back to my first question, I believe one of the answers is:

  • Women lose their legitimacy when defending their own rights by using stereotypes to attack men and prove their point. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all women do this. But it is important to remember that having a mediator intervention in opposite gender discussions can raise greater agreement than attacking the other party.

Another reason as to why the word Feminism has been tarnished is:

  • Just like women must not incur into any stereotypes against men, men must do the same. To continue insulting each other with these widespread, overstated ideas related either to the female or male gender will only harm both.

And this last statement leads me to the final conclusion:

  • Women and men must not view each other as opposite parties. We obviously have to recognise the differences between us, because they exist, but that does not mean that we don’t deserve equal rights.

Having taken these arguments into consideration, there is another question to reflect on: If women are wearing yoga pants when this (being harassed by men) happens, do they still have the right to complain or are they “asking for it”?

In my belief, it is not just misogynistic men who are responsible for denigrating the idea of Feminism. Women who have certain behaviours that objectify them are not helping themselves or any other woman. We cannot make men respect us if we do not respect ourselves first. As a result, I believe it is important to point this out:

  • The contempt towards Feminism is caused by both men and women. Viewing each other as opposite sides of one battle, as competitors or opponents, does not help either of us.

The best way to clean the word Feminism and to fight for women’s rights – a fight that should be carried out by both genders – is to stop attacking each other with stereotypes and to act as mediators in these endless discussions. To recognise that the rights of one of us are deeply connected to the rights of all the others is fundamental. We must not think of ourselves as individuals, but as one group that needs to live together in this world, sharing it peacefully and equally with all other living beings.

Post Scriptum:

Feminism = an ideology that defends equal rights for women

Sexism = discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender

Transforming Today’s Schools

Students these days are showing great dissatisfaction over their school lives, and I am not talking about the classical teenage rebellion of skipping classes or flunking. Why? Because classes are always the same: repetitive, restraining and often focused on useless subjects for the future.

Schools force students to sit still and pay attention to their teachers’ words for more than one or two hours at a time, when shorter classes with more break time in between have already proved to be more effective. They teach students the same set of allegedly unchangeable ideas and concepts, the same already rationalized arguments, without giving them room for discussion or encouraging independent thinking. They make students store data in their heads like encyclopedias, with many concepts being completely useless for the students’ professional or personal future.

As a consequence, the current educational system seems to be failing. It is failing to raise better citizens, it is failing to raise inspired, future professionals. And this has an impact on society itself. There are many ways to change the system and lead it to causing a much greater good.

1 – Teaching ecology. Teaching students how to grow vegetable gardens, how to plant trees and how to use organic waste to create natural fertilizers is an option that is yet greatly untapped. We live in a world where natural resources are quickly disappearing, pollution is widely spread, and more and more diseases are being linked to bad eating habits. Learning to cultivate “oxygen factories” and to grow your own, biological food (GMO’s free) is perhaps a better idea than most people would imagine.

Plus, learning about gardens can help improve students’ skills in other areas such as Maths, Science, History and Health! See how in this article by National Geographic: http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2014/11/28/teaching-kids-grow-vegetables-school/.

2 – Meditating. By definition, meditation is a practice in which the individual trains the mind to be free of all outer influences, including what is bad and hurtful. Practised in different religions, it is maybe most alluring in the Eastern religions circle, namely in Buddhism.

Meditation has been seen to produce fascinating and apparently unexplainable effects on people. This example of what happened in a San Francisco school when meditation practices were introduced to its troublesome students can speak for itself: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/01/05/something-remarkable-happened-after-these-troubled-grade-school-students-were-taught-meditation/.

Perhaps teaching students in several schools basic meditation techniques, and allow them to explore and train their own minds, could lead them to a greater awareness of the world around them. What kind of adults would we see in our world tomorrow if we taught them to be peaceful, empathetic children today?

3 – Organizing school debates. Many young people today seem to lack the interest in politics, economics, social and environmental affairs. The educational system has the duty to teach students the basic notions of these extensive, relative subjects, so that they can confront them with their own knowledge in the future. Creating school debates would not only encourage interaction between staff and students of the same school, but it would also inform them, develop their knowledge, their independent thinking and their argumentative skills.

4 – Engaging students in societal causes. A cooperation between schools and local, civic organizations would be of incredible value to students, the organizations and communities themselves. Sharing work and commitment towards common goals would raise the students to be better citizens, and it could help local organizations reach wider results.

5 – Having special arts classes. Arts have always inspired and brought people together. To create an artistic environment in a school would certainly have amazing results. Allowing students to choose between drama, painting, dance, music, creative writing, photography or any other form of art while studying for their regular, academic subjects would have many positive effects. One of its greatest impacts would be to give students an opportunity to learn something with more freedom of movement, more relaxation and more creativity. Having a special time to be relaxed and carefree would also help students maintain their focus during regular classes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Create Change

As an 18-year-old person at the moment of writing this, I have encountered many questions when reflecting on subjects such as global change. One of the most crucial and repeating questions is: how can an individual actually create change?

If you are already part of the global awareness movement, be it on any level at all, you will have heard of the need to change the world around you. Many inspirational speakers and motivators of these changes urge you to act personally towards the well-being of our world. But while they speak of it as a simple and obvious set of actions, it might be so simple and obvious that you can feel momentarily lost and not know what to actually, specifically do.

You were likely subjected to these conversations in school, such as “Small Acts to Prevent Global Warming: change a light bulb, buy energy-efficient products, use less heat and air conditioning, save on hot water…”, etcetera. We are, however, beyond the point where small, personal acts alone can have a significant influence on the preservation of our planet. It is now time for big, international measures. Governments and corporations must undertake commitments – and they will do so with the continuous increase of public pressure.

As a result, it is important that we not only apply this pressure on our official representatives, but also do not forget to act on a personal level. And regarding this, there are two dimensions in which each individual can contribute:

  • Physical Sphere: our own actions to help preserve Planet Earth; physical changes in our lives to make life easier for others and for ourselves;
  • Psychological / Emotional Sphere: we must never forget the power of our thoughts, intentions and feelings. If we nurture feelings of happiness, hope, solidarity, sharing and helpfulness, others will be more receptive to us, and our positive energy will also influence them. In the near future there will be a more detailed article on this subject, debating the existence of the “aura” and its effects on others around us.

Being aware that your acts can have a positive impact on other beings, not requiring to be great, heroic actions, here is a list of a few, simple things you can do that will, on a smaller or wider scale, contribute to a better world:

1 – Sign Public Petitions. The power of your signature is probably more than you have ever imagined. Groups such as Avaaz.org, Change.org, Amnesty International, Greenpeace and so many others gain immense strength by their followers who loyally sign their public petitions. Although out of 10, only 2 or 3 petitions will most likely get real, transforming results, those who achieve their goals have only done so because thousands of people joined the movement. It is quick and easy; it doesn’t require any effort, work or waste of time. Sign for a cause, represent the cause, and your name will matter.

2 – Plant A Tree. One of the most pressing issues in today’s world is deforestation. It is a crisis that will ravage the entire planet. The Amazon Rainforest alone constitutes more than half of the world’s surviving tropical forests, it is one of its biggest lungs (oxygen producers)… and it is being destroyed at an alarmingly fast pace. To plant a tree does not necessarily mean that you will wake up one day, go buy some seeds all by yourself, find a free spot on a flower bed and plant a tree… Or it might. You may also join a local movement, create your own group with friends or family or join an international organization. No matter who you bring into it, it will always be a positive action to plant an extra tree on Earth. Oxygen can never be too much, can it? And neither can Nature.

3 – Recycle. This one never gets old. Nevertheless, it is important to realise that, despite having already moved beyond the point where only individual actions can change the state of things, we must not stop doing it. Recycling will always be a strong support against non-renewable resources.

4 – Educate Yourself. Like oxygen, a little extra knowledge is never too much. Raising your own awareness on original, healthy ways of preserving the world, or ways of improving your life and others’, is always important. Realising how perilous and unsustainable life on Earth is becoming, you may learn to give it greater value and respect.

5 – Educate Others. Being probably one of the most important missions you can undertake, educating others does not mean lecturing them on boring subjects. For the contrary, it means awakening their knowledge to the state of our world, to the importance of change, and to how we can personally start doing it. After all, as Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world“.

Discovering and creating new solutions for our world’s problems is a path that will never be too spent.

 

 

 

 

 

Shifting Consciousness

Mainstream Media is one of the most powerful – if not the most powerful – tools used by the ruling forces of this world to control the masses and keep people from truly knowing what is going on around them.

If you turn on the TV today, you will hear the latest news on a fundamentalist group’s bombing of some Middle Eastern city; you will hear the latest news on a bloodbath in some African country fuelled by religious intolerance; you will hear the latest news on the economical crisis in Europe; the latest news on the African-American protests against police brutality and racism in North America; the latest news on a plane crash, a school bus falling off a bridge, a man murdering his wife and children, homosexuals being persecuted in Russia, a reporter being beheaded somewhere in the Middle East… If you turn on the news, chances are you are going to be bombarded with accidents, killings, violence, death.

And we can ask ourselves: what is the common factor in all these headlines? Fear. They all feed fear. People are being injected with fear everyday. Why? Because fear will most likely keep you quietly in a corner, it will keep you under control, expecting your Government and those who are supposed to defend and represent you to keep you safe. As along as you are afraid, you will cling to your steady, uneventful, reassuring daily lifestyle.

And while you are calmly and subserviently doing your everyday life – go to work, pay your taxes, feed your family, buy a car, pay your taxes (don’t forget to pay your taxes! Oh, never mind, nobody will let you forget…) – the media will throw at you all kinds of material possessions that will keep you comfortable and content. Consumerism is a two-sided weapon: on one hand, it keeps people distracted, constantly seducing them with new additions to their ordinary, safe life. On the other hand, it brings profit to those in power. The same ones who fund and pay for the armed conflicts that are then used to scare people on the news.

Mainstream Media and the alleged World leaders have effectively achieved a devastating reality in today’s world: they have built a psychological and sometimes physical barrier between the Western countries (the “most developed countries”, the “First World countries”) and the rest of the world (the “Third World countries”, the poor, those considered to be less civilized). They have effectively made most people believe that what affects a certain African country, children in Colombia, women in the Middle East, cannot physically affect them in their own homes. For many Western people, when they turn on the news and hear of the latest bombing in Afghanistan or the latest attack on a Kenyan university, they feel momentarily shocked and sorry for the victims and then they go back to their dinner. This idea that the evil committed upon some does not affect all is a blatant and dangerous lie.

There are no barriers, no frontiers between us, living beings of the Earth, except those we build ourselves – whether in our minds or on paper. These barriers are threats to global peace and global well-being. For as long as we keep viewing violence against others as a shameful act that we can do nothing about, our world will be unbalanced.

So how do we change this? The truth is it is already changing.

Global consciousness* (or global awareness) is already growing towards a shifting paradigm. People are starting to wake up and to realise that they are being fed with lies and frauds. The yet so common and powerful idea of individualism that we have been living under for so long is starting to change. People are not satisfied with their ways of life. They are not content with the changeless, unsatisfactory routines that keep them from truly exploring their passions and their nature. They see that our World leaders are not tending to the needs of Planet Earth. They see that all of us, together, have the power to change the paradigm. To shift our global consciousness.

There have hardly ever been so many protests, public events and riots happening in so many different places at the very same time before. News of this can be found everywhere… except in the Mainstream Media. Searching for alternative media outlets can change the way you think by giving you a hopeful, healthier picture of what life on this Planet can be like. So if what you see around you appears only to bring pessimism, suffering and irreversibility, try to find another perspective – one of unity and change. Shifting Consciousness is a process that has already been set in motion, but it can only affect the entire world if everybody starts exploring it – and changing their own consciousness.

 

* Global Consciousness: The concept that, when a certain number of people focus their minds, their consciousness, on a common cause, they will influence the world around them.

 

 

 

To Believe in Change

Why is it so easy for so many people to discard the possibility of changing our world? Why do so many people think it is impossible to change the way we live in, the way we conceive our lives nowadays? And why are those who believe in it seen as naïve, hopeless dreamers, insane or utopian?

I would say there is a conjunction of reasons as to why this happens, all of which are closely related.

1 – Fear. Fear is the number one cause as to why there are so many people who claim not to believe in the possibility of change. Truth is, we are all afraid of change, be it on a personal or in a global level. Fear of the unknown has always been a common trait of the human species – probably even of multiple sentient species.

Who among us has not feared the unpredictability of our future when we were young – or already adults? Who among us has not feared to make the wrong decision, when faced with the pressure of deciding our entire life based on a few choices when we were 16, 18 or 20-years-old? Who among us has never been afraid of “being stuck in a rut”?

However, for as much as we might fear change, it will always come. It is one of the most universal truths there is. Nothing is permanent, everything changes. We must, therefore, do our best not to fear it, because it will always happen when we least expect it, either for better or for worse. It is beyond our control.

But is it entirely? Let us look at point number 2.

2 – Lack of belief in oneself. Most people do not know or trust their own power. In each of us lies the ability to change the world, simply because change starts within. And it is our belief in change that can and will inspire others to believe in it too.

You have all probably heard of the common saying “Actions speak louder than words”. Instead of “words” we might use “thoughts” or “intentions”. In fact, intentions tend to come before actions. In ancient, Eastern religions such as Tibetan Buddhism, it is believed that your mental states are as important as your personal actions, provided that they nurture the right intentions. If you truly believe in goodwill, compassion, love, solidarity… your belief will be spread to others as honest and truthful. If you truly believe in something, you can share it with others knowing that you have behind you the strength of your honesty and faith.

We must trust our own powers and believe in them, just as we must believe that we, together, can bring change to the world.

This notion of our own power may, as always, be a double-edged sword. If we are powerful enough to do good, then we can be powerful enough to do bad. How can we, then, empower people with the realization of their own abilities and not lead them to harmful, egotistical acts? This can be explained in point number 4.

3 – Conformism. Most people are conformists. This is a widely known truth. As we grow up we are told how to live our lives in the same old, conventional way: you go to school, you study, you build a career, you start a family, you buy a house and a car, you work until you are 65 (+/-), you pay your taxes and then you die. (Or not, if somebody finally finds Nicholas Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone and achieves immortality).

We are told this so many times and by so many people around us, people we trust, people we listen to, that most of us believe they feel comfortable with their own lives. But do they really? Is it possible that they feel interiorly dissatisfied? Do they not secretly want more – or different? The ability to imagine and construct a new, different life is directly connected to the courage to change what we have always assumed to be right, to be “normal”: conventional.

This leads us back to point number 1 – fear. If we do not have the courage to experience something new, to follow a new path, to create a new path… then how are we ever going to change our lives and those of others around us? To have the life you secretly desire, to build it and to enjoy it, you must first know yourself. Truly know yourself.

Which leads us to our final point number 4.

4 – Knowing oneself. People don’t explore themselves as they really should. If one carefully explored one’s inner essence, inner being, they would discover that the purer feelings we can harbour are those of love, unity, friendship, compassion. The human being has never been a solitary creature. We have never been independent as individuals. We need each other. We need to communicate with others, we need to love others, we need to grow with others and to live with them, in order to survive as a species. And this can only happen harmoniously if you nurture benevolent, peaceful feelings inside you.

To know your own dreams, your own passions – to know what makes you tick – is a way to access what truly makes you happy. And is it not every living being’s topmost desire to experience happiness and be free of suffering? Besides, what really makes you happy has the power to make others happy. This brings us to point number 2 and to point number 3. If people believed in themselves more, they would probably be more confident about following their own dreams, creating their own paths (belief in oneself).

If we believe that we have the power to positively influence the lives of others around us, we can no longer stay put (conformism) and live the same ordinary lives that are made of work, taxes, work and taxes. Working for survival. We will no longer conform to this tedious, stagnated way of life, for we will find what makes us happy, what makes us free… and what can consequently inspire and help others to also be free and happy.