– can you tell the difference…


… between what is real, and not?

As most of you know by now my life has been (for some time) dedicated to honing away at cultural convention in order to make it possible for me to enjoy more freedom/ better health/ and a heightened awareness of the natural world around me.

For some this could be considered a spiritual journey, though to be totally honest, for the most part, it was fate presenting a series of choices and this is where I ended up.  Had it been in any way intentional the road would have been a lot faster, and with a lot less of the very painful moments.

One of the things we gave up first (27 years ago) was our addiction to television, followed by newspapers, then finally radio.  Internet arrived only when our income had dropped so much we couldn’t afford it and has stayed that way, our use therefore has been mostly for communication with friends (and now to sell the house), rather than keeping up with current affairs, limited as always by whenever a wi-fi hotspot could be found.

This, along with severing a connection to the utilities, plus all those facilities they allow, has meant that gradually one’s outlook has begun to shift.  What was before considered important or necessary has since proved not to be the case.  Another change has been the cultural one.  It may seem odd to many reading this, but other countries are not like the UK.  For example, in some of the extremely rural places we’ve lived it has felt more like going back in time at least a hundred years.  And here in Almonaster la Real, currently, daily life is still very similar to when I was growing up in the 1950/60s.

I’ve never been back to the UK since we left in 2000, so can’t begin to imagine how much things have changed, but thanks to a friend who shares my love of good graphic design and keeps me supplied with copies of their local What’s On magazine, I have probably a good rough idea.

Entitled VIVA LEWES, this monthly printed magazine contains over 100 full colour pages filled with cultural information, delivered free to its catchment area, highlighting the life and culture of Lewes in East Sussex.

And admittedly from this alone, I now make the following observations, about how I see the world (which for the purposes of this exercise we will call reality), and how the rest perceive it.

I believe the most important thing anyone can do is appreciate and respect everything natural around us, and accept that all life has an equal right to exist.

Those who don’t, think are of the opinion that:

– money alone buys exclusivity, happiness, health, and everything else.

– life today is better than ever before.

– voting makes a difference.

– gardens/ parks/ and wildlife sanctuaries are part of nature.

– eating meat/ fish/ dairy/ eggs is god-given.

– sustainablilty can be bought.

– statistics are always what they claim.

– there is a god.

– education and working is a necessity.

– childbirth is our right.

Nor am I alone in thinking like this.  Peter Wessel Zapffe (1899–1990) put it into context.  That we have become a biological paradox, a species destined for extinction, because we have allowed our consciousness to over-evolve, thereby making us incapable of appreciating true reality and so function like all other animals.  For example, we are the only species aware of its destiny to die and who has shackled itself with this fear.  Capable of analysing the past, and from that predicting a future, which has always led to catastrophic results.  Expecting justice and meaning, where neither occur.

Human existence has become such a tangled network of defence mechanisms and unsatisfied desires it can no longer see what is real or not.

All negative thoughts and feelings associated with unpleasant facts about our existence are repressed.  In daily life, this manifests as a tacit agreement to remain silent on certain subjects – especially around children, to prevent instilling in them a fear of the world and what awaits them in life, before they will be able to learn other mechanisms.

We create and use personal values in order to avoid facing reality, such as: parents/ home/ the street/ school/ God/ the church/ the State/ morality/ fate/ the law of life/ the people/ the future/ accumulation of material goods or authority, etc.

We shift focus to flee from circumstances and ideas we consider harmful or unpleasant.

We refocus the tragic parts of life into something creative or valuable, usually through an aesthetic confrontation for the purpose of catharsis.

We focus on the imaginary, dramatic, heroic, lyric or comic aspects of life, to allow ourselves and others an escape from their true impact.

As David Benatar points out, if we are so happy, so evolved and advance, how come we allow:

– approximately 20,000 (people) to die every day from hunger.

– an estimated 840 million to suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

– 11 million to die (every year) from human-transmitted diseases.

– malignant neoplasms take more than a further 7 million each year.

– approximately 3.5 million to die in “accidents” every year.

– in the first 88 years of the twentieth century 170 million (and possibly as many as 360 million) people to be shot/ beaten/ tortured/ knifed/ burned/ starved/ frozen/ crushed/ worked to death/ buried alive/ drowned/ hanged/ bombed/ or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed helpless citizens and foreigners.

– 109.7 million conflict-related deaths in the twentieth century.

– about 40 million children to be maltreated each year.

– more than 100 million women and girls (alive now) subject to genital cutting.

– 815,000 commit suicide each year.

Also how do we justify billions, if not trillions (figures do not exist for China), of non-human animals being abused and slaughtered each year, just so we can eat their meat/ use them for making other pointless products/ for experimentation, and afterwards when they are no longer needed/ because we continue to take and destroy their habitats/ or from other environmental damage we have created/ and of course, for our sadistic pleasure.

Which reality do you prefer?

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