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The Act of Living as the Meaning of Life

“There is only one meaning of life: the act of living it,” wrote German psychologist and social theorist Erich Fromm in 1941.[1]

Some find meaning in their work, in travel, in writing, in loving, in obeying a religion, in creating babies—all of which are different acts of living. The meaning of life (a noun) is in the process of living (a verb).

This points to a fundamental shift from that of a static goal, to a dynamic experience.

In this view one does not put off the rewards of life, for example, gearing one’s life toward retirement, as when one reaches that place it will ultimately be empty.

Nor does one live life only for the moment. If it were, many of us would be drunkards, or obese. If one is so narrow visioned to only care about the fickle “now”, why would we exercise, wear sunscreen, study, make babies, or invest time to any form of creative endevour?

It’s easy to get caught up in some some long term goal, so busy watching the clock and working working working, that we forget to enjoy the process.

It’s also easy to get so caught up in the “now” that years pass and you have nothing to show for it.

The act of living involves a both the successive moments of “now”, and the consequential moments of “later”. Happiness, it seems to me, comes from a healthy medium between pleasure and sacrifice—some experienced now, and some in the years to come.

The meaning of life (noun) is in the living (verb), not in some ultimate end. While we live on a swords edge been our past and future, act of living is more than a series of moments. It is what we do with those moments, and the mark they make on others, that really counts.


[1] Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom; (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1969). p. 261.

[2] By Frank Gosebruch (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Willowy and Wanting


Willowy and wanting

to experiment

by stretching to the time

of high expectations,

which the contented and closed

would never wish to see,

you are a beautiful model

of curious discontent

who like a magnet draws

the lively and the lustful.


Willowy and wanting

to realize the promise

of so many customs,

you mix the ingredients

of epicureans and hedonists,

cartwheel through life’s carnivals

yet know the need

to trim the sails,

feel for the wind

and tack towards the still harbour.


Willowy and wanting

to resist the claims

of those who might insist

that security begets success,

you show the philosopher’s touchstone –

the humour of humanity

the colours of your choosing

and each day your giving

an indispensable

spontaneity in kissing and hugging.


Such a reward to laugh with you

and what a fortune

for those who love you !


by Stuart Rees

A tribute to your 30th from the Norwegian coast… for July 6th, 2012.



See more of Stuart Rees poems on the Sydney Peace Foundation website – click here.

The gap between school and real-life

Does school prepare us for life in the real world? Is knowledge passed from academia to public spheres? Are we learning from the past, or do we continue to make the same mistakes? How well do we really understand ourselves and others in our geopolitical, social, and historical context?

It seems to me there are major gaps within our distribution of knowledge.

Today I want to focus on one of those gaps, the gap between life in school and life after school. Over the coming weeks I will look at other gaps, and then at ways they might bridged.

Schooling in Australia comes down to one result: the HSC. (For non-Australian readers, HSC = Higher School Certificate)

This seemingly life-determining series of exams is ridiculously stressful for students. Suicide, chronic fatigue and depression are among many of the disasterous mental and physical consequences.

After the HSC I have noticed that many students are left feeling high and dry.

The choices may seem too many, or too few, but either way many (including myself ten years ago) feel confused about what to do next. I mean, how many 17 year olds know what they want to do when they leave school? And of those who at the time thought they know, how many look back ten years later and realise that, well, they didn’t?

Whether motivated by guidance from friends, siblings or parents, by money-incentives, or some other not-very-well thought through reasoning, many of us go straight into university and waste 1-3 years doing, or starting to do, a degree in something irrelevant to our future.

Even if we are one of the new generation of Aussies who head overseas for a ‘gap year,’, most return home to face the same dilemma that they faced when they left: they still don’t ‘know what they want to do when they grow up.

So the next stage of the majority’s life story ends up either drinking at university parties as they go to minimal classes to earn that obligatory piece of paper; or working a 9-5 job answering phones, waiting tables, or driving trucks, in order to pay off the credit card or HECS debt.

Maybe things have improved in the eight years since I finished school, or maybe the non-denominational (a la fundamentalist) Christian school I attended was an exception? If so please do point out my errs.

From my observation the gap between finishing high school and finding one’s role in society is a widely felt phenomenon in Australia, and maybe among other western-capitalist countries too.

Through trail and error of various degrees and jobs I have discovered many career options that at high school I never knew existed. Why didn’t I know about these things???

I think the problem with our schools comes down to one thing: The Pyramid. (See blog entry: Preserving-The-Pyramid-The-Reason-Things-Are-The-Way-They-Are).

Instead of encouraging a thirst for knowledge and the intrinsic rewards that comes from creativity, our schools seem to encourage a regurgitating of words and formulas in order to gain the extrinsic rewards of good marks, good university & eventually a good salary.

All of this so that you can pay back your university debts, get a mortgage and work towards the Australian Dream: owning your own house.

Translation: join the system, perpetuate The Pyramid.

Those who control the distribution of knowledge, controls the minds of the people.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing against The Pyramid. Unless I have some visionary solution to power paradoxes of the human condition I don’t feel I am in a place to criticise.  The Pyramid might be the only way a society functions, so maybe our education system is the best it can be.

So let’s put The Pyramid in the parking lot for a moment. How could these gaps in education, should The Pyramid allow it, be bridged? These are some suggestions:

1. Empower children to think for themselves.

I think children could be more involved in the direction of their learning (as in Montessori schools). I think the focus should be on teaching them how to think rather than what to think, helping them develop the critical thinking skills that allow them to do this.

2. Encourage a desire to learn rather than presenting it as an obligatory task.

Learning shouldn’t be something forced upon you. It seems so negative that a child is told they have to do their homework or else get in trouble from the teacher.

Instead, learning should be presented as the luxury it is. It should be presented as the passing on of the cumulated knowledge of humanity, with which it is up to the students to expand and build upon during their lifetime.

Isn’t that a much more exciting proposition than punishment/reward scenarios of learning just to get good grades?

3. Value creativity over conformity

Learning opens up the gates for a child’s imagination, for them to discover their individual potential. Learning makes people more interesting, gives people a better sense of humour, and enhances one’s quality of life in ways that money can’t.

Creativity is a source of pleasure and purpose, but it requires children’s confidence in themselves – getting over the fear of peers, parents or teachers rejecting or ridiculing what they create.

4. Teach more practical & useful skills.

Decision making, goal setting, managing savings, investing in shares or property, avoiding accumulation of debts, solving conflicts, understanding politics and democracy, and the history of civilisation on the whole.

Why don’t schools teach students a general introduction to university disciplines including philosophy, theology, development studies, anthropology, peace studies, and the like?

5. Notify students that the roles that society defines are not the only roles. They can create their own role, their own box.

Students should be provided with a broad perspective of their place in the world, be able to see their perspective in the scheme of other people’s perspectives, and see the similarities and see what factors have influenced the differences. We can’t know everything, but we can develop an understanding of the general areas knowledge or skills that are available, and with an understanding that new areas of knowledge and skills are created every day.

Students should be given the opportunity to find jobs that they will enjoy, that are not a means to an ends but are a day-to-day source of personal growth and giving back to society.

Maybe I’m too idealistic. Yes, I’m sure I am.

I do understand that someone has to take out the trash…

Of course in my mind this is done by computerised machinery, all trash is biofriendly and so even this job is maintained by creative-thinking programmers.

I think if we were encouraged to have a desire to learn, an ability to critically evaluate our world, and to think creatively, we as a society would evolve in the most incredible ways.

Creativity, motivation and critical awareness have the potential to stimulate innovation to new levels, foster ongoing improvement in all areas of life, from local to global and beyond.

Check out what Ken Robinson has to say on the issue in the TED talk “schools kill creativity”:


Ah yes, if only the world could be recreated by creative minds…


With some other idealistic visionaries including Dr Vandana Shiva, winner of the Sydney Peace Prize 2010.


If you want to follow this blog on facebook, the facebook page is:!/pages/Adventures-with-Ideas-Juliet-Bennetts-Blog/108739765813581

Preserving “The Pyramid” – the reason things are the way they are…

“Things are the way they are because they have been designed to be this way,” a friend of mine said. “It’s all about preserving The Pyramid.”

What’s The Pyramid? Let me tell you…

“The Pyramid” (according to my friend) is a method of social, economic and political organisation that is at the core of every human civilisation from the Egyptians to Hindus to Monarchies to Capitalism.

All the big political conflicts come down to one thing: The Pyramid.

Conflicts are either initiated by people on top pulling strings to preserve or expand the present Pyramid; or conflicts are initiated by revolutionaries who disagree with the structure and seek to turn The Pyramid up-side-down.

As I thought through history, I realised my friend was right. The English and Spanish Conquest of the Americas, India, China… We seize land to expand our pyramid. We seize resources to secure our pyramid. We take down any leaders who don’t agree to it’s rules. We call anyone who challenges the Pyramid a “terrorist” and “national threat”. Why? Because they really are a threat to this hierarchy – and the people at the top do not like that.

From the Egyptians:

To the Hindu caste system:

To Capitalism today…

Globalisation has seen the pyramids of once isolated civilisations join together to create an even bigger pyramid. And as the upper and middle class grows, so does the lower class, hence as our global population rapidly expands, so does The Pyramid. The rich get richer as  the poor get poorer.

In the global pyramid, the top 0.5 billion earning over $20,000 a year (of which many earn far more, and a small number earning far far more than that) while 60% of the world’s population live on less than $2 a day.

The pyramid of wealth distribution looked at in another way shows the top 1% taking 2/3rds of the US national income…

How is such inequality allowed to persist?

Through a carefully constructed system that involves a “social distribution of knowledge” [1]. We educate some (the children of the monetarily rich) to make the system work for them, and educate others (the children of the not-so-money-rich) to work for the system.

Those in power know the formula: give people a reason to live (eg through career path or religion or an ideology) and educate them enough for their societal roles. No more, no less.

The system teaches people to obey authority, not to question it. It encourages conformity, a docile acceptance of the status quo.

According to my friend’s theory, all the “evils” of the world are there for a reason: to maintain The Pyramid. This includes:

  • Poverty is there because a massive base is needed to support the weight of the top.
  • War is there because it secures the resources required to make weapons and keep the system running as those at the top require.
  • Lack-of-education is there because in the social distribution of knowledge, not everyone needs to know stuff. All you need to know is what your role requires you to know, no more, no less.
  • Religion is there because it gives people a purpose. It explains the unknowns, it controls the masses, and it gives people hope for a better life next time round – be it up in heaven or in one’s reincarnation.
  • Debt is there because it contracts a permanent slave of those people and countries who work to repay it.

The destructive cycle is this: (1) as we seek to join the upper class  or move up the middle classes (a good thing), we inadvertently (2) increase the lower class – not such a good thing if this means 12 hour work days behind a sewing machine. Then, (3) as the base of the pyramid increases, so does poverty (families have less food and less land to provide), and (4) as poverty increases, education decreases and people have more babies, causing (5) the global population continues to explode and (6) as the earth’s resources recede it seems inevitable that, at some point in the future, billions of people’s lives  are going to be lost.

Should we challenge The Pyramid? Maybe. But to be honest I’m not sure that we can.

What happens when someone challenges the authority of The Pyramid? They get taken down. Just look what they are doing to Julian Assange!

History has shown Animal Farm scenarios time and time again: revolution upon revolution. When oppressive humans are kicked off the planet and animals declare themselves equal, it’s only a matter of time before pigs (or some other animal) will rise up and become the new oppressor.

The Pyramid has been torn down and built back up by a numerous groups who then take the place of the new rich and powerful. Whoever wins the battle replicates the model’s inequalities, and rewrites history to produce a new “social distribution of knowledge.” It’s an endless cycle.

Geez this is depressing. Where’s my Christmas spirit? Don’t get me started on Christmas… the capitalistic “Christian” tradition that is based on a pagan holiday inadvertently idolizing the “God” that declared “He” never wanted to be idolised. Ah sorry, I shouldn’t write it off like this. It is a lovely family time. I’ll try to uplift my words from here on…

If we can’t fight The Pyramid, should we embrace it? Maybe. Maybe there are ways of making it work without the above evils, I’m not sure.

Is inequality ok? Maybe. It’s impossible for everyone to be equal. And unappealing – diversity makes the world a more interesting place. And whose to say that the rich people are “rich”? Are those at the top of the pyramid “better off” than the people at the bottom? Life can be pretty boring if you have everything without the challenge. The poor might be much richer in different ways…

But it can’t be denied that it’s pretty shit that two-thirds of the world have no place to shit.

Maybe it’s best to live one’s life somewhere in the middle. Probably myself and most of you think of ourselves as somewhere in the middle (although earning more than $20k pa places us in the upper).

Even in the top segment of the pyramid if you have a mortgage and particularly if you have children, then choices become even more limited – we are culturally molded to work for the system. I wonder how many people at the very very top of The Pyramid are even consciously aware that they are creating or perpetuating it?

Is there anything wrong with being a cog in this wheel? No. I guess not – as long as you are happy. What if this happiness is just an illusion? Maybe living in an illusion is the best place to be. Should we be putting our efforts into finding ways to make the pyramid work for us? Maybe. But maybe not. Alternatives may exist, I’m not yet sure.

In sum, things are the way they are because they have been designed this way. Poverty, religion, education systems, health-related issues – all of our problems are (at least in part) designed to serve the powerful and preserve The Pyramid. If you want to address these problems in a way that is real and sustainable, then it will be useful for you to consider the power hierarchies within The Pyramid, and engage with those in decision-making positions to make changes toward more just institutions and hence a more just world.

When my friend first shared this theory I protested, now I’m coming around.

More on The Pyramid? Check out the sequel blog post Rethinking “The Pyramid” – do alternatives exist? and blog entries tagged “The Pyramid“.


I have a habit of grabbing pictures off Google Images and not recording the copyrights… if anyone would like me to acknowledge their work where I haven’t please do let me know.


[1] The Social Construction of Reality, Berger and Luckmann 1966


Mapping out religious beliefs and learning to think

I drew this up flowchart / map of religious beliefs about three years ago. I agree with this quote in part. Thinking can be terrifying. At the time I drew up this map I was at the beginning of an emotional process of learning to think – discovering where the worldview of my upbringing fit with the worldview of other people’s upbringing.

Can you see where your beliefs fit?

There seems to be an endless list of ism’s. Have I missed yours? If I’ve missed any to do with key categories of beliefs about the universe then please let me know so I can add it.

It was during this process of surfing wikipedia and exploring different ism’s that I first came across “Panentheism” (from Greek πᾶν (pân) “all“; ἐν (en) “in“; and θεός (theós) “God“; “all-in-God”) – the idea that everything is in that which we call “God” is different from “Pantheism” (πᾶν (pân) “all“; θεός (theós) “God“; “all-is-God”) which equates The Universe or Nature to “God”.

I like the idea of Panentheism so much that I’m now writing a thesis on it.

I like of pantheism too but seeing as we will never know what lies beyond what we know (until we know it) I cannot see a reason to keep the doors of our imagination open for what might exist beyond our universe. For example, the energies/macrososm we call “God” could encompass a universe of universes, or even a universe of universes of universes… we will never know. Ok, now I’ve lost myself.

I guess this is flowchart is the basis of a number of entries that I will post as I research Panentheism and Process Theology (the idea that everything is a process, an event, that nothing (even “you”) is ever a static “thing”). And by combining these ideas with what I told you about the other day – Narratology (the study of narratives) – I hope to see where and how these different ism’s may actually meet, differing mainly in the historical context that the words, images and stories that describe their beliefs developed.

“ISM” means adherence to an ideology.

Ideology refers to ideas that constitute a person’s goals, expectations and actions – what makes up a person’s view of the world.

My hypothesis is that all the above ideologies might actually meet each other in the idea of Panentheism.

That is, I think that everyone – atheists, agnostics, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, new-age people, etc. etc. – are panentheists, they just don’t know it yet.

What would this mean? Well, maybe if we see that our ideologies are talking about the same thing, it will be harder for our identities to get caught up in them. And seeing as misuse of identity-driven ideologies is a major cause of violence, from terrorism to intolerance, maybe some forms of violence will discover a peaceful resolution.

Of course a lot of people will disagree – which is the fun of having a hypothesis and exploring it.

Maybe I will like my conclusions, maybe I won’t, but it is in the process of thinking and exploring that I expect I will learn and grow and get even just a little bit closer to “truth”.

So somewhere in the intersection of philosophy, religion, and science, I have over the last few blog entries, attempted to introduce the narrative-oriented research project that I suppose will (after many years, if not my entire life), be my magnum opus.

Anyway, I’ve spent enough entries telling you what I want to do… now I have to figure out how I’m going to do it.

Any research project (at least any academic research project), starts with a “literature review”. The objective is to learn who has had similar thoughts in the past, what influenced their ideas, how their ideas evolved, how their ideas influenced other people’s ideas, (and so on and so on), and observing what practical actions have come from it.

As a friend said to me the other day, “There are no new ideas… just new applications of old ones. It’s how ideas are used that matters.” Hopefully whether or not we like the conclusions of our thinking, our ideas will be used in ways we can be proud of.


Taken at a cafe I often walk past on my way to work – it always has these cool little quotes so sometimes I stand there feeling a little silly taking a photo of it with my phone.

What makes more sense?

What makes more sense?

1. That God selected ONE species to be his “chosen” species, abandoning all His other creations to nothingness.
2. That God values ALL of his creations. The idea that humans are the only creations with souls, is a narrative created by humans not God.

What makes more sense?

1. That God selected ONE group of people to be His “chosen people, to help them conquer other groups of people (as long as they obeyed Him) and to punish all other people in the world who strive to discover Him and His will.
2. That this group of people crowned themselves God’s chosen people, and that in times where these people won battles they believed it was because of their obedience to God, while in times of trouble their scapegoat was to disobedience to God.

What makes more sense?

1. That the world was created in 6 days, 6,000 years ago, by a God who is an entity separate from the world, that watches the world from afar. And yet is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent?
2. That some component of the universe has always existed, and this has be personified as God. That the universe is, like the breath of God, currently expanding, and one day it will compress back to a single quantum atom at which time the process of expansion will start again. That the process of creation, destruction and recreation never ends, hence presenting the beautiful process and nature of “God”. A never-ending process of yin and yang, good and evil, diametrical opposites that allow us, (and God) to know the other.

What makes more sense?

1. That carbon and other dating methods are inaccurate by millions/billions of years, that evolution is incorrect, and that the 30,000-year history of the aborigines is a complete fabrication.
2. That the biblical account of Genesis is, like many other (very similar) creation stories about human beings that lived between 5-2000 years ago, a mythological symbolic account that explained the origins of life in a non-literal sense.

What makes more sense?

1. That God selected one point in time, that is, 2000 years ago, to impregnate a human woman to bare His one son, who is also an incarnation of Himself, in order to save humanity and provide an opportunity for people born lucky enough to hear this story, to have a relationship with Him. That this path to heaven does not come through how people live their lives, but they come from His “grace” that allows “anyone who believes in Him” – and the biblically narratated account of His divine Son dying on a cross and physically rising again for my, or your, sin, can have a relationship with God and go to heaven when they die.
2. That God would love ALL the human (and non-human) beings He created and continues and will always continue to create over billions and zillions of years – before our universe’s beginning, and after it will end. That each group of people, through myriad circumstances, have developed a unique relationship with “Him” (referring to a personification of what is not human nor of any gender), discovering different aspects of the macrocosmic, omnipotent, omnipresent entity to which we are all a part of.

What makes more sense?

1. That all the Mayans and Incas in South America, the Aborigines in Australia, the Chinese, Japanese, Indians – all the people that were born into other cultures and see the world through a different lens that they have been brought up in, people who believe they have a relashionship with God – are actually wrong and are worshiping false gods, and hence will go to hell unless they repent and abandon the beliefs of their ancestors, and believe in the Christian God and Jesus Christ His son.


2. That none of these religions have discovered the whole of who (or what) “God” is? 

Is it possible that by exploring each tradition in it’s historical context, alongside the ongoing scientific and astronomical discoveries, that we can together continue to uncover more about the nature of the powers driving the universe?

What makes more sense?

1. That one simple story behind every incredible complexity that this world has to offer, was magically captured in One Holy Book, which was gathered, translated and interpreted without any human political motivations entering the decision process.


2. That all Holy Books contain historical complexities surrounding the “truth”, “myth”, “Midrash”, myriad political intentions, and mis-translations, and that they as much as one strives to discover the “Truth” in it, there will always be different interpretations, and mis-interpretations of passages when taken outside their original language and context.

What makes more sense?

1. That God created such a narrative of the battle of good vs evil, of creation 6000 years ago, of one saviour in one part of the world 2000 years ago – all so that He can still continue to choose who He wants to hear this narrative, who He will reveal Himself to and have a relationship with…
2. That man made up this narrative over thousands of years of a developing human consciousness, evolving moralities, political motivations, desires to know where we came from, to feel special, to deal with the inequalities and injustices in life, to provide hope of justice and eternal life, and to provide a grand-narrative of purpose and rid sense of emptiness and meaningless.

What makes more sense?

1. That Jesus is a “liar, lunatic, or Lord.”


2. That the Bible contains some flaws.

There are many alternative scenarios than Jesus being a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. This manipulative argument is based on the presumption that everything in the Bible is literally true – a presumption to which any thinking person can see is an biased argument. Even if you allow for evidence from within this paradigm, does the bible claim not to contain mythos? Does it claim to contain no error? Even if God inspired the words, through translations and interpretations you can be guaranteed there are errors (and in other writings I have listed but a few of the many).

Think about it – couldn’t the virgin birth and rising from dead have a deep symbolic meaning without literally being true. Could these parts have been added when, after Jesus’ death his teachings were being transformed into a Jewish social revolution and then a religion taken to the Roman pagans? The fact that many pagan gods were born of a virgin died and rose from the dead, for example Ishtar from who Easter is based upon, infers that this scenario is a highly reasonable one to consider. Could Jesus be a prophet, a fantastic example of how we can know God? Could he be a mythical legend inspired by a number of heroic social and spiritual revolutionaries at the time? Maybe.

What makes more sense?

1. That God used various men to write, edit, collate, translate and interpret the Bible – exactly the way that He wanted it to be done – bridging the language and cultural barriers as if everyone understands everything the way he intended.
2. That men wrote the books of the Bible, feeling inspired by God but remaining human and hence fallible. In the version of events and “facts” that they had access to, open to political interference, additions and manipulation, open to errors in translation and open to much debate over various ways to interpret the words in different circumstances that the rader finds themselves?

Debates over the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity… and existence of so many contradicting divisions of Christianity demonstrates the openness for such a human filtering process.
Jesus was an incarnation of God himself, and simultameously God’s one and only Son, and that a belief in this God-Man’s special birth, life’s teachings, humiliating and horrifying death, miraculous resurrection and incomprehensible ascension in to the earth’s atmosphere (to where-ver Heaven supposedly is located in the sky)

What makes more sense?

1. That one groups are the rare lucky people that God has chosen to be provided with the particular circumstances that lead us to the “right’ religion – the “right’ relationship with God through the belief in the “right” interpretation of history and historical writings.
2. That  humans of a particular culture and particular period made up the exclusiveness side of this story, that writings were manipulated so that the powerful could control the masses.

Might all religions record the experiences of various people with the great divine power, not with “other fake gods”? Is it possible that we do not know everything there is to know about God? Doesn’t God have a right to interact with different people however he wants to? Is it possible that by saying that God chose us and not people in Australia 500-years ago, that we are the ones playing God? Who are we to say what God is thinking, planning and choosing? Who are we to interpret a book out of their written context, and applying it to different cultures within this globalised society where such an attitude can have a rippling violent effect? Might it be better to let God be God, and us humans be humans? Might we be better to keep open toward all the humans of the world and seek to discover everything we can about the historical relationships between non-Western humans and God?

Does it really make sense that people in other cultures, whose circumstances have led them to belief Jesus was a human and not a God-incarnate – are sent to hell by no fault of their own? Why – if there is one God, and people in other cultures, and people who have lived for thousands of years seeking God within these cultures -would God reject them and accord that only one culture of people in one period of time, will have the correct story.

What makes more sense?

1. That life is a battle between good and evil, that people who choose to do evil will be punished in hell – an afterlife of eternal suffering.
2. That those who do good in the world largely to so due to their life experiences, and that whots who do “evil” do so as a consequence of theirs?

Those who steal do so because they can’t afford to eat, or maybe because of an addiction to a drug they have developed due to a parent dying when they are young, or maybe just because they have been brought up with the overtly materialistic dreams that they hence believe will make them happy, even if it means harming other sto get there. Those who murder often do so because their psychy is completely fucked up by whatever circumstances they have withstood in their lifetime. Our definition of good, bad, and justice, and our knowledge about how to move toward peace, is an ever-evolving process. As our knowledge grows it may not mean wemove toward it however could it be structural circumstances that lead this to be?

In summary, think about these questions:

  • Why would God create populations of people for thousands of years before Jesus, on  unreachable areas of the world, eg the Australian Aborigines, only to send them to hell?
  • Is it more likely that God chose one group of people, or that they crowned this title to themselves?
  • Don’t you think that God would be powerful enough to love us without having to come to earth in human form so that he could forgive us? If you are all powerful, can’t you just forgive without people pleading for that forgiveness? Can’t you be happy with your achievements without needing someone else’s applaud?
  • What is more likely: God incarnated Himself as a human ONCE in the whole history of the universe, or that God incarnates Himself in each and every one of us, and in every life orm, every cell and every quantum atom that makes up our universe?
  • What is more likely: Jesus was a God-incarnation who three days after laying dead, rose back to life, and ascended into the earth’s atmosphere to wherever heaven exists up there; or that the supernatural parts of this story are reflections of the Roman pagan influence, additions to the story of Jesus that occurred in between Jesus’ death and the writings of the gospels?

Think about the complexities that surround us: the nature of life, humanity, consciousness, the connections between us and the micro and macro world that surrounds us… how can we uncover more about how we got to where we are, why, and where we are going from here?

Via a collective exploration it would seem that we might be able to get closer to knowing “God”, discovering more about “His” nature (taking “him” as a personification for the laws of nature), learning about how He created us, what He wants for us to do with this understanding and with our live (which I think is the same as Him discovering these things about Himself).

If not an absolute and elitist Christian God, then what???

To answer this question I think it is useful to return to the question: Who, or what is “God”??? Click here for some blog entries on this topic.

This process of questioning isn’t easy. It not only takes a lot of time. It can involve a roller coaster of emotions. It can cause conflict within yourself, as you question the roots of how you understand the world. It can cause conflict within social groups, even between you and family members. For me it was all these things. And so here, in hope of easing the pain of anyone else that might be facing the same dilemma, I documented my question and answers, and I offer it to you in this book I wrote in 2007-8: Journey of an Intuitive Christian


Leftist idealist or right-wing conservative?

Have you noticed the reoccurring pattern of almost hypocritical contradictions contained in my most recent entries? There seems to be a battle going on inside my mind:a battle between my leftist idealistic side (a perspective largely shared at  the peace conference) that seems to abruptly clash with my more right-wing conservative side (a result of my experiences in India).

I care about people. I care about those who live in unsanitary conditions, those who suffer from war, from hunger, from all forms of slavery – be it economic slavery sitting in front of a sewing machine 12 hours a day, physical slavery forced and whipped to pick cocoa beans without a drop of pay, sexual slavery, or mental slavery.

I care about animals. I don’t like they are our slaves, pumping out our eggs, milk, and that they are bred and killed for my meat. Yet I am not a vegetarian.

I care about our planet. I don’t like that my car pollutes it. I don’t like that the plastic packaging of my products is toxic to it. I don’t like that humanity is chopping down its trees for my paper and digging up its insides for my electricity. Yet I still drive a car, buy too many products, use too much paper, and too much electricity.

I want every life-form to reach it’s full potential and yet I kill ants without a second thought and I am okay with abortion (believing the woman should have a choice over and above the not-yet-conscious entity forming inside her).

I believe in human rights yet I support population control – something has to be done.

I don’t think of different races as “better” or smarter than others, yet I don’t particularly want to see the whole world dominated by one or two of them.

I want to let all the asylum seekers into Australia, but I also don’t like feeling I’m a minority in my own city (the other day I swear I was the only caucasian-Australian walking down George Street in Sydney.)

I want Australia to pull troops out of the war, actually I want all the wars to end, but I don’t complain about the cheap oil and security that comes from their actions.

I am generous but I am greedy. I want everyone to have somewhere like Australia to live, but I don’t want everyone to live in Australia.

In short, I want my cake, and I want to eat it too. And I don’t quite know what to do about it.

The world is a game of chess

“War is like a chess game – operated by a few key people, everyone else doing what they are told.” “In war, who is the real enemy? The real enemy is war itself.” War is “preserving democracy, not practicing it.” Crimson Tide

I was talking with some army boys at a party on the weekend. You know, a casual debate about whether or not Saddam Hussain and Osama Bin Laden were once on the CIA payroll. Academic Scholarship vs Military Intelligence. Justice vs Defence. Peace vs Violence. It got just a little bit heated.

It’s crazy when you live in a world where you don’t know which source you can trust. My source was Jeffrey Sachs, a world-renowned professor from Columbia University in New York. Sachs says the US has:

‘thrown elections though secret CIA financing, put foreign leaders on CIA payrolls, and supported violent leaders who then came back to haunt the United States in a notorious boomerang or “blowback” effect (including Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, both once on the CIA payroll).’[1]

Sach also summarises the historically ‘notorious acts of U.S. unilateralism’ including:

‘The CIA-led overthrows of several governments (Iran, Guyana, Guatemala, South Vietnam, Chile), the assassinations of countless foreign officials, and several disastrous unilateral acts of war (in Central America, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Iraq).[2]

But hey, I suppose even world-renowned scholars may not have access to the same kind of army intelligence… I guess there is no way to know… So much for democracy…

What I really got out of this conversation was a reminder of the widespread approach to world relations that is not unlike a massive game of chess. A couple of powerful humans move groups of humans and weapons in a zero-sum game where the winner gets the oil, power and the money, and the loser and loser’s pieces, become the winner’s slaves.

Thousands of American troops are placed on bases in all the pivotal positions around the world. Massive little American states with thousands of troops and their wives and children, complete with schools, churches and shopping malls. I visited a couple in Japan as my boyfriend at the time was playing gaijin rugby matches there. It was like a mini trip home besides the very disappointing discovery that an American BBQ is nothing like an Aussie one (think McDonald “beef” patties on white starchy buns)…

Oops I got side-tracked. Back to the chess game.

So what I realised (and somehow remembered through my hangover the next day), is that these military bases and weapons, are positioned and used to manipulate the world however those in power so desire. They can use weapons to block off a channel between two countries and prevent their trade. They can use weapons to overpower governments who do not cooperate with their requests. Weapons are power. Money is power. And at the moment the power is on our side.

When looking at the world through a defense-oriented lens it is hard to imagine a world not dominated by subjugation and violence. It’s America’s turn to win a few games, with their pieces (including people in other western countries) the beneficiaries. Does it matter if Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were on the CIA payroll (which really truly the academic world believes to be so)? Does it matter if our governments initiate wars solely to secure oil (and hence weapons and power) and other resources (including human labour)? Would we westerners want it any other way? You see, if our governments do not support these conflicts, our luxurious western lifestyles (complete with stressful jobs, debts, and the perpetual dissatisfaction that materialism and capital acquisition brings) will be under threat. Believe it or not it in a capitalist world it is the consumers and capital acquisitionists who hold the power (if you have a bank account and own a computer, this includes you) – so we must ask ourselves: WHAT DO WE WANT???

Or forget it. Never mind. It’s only the hardest question in the world to answer… maybe it’s better not to think about it.

Playing by the rules of this game, I can imagine that before long China will have improved their chess-playing skills and take over as champion, with America becoming loser and westerners the world’s new slaves. In a world based on power and violence, this is a zero-sum game with winners and losers. So enjoy either we enjoy it while we are on top and await the tables to turn, or??? … Maybe, just maybe, is it possible to change the rules of the game?

I think so, and I’m going to my thoughts on that with you tomorrow.


[1] Jeffrey Sachs, Common Wealth : Economics for a Crowded Planet (London: Allen Lane, 2008). p. 12.

[2] Jeffrey Sachs, Common Wealth : Economics for a Crowded Planet (London: Allen Lane, 2008). pp. 11-12.

Picture credits:

Again one I found on my computer – if anyone knows it’s source please let me know.

Empowering women & the role of men

Empowering women has been said to be the “silver bullet” to ending poverty.

Studies have shown that an increase in the income of women directly correlates with increases in the education and nutrition of children. These children will lead longer and more fulfilling lives, and an upward spiral will begin as they can provide better education and nutrition to their children.

Increases in the income of men have no correlation with children’s education and nutrition, but instead correlate with increases in spending on drugs and alcohol. This is a very sad picture to paint… and I wonder why this is the case?

I suppose the unchangeable fact that men can’t physically give birth could have something to do with it however I do not think this means that fathers are innately less caring about their children than mothers. A child is half the father and half the mother so it makes sense that both have a innate biologically desire for their genes to live on. This is what all life forms, from plants to insects to animals to birds want to do: survive. This is the essence of evolution. This is the essence of life.

It makes me consider what kind of societal conditioning may induce the destructive gender issues around our world today.

I once asked a male friend of mine why men get into fights. He told me it comes down to sexual frustration. That silenced me. What can solve this? Only women. And the more empowered women are the more expectations they have of the man they want to be with… I just hope this does not lead to more sexual frustration and more problems than there were to begin with.

Urgh! It’s so hard. Everything has a ripple effect. The best of intentions can lead to the most disastrous consequences.

Does this mean we should not bother empowering women?

Of course not. Empowering women to earn an income, to make their own choices and have an opinion that counts is extremely important. So too is empowering women to be involved in the top-end leadership of our world. But that’s not everything.

Men must be empowered too, but maybe in a different way to the way our society does today. Pressures on men to compete, to “provide for their families”, pressures to prove their masculinity, and to win the woman that will pass on their genes – these factors are evident in the animal world too. But humanity has developed the unique cabability of FORESIGHT. We can analyse our societal pressures and values, and adjust them in whatever way will allow our society to evolve into a better one.

I don’t really know what point I’m trying to make. I have never felt my femininity hold be back from anything… so all of this is a bit foreign to me. I guess as I learn about gender issues for the first time these issues are playing on my mind. You are reading the babble as my mind tries to make sense of it all.
There is one thing I know beyond doubt and that is that both the male and the female genders have intrinsic, inseparable and invaluable roles to play in life. I suppose it’s just now time to contemplate these roles and how we can structure society in a way that fosters both genders to maximize their potential and provide the most benefit for life on earth as a whole.

Unfortunately I’m sure that is much easier said than done…