Wednesday, 21 November 2007

You cannot own it!

Ran has just done a good post today (November 20) about ownership and how it just doesn't make sense. This is something I've believed for the past few years now - how can anyone actually own anything in this world? I've got a lot of thoughts around this, and reasons why ownership cannot work as we humans use it. I've not written about it before, mainly because it would be quite a long post, as I do have a tendency to try and be complete about things (which some people might see as being a bit rambling). Whereas Ran just gets the essence of an idea across, and I can read between the lines of what he says.

Anyway, as Ran says, ownership is really a negative thing, like a lot of other man-made laws. It is not really about what the 'owner' can do with the owned property, but more about what everyone else in the world cannot do with that property anymore. Which means that in the long run ownership is a restrictive practice that alienates more and more people and disenfranchises them from 'normal' living. And such 'normal' living becomes an acquired privilege, rather than an intrinsic right. The haves versus the have-nots.

And as a result it is unsustainable, as Ran points out. At some point it is going to collapse one way or another. In one distinct possibility, a few select groups of people will officially 'own' every physical object on the planet, and everyone else (the vast majority) will be paying rent for access to and use of it all (also known as wage slavery).

The thing that strikes me as weird, is how mankind ever came up with the concept of outright and everlasting ownership of everything i.e. that just about anything can be owned by someone. Usage of something, and an exclusive right to use it - yes, I can understand that. But outright ownership in perpetuity, whether used or not, seems bizarre and unnatural.

Ownership of specific things, I can kind of get my head around - 'this is my knife', 'this is my house'. But ownership of non-specific things, and general, natural things seems completely weird to me. What I've come to realise is that 'stewardship' of something is possible. I am responsible for an area of land, and for ensuring its wellbeing so that I and many others can benefit from it. This stewardship is a two way relationship - I take care of the land and environment and in return it takes care of me by supplying me with food and resources. And in time this stewardship will pass on to someone else.

Ownership is a one way, exploitative relationship. I take what I want from this, and give nothing back to it in return. Which is the opposite of stewardship (I don't know what other word to use for this at the moment). I do not own this land, as the land beneath our feet cannot be truly owned. I might put down some concrete as a floor surface, and claim ownership of the concrete itself. But I cannot own the land underneath the concrete.

The most bizarre element of this to me is that anyone can own naturally occurring resources such as land, water, air, minerals and animals. I just find the whole concept bizarre and incredible. The argument seems to be that someone can own a piece of land, because the land does not move. It is always the same piece of land in the same location. But what about a river that flows through the land? Can that be owned? What do you own? The land enclosing the river, the form of the river within the landscape, but not the water in it? Or you own the water in it too? So you could dam or divert the river, as it belongs to you?

But who owns this water that you say you own on your land, before it enters your land and after it leaves it? If ownership can change so suddenly then it just shows that ownership of such natural resources is impossible. What about the air above the land? Do you own that too? Can I stop planes flying above my land? Can I shoot them down? And out into space? Or does it stop at some atmospheric boundary? And what about below the surface of the land? All the way down to the core of the Earth?

What about the animals on the land? The current laws seem to say 'Yes, you own the animals on your land'. Which is of course how farms work, and why taking such animals is theft. But what about all the other animals? What about wild animals which wander over large areas? What about deer, foxes, rats, and so on. What about birds and fish? Do you own those when they appear on your land, but no longer own them when they move off? How can you own a fish in a moving river? What about salmon that are born in a river, travel down to the sea, live there for many years, and then travel back up the same river again to spawn? So what if a fence breaks around a farmer's field and the cows wander out onto open, public land? Does the farmer no longer own them?

When a wild deer gives birth to a baby fawn, who owns that new born deer? Real answer - no one does. Nearest answer according to man made laws - that baby belongs to the mother deer, until it becomes old enough to be an independent deer. So who owns the newborn calf of a cow, or lamb of a sheep? The mother animal or the farmer? How can a farmer own something that did not exist before the mother cow gave birth? If the cow temporarily breaks out of the farmer's fields, and gives birth on public land, does the farmer still own the calf?

What also makes 'ownership' impossible in my view is, who owned this stuff in the first place, so that someone else could 'acquire' it and become the legal owner? Answer - no one owned it originally. It just existed. So how can it become owned suddenly? Even if mankind 'owns' everything, who owned it before humans existed? Who owned it all in the time of the dinosaurs?

If all animals were free and unowned, then how did someone come to own an animal for the first time? There was no existing owner to buy it from, or to transfer ownership from. So surely it is impossible to own animals in this outright sense. It is all just a mockery - the emperor's new clothes - and we are all willingly going along with it.

As Ran says, at some point the majority of the people will wake up to this scam, and stop paying rent and stop acknowledging ownership as the man made law currently defines it. And then we might go back to where we were before all this ownership mess started.

Anyway, I've now made the main points I wanted to about the fallacy of ownership. And thanks to Ran for his post for kick starting me to follow up and get my thoughts down.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Freedom = Responsibility

I named this blog about freedom because that is one of the big things that I have become aware of over the past few years - how little freedom we really have. We have choices, but not freedom. We cannot do what we want when we want - we can only choose from those options allowed us by society. We have degrees of freedom - which flavour ice cream do you want? - but not total freedom.

I'm starting to get sick of society telling us we are 'free', when we are really anything but. Civilisation is a big bunch of rules about we cannot do, rather than about what we can do. More and more laws about what is not allowed, to stop the 'bad people', while actually removing more and more freedom from everyone.

I want to emphasis the point that to me freedom brings responsibility. Which I believe is the opposite of what many people will think. The simple view of freedom is that it means less responsibility - less work and less effort. Taking it easy. But true freedom actually requires more responsibility.

I am on about the freedom to do other things I want to do, and not freedom from obligations so that I can ignore them. Freedom from means less responsibility and less accountability. But someone who holds themselves accountable for their own life and wants to be free to live it how they want to will have to be more responsible, not less.

Civilisation today presents us with a set of ways we can conform - education, jobs, owning a house, paying taxes - and in return there are a great many things we do not have to deal with directly. As long as I keep going to work, I can use the money I earn to pay off any responsibility for other things.
  • I don't have to grow food - a farmer does that for me.
  • I don't have to raise cattle and kill them - someone else does.
  • I don't have to find food - the supermarket brings it all to one place.
  • I don't have to find water - the water company pumps it to my house.
  • I don't have to produce cloth and make clothes - someone else does.
  • I don't have to educate my children - the school does.
  • I don't have to find wood and coal - the energy company does.
And the result - almost no real freedom, and a binding pact to go out and work for someone else everyday in return for money.

The truly free person, who wants to do more than just doing the same work for someone else every day, will have to be responsible for all the things just listed, and many more. They have not shirked their obligations, and replaced them all with a steady flow of money; but instead face these obligations each and every day.

I also find it interesting that the people I now recognise as living this free lifestyle are what we call tribal people. These tribes share all the responsibilities of life amongst themselves, and between them do everything necessary to live. All obligations are met directly by the people of the tribe themselves.

And as we also know, this tribal way of living has existed for millions of years. Literally millions of years. And the current way of living in modern civilisation has been around for only about ten thousand years. We have only lost this freedom in recent history, but already almost no one today is aware of this loss. No one seems aware that once we were truly free. Another example of a Great Forgetting. In fact we have gone past that point, to where our freedom is now taken away from us by society by its laws, and we are never aware that there is any other way of living.

I'd like to me more free, and not to have to work every day to earn money to pay someone else for everything else I need. I'd like to interact with all facets of life, not just the one limited aspect of it we call work. But I know that doing that also means a lot more responsibility for me. And unfortunately civilisation has seen to it that I have not learnt all the skills and knowledge I need to take care of myself and my family. And even if I did have those skills and knowledge, the laws of society would stop me from leading a natural life and would probably lock me up in jail. There is no open land to live on, as all land is owned by someone, including the government. On what open, public, shared land there is, you cannot erect a shelter (building is not allowed without written permission). And you cannot hunt wild animals, because such hunting is forbidden or tightly licensed. And even if you could, there are no wild animals left because we have killed them all off to make way for farms and agriculture.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Learning to Walk

Came across this article on Walking on Anthropik some weeks ago, and was really impressed by it. A lot of weeks ago really, but I've kept a link to it because it made me think about our poor feet. In the article Jason describes how a bare, unshod foot would naturally come into contact with the ground, and would flex during the walking movement.

It made me realise how constraining our shoes are. I have always presumed that shoes were there mainly to protect our feet and soles from injury and harm from things on the ground, due to the relative weakness of the human foot and because of man made roads and floorings. What I had not realised was that in doing this shoes have really become little prisons, isolating the feet from all around them. Being a man and wearing standard black shoes to work each day, I realised that my feet had very little degrees of freedom within the shoe. All I could really do is flex it forwards and backwards, as in putting my heel down when walking, and then rolling forwards to push off from the ball of the foot. But this article made me realise that the foot is a lot like the hand, and can flex in the three dimensions and not just in one. Which kind of means that our feet are all crippled in a way, because they cannot move naturally in the way that they have evolved to over time.

The article is reasonably short, and just describes how there are actually different styles of walking and ways of the foot coming into contact with the ground and bearing our weight. But when wearing shoes there is only one way our feet can move, and so only one way of walking.

Another example of how this modern civilisation tricks us into thinking something is a benefit to us - the shoe protects you - while really we stand to lose a lot more than we gain. And of how quickly we forget how things used to be, and maybe should or could be. Being barefoot is surely more natural than wearing shoes - you don't wear gloves all the time do you? But we have been fooled into believing that we should wear some kind of footwear all the time. Babies and children have shoes put on them from a young age, when really quite the opposite would be the most benefit to them.

And it has gone beyond just being functional into being fashionable. Many people now buy shoes because they look nice, not because of any physical benefit from the shoe itself. Talk about losing the plot!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

How to be Free - Tom Hodgkinson

On the one hand I felt that this was a good book covering a wide range of topics that impact how we live today, with many references to other sources and authors to back up the claims he makes about how we should change. On the other hand the book doesn't actually tell you how to be free, but instead tells you how not to be imprisoned or constrained in how you live.

Rather than telling us of new things we can do, Tom actually tells us about a great many things we can try not doing any more, that we are probably doing at the moment. While this is all well and good, it doesn't actually provide any positive actions you can do to be free. Only negative things that you can stop doing, which are holding you back in some way. Which doesn't really seem to be what the spirit of a book about how to be free should be, to me anyway.

All the chapter titles are all about things we can stop doing, such as:
  • Being Anxious and Worrying
  • Paying Bills
  • Careers
  • Living in the City
  • Time Management
  • Competing
  • Debt
  • Shopping
  • Government
  • Automation and Machines
  • A Mortgage to Buy a House
  • Pension Planning
  • Buying at Supermarkets
Very few of the chapters are about positive actions we can take. Even the final chapter is titled "Stop Working, Start Living". This is not really about how you can make yourself free, but rather a long list of all the failings of modern civilisation, and simply telling you to avoid them as much as possible.

That said, I did enjoy reading the book, mainly because the points are so well made about how civilisation fails us all and traps us in an unsatisfying lifestyle. I agreed with everything he wrote about the modern way of life of being a vicious circle of being entrapped to work for an employer to earn money to pay for the things you cannot do for yourself. And becoming trapped by the expectations set by advertising and society, so that you are always trying to achieve more and more. He is spot on in his descriptions of how a job is really slavery, and how your income is taxed to support a large government that spends it mainly on itself, and so on.

All of this is backed up by references from many other sources and authors, that show that Tom is not the first to have realised that there are alternative ways to live, and that much of this has been known for many, many years. I was amazed to find the medieval Catholic church described in such glowing terms, as promoting freedom for the individual and that life should be enjoyed to the full. Not what I expected at all.

Tom really does believe that things all changed when the Puritan point of view came into existence. Which seems to say that Heaven can be achieved through hard work only. And such concepts as accruing money and wealth, lending money as a debt with interest paid, and owning property became accepted as valid as part of this hard work ethic. Before all this change, everyone enjoyed what they could when they could, and simply shared many things with everyone else. Somehow society changed its point of view, and all this became frowned upon. The rise of the individual, and the demise of the community.

A good read, with lots of information about how we used to live much more freely, but with little actual recommendations for positive things you can do. Only the constant recommendations to avoid the trappings of modern life.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Other Side of Eden - Hugh Brody

Hunter-Gatherers, Farmers and the Shaping of the World

Another excellent book. Brody worked and lived with many Eskimo communities in Canada, and writes about his impressions of these people, and contrasts their ways of living with those of western civilisation. He writes here with first hand experience of how these hunter-gatherer people lived, and how perfectly valid their lifestyle is. He goes on to discuss various aspects of their lifestyle, and compares it to modern western civilisation, and shows that theirs is as rich a way of living as any other and lacks nothing. It is the modern civilisation's way of looking at the world that causes some people to think there is something lacking in these hunter-gatherer people, but really it is the other way around - modern civilisation lacks a lot that these indigenous people have had for centuries.

Brody starts out by describing his first work for a Canadian government social department. After a bit of a dry start he gets going describing life in the extreme north in Pond Inlet, and the people he comes across. This is full of wonderful detail of the lifestyle, and the ways of hunting for food. And the wonderful people he comes across - always friendly and warm hearted. And generally happy too - content with their place in the world.

He then moves on to describe some of the atrocities done by the Canadian government in the name of progress, and their devastating effects on the Inuit populations.

The bulk of the book is a series of chapters on different topics. In each topic he compares and contrasts the western viewpoint, and the hunter-gatherer viewpoint. In all cases he shows how the hunter-gatherer has an incredibly rich view of the world, with an associated culture and lifestyle. It is the extremely blinkered view of modern civilisation that stops it seeing the richness and appropriateness of this lifestyle. With civilisation and the takover of the American continent, it was always a case of 'my or no way'. And so the native people always suffered, and were made to conform.

The key point of categorisation by Brody is that the indigenous peoples were hunter-gatherers, living off a mix of hunting for meat and foraging for vegetables and other foods. Modern civilisation is based on farming and agriculture. It is these two opposite ways of living that Brody is contrasting, and the cultures that arise from them.

When modern civilisation enters a new territory it wants to wipe clean away the natural fauna, and import its managed ways of growing crops on the lands. This is the opposite of the hunter-gatherer who works with the land rather than against it.

And this leads to one of Brody's main conclusions: the hunter-gatherer is closer to the land and much more aware of it than the farmer is. The hunter-gatherer lives in one large area for many generations, and moves about within it based on seasons and food availability, in a sustainable way. They are truly aware of the interconnectedness of everything in the world. The farmer by contrast moves into a new area, enforces his way of growing crops and pushes out and away the local species, decreasing the biodiversity. After a while the farmer either exhausts the land, realises his crops will not grow, or it becomes overcrowded with other farms. Then he moves on searching for another place to start over again. Brody sees the hunter-gatherer as the one fixed in a landscape, and the farmer as the one who is the nomad seeking the final place to stay but never achieving it. While the hunter-gatherer has it all along and knows it.

The book is not academic in style, and Brody keeps to a personal tone. You come away with an impression of the richness of the hunter-gatherer peoples around the world, how much we have missed from our modern viewpoint, and how they have been pushed to the boundaries of the planet by the constant expansion of the farmer seeking ever more lands to exploit.

What is also clear is how civilisation has simply marched in, taken away from the indigenous people, and made them conform to civilisation's ways of doing things. Brody describes the bizarre scenario of Inuit people being forced to fight for the right to their land in a Canadian court of law, when the Inuit people were clearly occupying that land long before this law or court or government ever existed. But the court put the burden of proof of ownership and occupation of the land on the Inuit people, and expected some form of material evidence from them for it. Without sufficient proof the land would be deemed to be owned by the Canadian government, which could then sell it off to private concerns, such as logging and mineral companies. When the people tried to enter their traditional stories as a form of evidence there was much heated debate as to whether this counted as 'evidence' or just 'hearsay'.

This book explained some more detail to me of how hunter-gatherers live, the rich detail of their lifestyle which we are often so unaware of, and how valid their way of live is. No one should be saying that this is a backward way of live, or even primitive. They have a rich culture, and one with a strong sense of family and community.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

A Language Older Than Words - Derrick Jensen

A truly excellent book, which I'd recommend to everyone. Jensen describes many of the failings of civilisation and the modern world - both generally in the world at large and specifically in terms of his own life experiences. These all show how modern civilisation is systematically failing, but that there is also another way to live that has been known about since man first came into existence - the 'Language Older Than Words'.

Although the faults of civilisation are many, Jensen has broken them down into bite size chapters. Each chapter is almost self contained, introducing a new topic and exploring it in a variety of ways. Jensen moves between personal experiences (such as the abuse he suffered as a child), and the history and current state of modern civilisation and its many atrocities against the natural world and mankind itself. I felt this worked well, so that the book was not one long list of failings, nor a constant tirade, but more like a conversation that jumps between different topics and different points of view (personal and global).

Through it all Jensen believes that there is another way to exist, which does not have to be so destructive. But any remaining examples of this other way are being hounded out of existence by civilisation, with its relentless expansionism and consumption and closed mind ("our way or no way").

Jensen does not have the answers, and does not claim to. He does not try to tell us what we should do. In this book he only wants us to wake up and see all that is wrong around us, and how it cannot possibly work or make sense. Although the lack of answers is an omission, it does not weaken the book. Rather, the opposite - it strengthens it. He is not distracted by having to provide answers, nor having to explain and justify why one answer is better than another.

In this book he wants us all to understand why civilisation is wrong, and what is wrong with it, and that it should not be this way. If we all agreed on this, then we might be able to work out something better for ourselves.

My abiding memory of reading this book will simply be that I agreed with all that he wrote in it. Civilisation is a mistake - a big one and a very destructive one, that is going nowhere fast, and destroying the quality of life for every living thing on this planet.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Superb summary of Ishmael

Just came across this essay on a blog I was reading this morning, and had to share it with everyone. It is a superb, well written summary of our relationship with the world - how we got to where we are, and why it must change - as described in the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. It's only a few screens long, so take the time and trouble to read it - it's worth it. Not only is it well written, it is by a 17 year old. Which shows a great level of maturity, intelligence and true understanding of reality in this person.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Growing Up and Changing My View of the World

I read a post at Dan Bartlett's blog the other day (22nd January), and I felt a lot of resonances with what he described. It made me want to say - "Yeah, I know what you mean" - and - "A lot of that sounds like what I went through". Similar, but not identical experiences. Rather than clog Dan's comments page with a long post, I decided to describe my own growing up experience and how my perspective on the world has changed.

Reading Dan's and other people's posts, such as Casemeau's at Living in a Van Down By The River, it made me realise that not only are there other people out there with similar experiences and viewpoints on the world, but that sharing these experiences helps us all. It strengthens my viewpoint on the world by helping me realise that I am not alone. I am not unusual, or weird. There are others who have gone through similar thought processes and come to similar conclusions. And it reminds me that this is a journey worth taking, even if very few other people in modern civilisation can be bothered to go on it too.

Much of what Dan described is similar to what I went through in the UK, but not identical. Even though I am over twice his age, from what he says.

I too liked to read, and discovering the library around 8 or 9 was wonderful. I mainly read science fiction in those days - classic space ranger on Mars, laser guns, and other simple stuff. I wasn't an out and out bookworm, but when there was nothing else to do I would quite happily grab a book and read it. I was escaping to the worlds those books described, so different to the mundane reality that I was living every day.

Up to eleven I wasn't anything special at school, but then when I went to Comprehensive (state secondary education school in the UK) I found I could do the maths and the sciences really well. Not easy peasy, but if I thought about it I could make sense of it, do the homework, and remember it later for exams. I developed a good memory for details, and related information.

Likewise I started to become a perfectionist. Mainly I think due to the maths - there should be one and only one answer, and it must be absolutely correct for the given problem. This continued to haunt me into my first few jobs, until someone explained the concept of "good enough" or "fit for purpose" to me. Literally - "stop when it becomes just good enough for what is needed".

I was, and still am, useless socially. This was a combination of parents who themselves did not socialise, a father who worked shifts and was often not around, and other factors. A move to another town at seven and a half did not help. Losing everything I was familiar with, and being thrust into a new school where everyone knew everyone else, but I knew no one. Who were the good children and who were the bad? How was I to know? Rather than improving my social skills, I just retreated, not knowing what to do.

The other factor was a Catholic upbringing and schooling which included frowning upon relationships with the opposite sex. Being Catholic when no one else in your street is, means that you have two sets of friends - your neighbours in the street you see at weekends and in the summer evenings, and those at school you see for 7 hours a day. But they are completely separate, isolated groups. Anything you do with one group, is unknown to the other group. You cannot share anything with both groups together. You have two independent sets of experiences as you grow up. Anything you do well in one group that earns you some respect, is totally unknown in the other group - as if it never happened. I virtually had two lives, even though I was only one person. I was the same person in both groups, but the context was always different, and I had to be aware of which group I was with and who was who. Again, I ended up switching off and tending to retreat to make things simpler - reacting to situations, rather than creating them. I did make some good friends then though - mainly at school, because you share more of the growing and learning experiences there. But socialising was always very hard work for me.

I literally reached 18 virtually not knowing what to say to a girl, or being able to hold a casual conversation. At parties I just sat there, not knowing what to say or do. Over the years I have developed a number of techniques to compensate for this, so that I can appear to be almost normal. But they are techniques, crutches to get me through awkward moments and out the other side, rather than natural activities for me.

I guess for me the changes in my view of the world happened in a number of steps. First I stopped believing in God around six. I remember being in church (Catholics must go every week!) and doing the same things we always did in mass, and thinking "What does this really mean? Why is it always the same prayers, like robots?" And at that point I decided it was rubbish, and stopped believing. And I've not looked back on that, ever. I didn't tell my parents until I was over 18, just in case they threw a fit. They took it reasonablly well when I did tell them, though my mother was adamant that I would repent one day and come back into the fold.

Later at Comprehensive school, probably 14/15 I started to wonder where all this teaching was leading to. Yes, very nice to know all this stuff, and I was doing really well at the tests and the exams, but what are we going to do with it afterwards? And how does it prepare me for the outside world? And if science is the way to all the answers, why don't we have all the answers? And why is the world such a mess? And why does most science result in weapons used for warfare - nuclear power, rockets, computers (guided missiles), chemicals, etc? Or the exploitation of natural resources? I started to see a detachment between the rosy picture of "learn all this, and you will be okay" and the state of the world itself. Reagan was in power, as was Thatcher, and there was a real standoff going on with Russia. And then Three Mile Island and so on. Science was not the answer.

I kind of chose computing because I was good at maths, and did it at University for a degree. But after my first year I realised that most of the university lecturers were idiots, or at least borderline. Some of them knew their topics really well, but that was all. They couldn't put their stuff into a wider context, or deviate from their fixed material in any way. I realised that they were just regurgitating the same stuff each year for the next set of students. And their "recommendations" about the key subjects and topics to study were really about trying to get you onto their course, irrespective of whether it would ever be really useful for you or not.

So I decided to play the system at its own game. I decided to choose the easier and more interesting courses, whether the topic was "offically important" or not. I also based this decision on how difficult the coursework and exams were. In the next 2 years I was able to chose a much more interesting set of topics, have less coursework and exams, and still come out with the same degree qualification as the other people who had done the awkward courses for the lecturers that really wanted to make them work for their grades. I remember pitying the people who had to write a complete working compiler for their final year coursework, when I had chosen a course where all you had to do was write a paper on any esoteric subject you could come up with. As long as you showed some level of research into your topic you were guaranteed a pass by the lecturer.

Musically I love the Blues. I really do (each to his/her own). But it took me until I was about 25 to get any exposure to it. I quite liked some pop and rock music, but didn't get really excited about it. I could listen to it, but would never want to listen to it all the time. It was a combination of circumstances - the Levis advert that used Muddy Water's "Mannish Boy", and a friend who actually knew some Blues music - that led me to my first Blues album. I'll never forget it - "The Healer" by John Lee Hooker. When I put that album on I was blown away. This was what I liked! This was what I had been waiting for! But why oh why was I so unaware that this type of music existed? In simple terms, because I did not fit into the mainstream, and because I did not react to what was being offered by civilisation like everyone else did i.e. what was being thrown at them by mass advertising.

That's when I seriously started to deviate from the mainstream on everything. If this had been kept hidden from me for 25 years, what else was there out there that I had missed out on? That had been kept secret from me, because civilisation did not want me to know about it, because civilisation could not exploit it.

Like Dan I came across Taoism, but just before I was 30. Somehow I ended up with "The Taoism of Pooh". I started reading it expecting to not understand a bit of it, but having completely the opposite reaction. I remember reading the passages about working in harmony with nature rather than exploiting it, and thinking "Yes, that's exactly my point of view. And it's the opposite of western civilisation." I view Taoism as a philosophy rather than a religion. A way of looking at the world and what it is all about, and putting into a context. That made me realise that other people must have had the same realisations that I had - that civilisation wasn't working, and that it was just plain wrong. Constant greed and expansion was not right. Being content with what you have is.

Most of my life, up to about 30, I had kept going forwards on the premise that there was a place for me within the modern world (civilisation), and all I had to do was find or discover it. I had presumed that school and education and work was about finding your niche within life, and you would get different kinds of help to point you in the right direction, and you would be able to recognise your place based on what you saw in the world around you. If you waited long enough, you would find your place.

My problem though was that I had no reference points. No one could tell me exactly what I should do, and no one would introduce me to other people that seemed the same as me. This is civilisation - if you don't conform to what we want, then we don't care about you. You are basically abandoned by civilisation, and must find what is right for you yourself.

It's taken me many years to reach the conclusion that there is no 'right' place for me within civilisation, because I don't want the same things as civilisation does. I am not greedy and do not want lots of money, material things, recognition and power. At most I want a decent job, decent pay, the feeling of doing something worthwhile, and freedom to do what I want the rest of the time.

But that's not what civilisation wants. Civilisation today is really all just a collection of companies. Strange how a collection of people doing work has now become a legal entity, with its own separate existence and rights of its own upheld in law. Companies want to know what you can do for them, so that they can make even more money. And as I put myself first and the company second, I don't get picked for the top jobs or promotion. But then I don't want those top jobs or the promotion and the greater responsibility and longer hours anyway.

And that's where I am now.