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Archive for the ‘Pondering’ Category

van onze dag af aan

loopt de tijd in sprongen terug

van ogen die de grond bestaren

en warme wangen on te pas

is het wij gebouwd uit vroeger

van ogen die wel zagen

maar zonder mond die sprak?

van onze dag af aan

nestelt onmacht tussen beelden

van ogen die niet kunnen vragen

naast verlopen tijd met niets

geen wij of iets behalve mij

van gister ziet wat ons kan zijn

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May 14, 2011

Dear Malthus

Yeah, but if I’m hungry

You were right: the world population expands faster than food production. Although Western population growth has slowed down because we have a higher prosperity level, theThird Worldsuffers from an unrestrained increase in population amounts. For decades, farming land and cattle ranching have been taking over nature landscape. To supply six billion people with food, everything is produced at large extent, with monoculture, aided with fertilizer and factory farms. Still people are starving while, according to recent figures, food production is high enough to supply twelve billion people.

I guess you did already know that poverty in developing countries maintains the people surplus and food shortage. It is probably new to you that food-scarcity is a matter of equal sharing. In theThird Worldthey lack everything: job opportunities, food, a solid position in world economy, money. Here in the West we have plenty of everything and I think that we can feed the one hundred thousand people dying of hunger every day with all the food we throw away.

Beside that, since your time income differences between the West and theThird Worldhave increased and several economic activities maintain these differences. Here in the West governments subsidize farmers because they are going through economically uncertain times. The production surplus that originates from the subsidizing is sold – for usurious prices – in African countries, which economically harms the farmers there.

Yet the local farmers try to survive and this causes the unsustainably use of water and soil in developing countries: each year tropical rain forest areas as large asEnglandare cleared for agriculture. Production per hectare is enlarged by not leaving any land as fallows and increasing cattle density on meadows.

Half way the previous century, Garret Hardin noticed that biodiversity, water quality, soil fertility, production per hectare and ecosystem value drastically decline because of humans collectively using these natural resources too intensively; current environmentalists say exactly the same. What can we do? Nature is so valuable, we cannot just mess her up. Did you know that biodiversity in tropical rain forests is so huge that every step you take you can encounter a new species? Still the rain forest in South-America disappears to give place to soy, which is used to feed the European cattle. (And processed in countless food and care products.) Mangrove forests are cleared because of the high instrumental value of the timber and the areas themselves are tainted due to shrimp farms, while the forests as an ecosystem are much more valuable. Hoe can we prevent the species richness of thousands of years of development to be spoiled?

At this very moment multiple Western organizations are struggling against poverty and for sustainable technologies. I think education is a good way of giving help. We can provide sexual education to put a brake on the geometrical population growth and teach locals how to use water and soil sustainably. It is a bit like raising appreciation for nature.

Okay, I can hear your thinking: how sustainably would we live if we were hungry? A rhetorical question. Malthus, they die because we flourish. Here in the West we spend a lot of attention to sustainable technologies, nature conservation and even nature development, because we are rich enough to spend our money on that. People and nature in developing countries are the victims of the neoliberal character of our global economy. Poverty does not lead to nature degradation, as long as people live harmonically. The world-wide market is just so non-transparent that we in the West are simply not aware that our consumption pattern is destroying nature in developing countries. We do not see who or what is paying for our prosperity. It is just hypocrisy that we spend so much money on developing projects while we are indirectly responsible for the damage.

I write to you because I cannot solve this problem on my own. At least, I only know some useless suggestions. Perhaps we should discard capitalism and become communists. Then there won’t be any distinctions between poor and rich and will farmers in contemporary developing countries no longer be forced to destroy nature in order to maintain their families. Or perhaps we can use gene technology to turn off the gene that determines our avarice. Then we can be satisfied with all that nature offers without trespassing her carrying capacity.

Malthus, I write especially to you because I think you made a step towards the right direction. In your essay from 1798 you used insights from economy and biology to describe why the human population crosses the carrying capacity of nature. This problem has become a global issue now and has led to a poor state of nature preservation in developing countries.

I think it is time to build bridges between different scientific disciplines to solve this kind of social problems. We have to share knowledge with each other, because in this complex world, solo insights are not sufficient anymore. By hearing a word such as ‘free market mechanism’, biologists stay awfully quiet, and when economists are confronted with the nutrient cycles, at night they are having troubles falling asleep.

Malthus, I would like to ask you if you would like to employ your multiple disciplinary qualities in an interdisciplinary research team to come up with solutions for sustainable solutions to nature conservation in the Third World. Within this collaboration the theme ‘Yeah, but if I’m hungry’ will take a central stage, by which focus will be on both food scarcity in developing countries and Western consumption appetite. Maybe you can get in touch with Garrett Hardin, or Arjun Appadurai? Can I count on you? Because it would be a dreadful thing if our exquisite nature will be lost.

Kind regards,

CB.

Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie van dit essay.

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I have friends who admitted that confessing you’re gay is a thing you better don’t do. The ‘otherwise’ part I missed, but as it concerned friends from a very christian village near my hometown, I could only guess it had something to do with ‘not-done’.

For a very long time I wondered why some people are gay and why other are not. I already figured out that gay people are not well accepted in most cultures, because 1) men are supposed to sleep with women and produce offspring 2) gay men are not exactly masculine and 3) people find it repulsive only to think of two men kissing and/or having sex.

Let me start with the third point. Why would you find it repulsive that two other people than yourself have a good time together? You are not forced to look, you are not even forced to think about it. It is only your upbringing that somehow emphasized that men are attracted to women and vice versa.

Then the second point. No, gay men are not masculine, but they can be strong and they look like men. They only, somehow, do not act like a straight man. Gay men usually fulfill the more (very girly) feminine occupations, related to styling, fashion and design… Scientific research concluded that brains of gay men are more suited for working with art, design and other area`s that require creativity and eye for details. Though lots of gay men have an office job or a job in engineering.

The first point, and especially the part about producing offspring, is for me, an environmentalist, the most important one. In nearly all cultures gay people are not accepted for a whole range of reasons, that are based upon prejudices and opinion-based cultural values. I think the existence of gay people serves a very noble goal: it is a natural solution to overpopulation. Imagine that around 5-10% of a population does not breed because it does not feel attracted to individuals of the opposite sex. This would seriously reduce the amount of children and will prevent that the human population will expand excessively.

So, what I wanted to say was that we (all people on this globe) should not hate gay people just because they do not act masculine, or are more sensitive than straight guys, or scream like a girl in stead of roaring like a tough guy. Gay people are very nice to talk to – especially when you’re a girl (like me) and finally find a guy who understands you! – they will not hit on man`s wife, they will not fancy a girl when she is not interested, they do not contribute to overpopulation.

Actually, you could say gay people are totally harmless and do not deserve the hatred that they receive. Of course, there are criminal gay people, but there are also straight criminal people. And I have very rarely heard of gay people beating up straight people (which is also a crime, of course).

In short, confessing you’re gay should not be a torture. In stead, we should welcome gay people who step out of their closet.

NOTE: Click here for a short article about what the Bible says about gay marriage/same sex marriage that inspired me to write this post. I do not contradict the article, because I also do not see why people who can’t have childeren should raise children, but I want to add that what the Bible says is not doubtless true (as the Bible has been written by humans, and before these stories and ‘wisdoms’ have been written down, a lot of oral story telling has probably ruined the original story line (which does not exclude there is some true in Biblical stories) and people of a few centuries ago did not know as much about nature and biological process as we do now) and christians (and also muslims, jews, hindu’s etc.) should stop hating their fellow men because the authors of religious books judged in stead of looked at facts.

NOTE II: Click here for an article by Soulforce, an organization resisting political and religious oppression of gay/lesbian in a relentless, non violent way. Especially pay attention to the interpretation of Biblical texts that provide ways to be none-straight and still be a good, religious person. But above all, consider this:

Most people who are certain they know what the Bible says about homosexuality don’t know where the verses that reference same-sex behavior can be found. They haven’t read them, let alone studied them carefully. They don’t know the original meaning of the words in Hebrew or Greek. And they haven’t tried to understand the historical context in which those words were written.

Very interesting article, a real recommendation!

NOTE III: ‘People who can’t have children should not raise children’ I’ll bring about in a future post about in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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Reality sometimes plays havoc with my understanding. Although it has been said freaks adore confusion, I’d prefer some unexpected light upon my wrecked and troubled certainty. It feels as if my intellect is not sufficient to comprehend the complicated interactions between people. I used to accuse my poor emotional quotient of this delusional image flashing upon my inner eye, but lately I became convinced reality is far from a rational world. Writing down these doubts hopefully offers some clearing. Therefore, this is a true story. It is also a classic story. Just a random group of male and female friends in which reality emerges close by, almost intrusive, and resembles the level of a soap.

One of my best friends in the group, Katy, recently broke up with her boyfriend. This guy was one of the five guys in the random group, but he also belonged to another group of just male friends. For now I will call him Sam. After they split up, my friend was very down and could not stop crying and worrying while she was convinced she had made a right decision. I supported that. But I noticed something else, a thing that made my stomach ache. One of the guys from the group, the sharp-witted and handsome William, showed above average interest in my now single friend, who is really pretty with her dark red curls and spouted lips. Next to her, I am nearing the ugly, skinny know-it-all who struggles to fit in.

It turned out, like seven months ago, I had fallen in love with William. But I did not want him, and he seemed far from interested in me. It made things incredibly complicated, as we often met as a group and we had to do stuff friends do, but somehow my shyness and confusing feelings made me screw up everything I said or did to him. I acted like a complete idiot, behaving not quite like myself. And it was one night in the very near past I became afraid William had fallen in love with Katy, and Katy would eventually fall for him, as they already were having these little jokes between them – of which she told me enthusiastically.

Of course I wanted to have a boyfriend, but not just anyone. William just caused some positive shivering in my tummy, but I knew very well I created a mind-based fantasy which was far from the beer-drinking, soccer-watching, always-bantering guy he was. Though I had seen he was also caring and very kind, the thing that annoyed me most was his lack of seriousness and the fact our views of life were contrary like day and night. I knew for sure it would not work out.

Another friend of mine, Antoinette, was dating John, who had been a friend of William long before we all met each other. Antoinette was the spontaneous blonde who was very sensitive to boy’s attention and that is why – she told me! – she is having a relationship with John though she is not in love. I could never do that, but I understood why she could. It was visible for anyone who looked beyond the platonic interaction inside the group. Anyone would notice there are not much sparks between them, which is sad because John is extremely kind and a good folk to laugh with (or about), though I cannot blame Antoinette for not falling in love with him. Neither did I, while he pays much more attention to me than William does, though I somehow granted him my hidden butterflies…

One and a half year ago I was having the same ‘problem’ as Antoinette. A guy had fallen for me, he was nice and caring, but that was all. There was no excitement, no lightning bolts striking through my body as we kissed, no heavy lump for a heart when I thought of him. The sparks just lacked. We dated only for four months or so, never got to the real stuff because he was shy and not particularly charming, which did not stimulate me to take some steps on my own. Somehow he got this idea in his mind we were very going along very well, even wanting me to introduce to his family. It was a hell of a job to break up with him. I told him the news in personal after I got back from a holiday with my parents and four of my female friends. It went easily, and I coddled the fake hope I could heave a sigh of relief that I hurt someone but it was okay now.

It turned out it was not. He began stalking me with e-mails I answered rather snappy – which is an understatement – but all I wanted was him to leave me alone. I dumped him, yes, but what kind of guy does not see his girlfriend is not feeling happy in the relationship anymore?! Must be the wrong guy then, or do girls pretend too much everything is fine because we do not like hurting people in the first place? In the end, my ex and I argued in e-mails, throwing about nasty language, and ignored each other when we accidentally passed by at school. Fortunately, he did not do the same subjects as I did.

I always remind myself my ex was the in-between of two crushes. Before dating my ex-boyfriend I was in love with another guy, Ray. He was a colleague (like my ex) with cute curly hair and bright blue eyes, which is exactly my type of guy and, apart from the dark blue eyes, my ex did not have any characteristics of the type I prefer. But like with William, the world views of Ray and me were like day and night, and I suspected this would not work out anyhow. He was, moreover, not interested in me as far as I could tell, which made it a lot easier to get over it.

During the holiday with my parents, I met this other boy, Julio, who had the most beautiful blue eyes in the world and was cute – nearly cuddly – in all he did. Of course, I started to doubt my relationship of those days and realised that if I was able to fall for another guy than the one I was dating, there was somewhere something very wrong. It justified breaking-up a little more: it was not just because I did not like my ex so much, but there was someone else, which I always thought of as a lame excuse to end a relationship, but now I had experienced this myself I found it very reasonable. It was impossible to continue with the one person if your mind and heart were with the other person. I never told my ex, just stated I missed the sparks.

In the end, I am still awaiting a guy who loves me and I love him back and his kiss which will cause a warm jolting experience in my body. So far, I never dated or kissed guys I was in love with, which I regret very much. All the experience hardened my heart, I had hoped so, but this reality still plays havoc with my understanding, no matter how much I keep telling I do not want to get involved in all this pop love and switching of lovers. Perhaps I am not the one with poor emotional quotient. My head and heart are bickering like two bitches, controlling one another, illicitly vile. Yeah, the thing I fear most is Katy and William will form a couple, eventually. This would, of course, not trouble me so much if I get over it.

Last week I read books, since a very long time. In plain language the deep love I can imagine was revealed to me. It is a weird thing, me longing for this deep love but somehow never have experienced it in real life. But I know it is just the collision of falling in love and being loved back. It cannot be too hard to fall for a guy who has also fallen for me, huh? So I can escape this envying of people heading for or having relationships.

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the writing stumbles a little

with thoughts rushing by

and days filled with digits

the mind`s distracted

future creeps closer

but no time to think

killing final decisions

aren’t I what I want to be?

already there or not quite yet?

a flow of music background noise

needed to survive

not knowing what is next

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It was like the last time, in multiple ways. The positive way was the satisfaction of the call, as the place keeps calling me, over and over again. It probably is the southern location, the landscape, the slightly different tongue of the locals, the association with the first little exotic holiday, the exposed yellow white rock, the Roman and Baroque building style… Today the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Some sense of freedom emerges, as if the place is a place where I could belong. But why? I ascribe the answer to the call, because nothing ever kept me calling and holding my attention for this long.

The negative way was the repetition of another night of bad music, flawed laughing and uncomprehensive people. The pop love seemed all around, kicking me, with grinning teeth, and saying I am not able to embrace the light-hearted conversations, the acting crazy on behalf of the collective fun and the pretended lack of tiredness. One lumination was the dress code, and the fact this dress code wasn’t restricted to any club in particular, but seemed part of the streetview. Perhaps it was the old-known company – or me – that prevented eyes from meeting. Though as eyes-meeting during this kind of event is perhaps not the most cherished scenario, as the costumes mask the persons underneath them.

Inside I laughed when they said it was perhaps time to go home, because we had been downtown with all the dressed-up people and empty music for over nine hours. The little quarrel during dinner was useless now, but it shed some light upon the strength of character, or actually, the lack of it. It is so easy to claim rights on fun and forget about duty. So, it seems I miss a lot in people around, however they miss things in me too, no doubt.

Sometimes my thoughts hover over destruction of everything, to kill this striking stupidity I see all around. Loads of garbage scattered around in streets and on the squares – all plastics and paper – tons of meat to fill stomaches already filled with alcohol. Sometimes I thought of just leaving everything behind, cut and dye my hair, change clothes, move to the end of the world. Destruction of everything is doomed impossible, the everything spreads like a fungi across the globe, occupying more and more nature, people growing away from their roots, leaving behind people like me, who see, want to judge, but are judged upon as the ones guilty of disturbing the free life that should be filled with pleasure and nothing else, while the comments of my kind could also be envisaged as the answers to several important questions: how to treat Earth, how to treat each other, how to live right, how to change the current situation into a better one?

Honestly, nobody will listen, because these answers expose the responsibilities of the human race and diminish its rights to nothing more than the right to live, and the responsibility to die when time comes. Moving away and leaving everything behind could be my great escape, but will I be able to restrict myself from telling the truth to everyone? Because it is truth I want to tell and not some adjusted lie.

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Religion is both strength and weakness for any society;

It provides meaning to life;

And it leads people astray from the actual problems we face:

Poverty;

Environmental degradation;

Corrupt governments;

Hypocrisy among international organization;

I say, abandon religion and try to see;

Earth is a miracle without involving a god who made Her;

I say, abandon the conviction your truth is the one truth;

For science will prove all religions are the same;

And all the people are alike;

So there is no need to spend time on war, discrimination, praying and pretending;

There is only need to acquire knowledge;

To spread this knowledge;

And to use this knowledge to erase the prevailing ignorance;

For ignorance does not only cover what is really going on;

It also prevents people from finally understanding;

We do harm to each other and the Earth we live on;

Despite the Holy manuals cited, studied, talked of and lived by.

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