The Housewife and Economic Value

Our talk on the topic of E.F. Schumacher’s “Buddhist Economics” lead to so many possible paths of further study.

One idea is the relationship to the nuclear family — one member at home, one at work — and its importance in the role of raising children into adulthood. The equal rights movement for women was talked in terms of what may have been a distortion of purpose, one which lead to not one, but both parents working, and a child at home alone, or in best cases, at home with a nanny who can be afforded thanks to a second income.

Schumacher suggests that the “very start of Buddhist economic planning would be a planning for full employment” yet points out that “employment of women in offices or factories would be considered a sign of serious economic failure.”

His point, while dated in terms of our social concepts of equality, still have a very valid point. There is a role for ‘home body’ whether it is man or woman, and this role is of significant importance, perhaps even more important than the role of bringing in a salary, because it deals with the raising of another human being, and the nurturing and support of a family. This role has been deleted from our society as something of importance, and it has been made so explicitly because it is not ‘monetized’ by the economic system.

The answer is not likely to monetize or find our how much a ‘housewife’ is worth, but to take the job of raising a family completely out of the frame work of economics. It is a priceless job. It is a fundamental cornerstone of the human condition.

And so it has very unfortunately been systematically destroyed by a system which sees ‘value’ in a very black and white way. There is no color in the capitalist system as it stands today, and color is the essence of life, and there is no way to properly calculate it, to shove it into a formulaic spreadsheet… capitalism should never be a system which is central to the importance of human life, human development, or human happiness, because these concepts can not be calculated, nor does it help us to try and calculate them.

What is clear, I think, is that economic system — whether a form of capitalism or something entirely else — needs to look at humanity and ecology for guidance on how it can support things such as equality, human happiness, creativity, and ecological sustainability. It should, however, never be seen at the center of these.

Small Changes

China, Russia, Japan, US… Our discussion that started from economics and buddhism expanded to world issues, and we were worried that there were so many problems out there. Because everything is connected and easily accessible, our scope of the world is much larger and we become global citizens aware of everything–at least the stories delivered by the media. And they say traveling enriches you because it gives you direct experience of the world and a broader, bigger perspective.

But we have to remember to come back to where we stand and face the problems near us. Sometimes I’m engulfed by the bigger issues that I forget that I have a friend who can use my help, who has a problem that won’t solve easily but we can come up with solutions together.

I also thought about the disconnection that happens inside the family that is often the root of our emotional fragility that lead to social issues. Both men and women work, and children who grow up without sufficient love from both parents suffer tremendously on their own. This is not always the case but often the condition that follows children with mental problems. For the society to be healthy, our families and friends need to be healthy, and many of us have the power to make small changes, but significant.

Youth Hackers

‘Hacking Life’ seems an appropriate phrase for the night.

There are many approches to changing the system, by challenge or simply by passive resistance. Tonight we seemed to focus on the importance of taking our life and social system as it is, really looking at each of the pieces, and then working alter the ways in which these pieces works for us and for society at large. ‘Hacking’ the inner workings of society through innovation and just ‘seeing’ the inifinite number of possibilities inherent in something as simple as a piece of concrete.

The example of graffiti was given, a simple way of ‘hacking’ the city where you’ve essentially created your own billboard — though it’s debatable how effective the message is in the majority of graffiti. Standouts include Banksy, one who really ‘gets it’ when it comes to effective city hacking. But anyone who uses some existing piece of city structure for a utility which it was not designed for is really becoming a hacker.

As an age group, youth dominated our conversation, and for good reason as it seems we believe in the importance of getting our young people on the right track — or maybe, simply in not derailing them as we seem to do at an early age.

Perhaps it’s not that we need to show kids how to spray paint buildings, but that we must allow their already imaginative minds free reign. Perhaps it’s that we need to encourage the creativity, the open problem solving, and the world of possibilities which all too often leaves their heads as they grow up to see only a tunnel of cubicles, monetary investments, and necessary consumer products which will make up the sum of their lives for eternity.

At an early age, we place our youth’s minds in a cage with some mis-guided sense of duty to be categorically educated, financially productive, social zombies.

It’s likely easier to refrain from putting that cage and lock there in the first place, than it is to unlock a bunch of zombies.

But I suppose we should try to do both.

ACP Reading: From “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran

Then, said Almitra, speak to us of Love.

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them.
And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Religion-esque

The idea of the person as a husk of corn, being stripped naked, smashed, and made into bread — delicious, nutritious, bread — seemed most penetrating.

If we think of ourselves as beautiful, imperfect beings, then we must never cease to be dynamic in thought, action, and direction; always moving, always adapting and improving.At times, it may seem counter to our own comfort and to those around us, it may seem counter to purveying opinion, it may seem as though all that we have been taught as good and right is subject to be turned on its end, kicked off a cliff, and broken into pieces which we are left to pick through in order to understand reality, for ourselves.

When this is the case, at least we know that our actions are moving towards a thoughtful change.

Who is the dreamer-and who the dreamed

My parents read Chuang Tzu’s the Butterfly dream to me as the bedtime story when I was little. But I have not really given much thought until prior to this APC meeting. I have to reach to the fundamental of the story and decode the “dream”. According to Dream Dictionary for Dummies, 1) the dream world is not separate from the waking world; they are extensions of each other and are mutually supportive and correlative. 2) Everything you do in dreams is real; it’s just happening in other dimensions of your awareness. 3) Its normal for your awareness to constantly shift continually, day and night. 4) Dreamwork is a way to discover what your whole self, the you beyond your logical mind, is doing. Human need to pass beta and alpha state (Phase one) and reach theta state (Phase two) to start having dreams. Obviously Chuang Tzu was very relaxed and then fell asleep and dreamed being a butterfly. After read it over and over again, I am into my own delusion of dream and reality. And start to wonder did Chuang Tzu really have that dream? Or he witted us with another metaphor. Enlighten us mentally and physically to reach the stage of relaxation. Daoism advocates a freedom is to be spontaneous and natural from our hearts. One of the most difficult things for human is to realize our own heart. Who am I? What life I would like to be? The transformation here is from the controlled mind, to the absolute freedom of the mind to move in any direction that is fantasies. Transmogrification is the final stage. Dream it and be it!

roses growing OUT of the concrete

we concluded from this discussion that we need better teachers especially when we don’t have the power to immediately change the standard curriculum. young people need teachers who care, who are able to connect, who are able to see past the bullshit and integrate real-life community into the classroom.
so what is one way to educate the masses on an important issue? write a book. ally suggested patrick m. writes a book on what it means to be a good teacher and how to be one. his personal experience and passions would make this an engaging book that could really benefit the current system. i totally agree with ally here and i’m glad that it’s been put out there!

Ecosystem

Man is small, and, therefore, small is beautiful.  Small could be powerful.  Although we are not economists or politicians who could pass a new law, we can influence and create revolution in society in our way.  We care, have concern for, and act on a small-scale first.  We advocate the sustainable management of resources and solve the underlying problems of an unsustainable economy.  Every single ecosystem starts small, when it reaches its own harmony, then it can quickly impact the surrounding chains in a good way.   We are an epicenter to echo the recognition of humanity as a participant of the ecosystem.   That is the beauty!

How Local Economy Can Stop Global War

E.F. Schumacher started off this excerpt by suggestion that technologist’s top priority should be developing small-scale production mechanisms which are compatible with man’s need for creativity; he then makes a short hop to apply all of this to natural resources and war, from which I take the point of view that concentration on small-scale, local creative production is a key to ending war.

This suggestion sounds absolutely ludicrous as a statement, until we look at what it means to have a “local” economy, and how such a system effects our views of nature, resources, and of each other as human beings.

At the root of the wars which Schumacher speaks of — and also at the root of our current war in the Middle East — is a perceived need, and thus economic value, in the act of engaging in war for the purpose of taking natural resources in the first place.

To put this in context of our daily consumption habits, we disagree with a war for oil, yet we use large amounts of it each day, creating a need to drill, frack, and ultimately to engage in war. We are the consumers who demand cheap goods, and our demands directly influence the actions of the market, in turn helping creating situations where war is seen as a necessary economic move.

Schumacher is idealistic to think that everyone could just ‘get it’ and stop the wars and corporate greed by re-aligning their consumption habits to think, act, and buy on a more local — or at least ecologically responsible — scale. But his ideology is necessary and, I think, correct.

Public opinion, however, is not yet on board with this idea, even 40 years after the writing of this book. One could credit the government and corporations, who are especially gifted (or maybe just ubiquitous) at PR and slick propaganda…

The solution? Our message, the message of the people, needs to be better crafted and more ubiquitous.

It’s like a TED Talks, but for people who read.

http://online.sagepub.com/site/misc/societies.xhtml

Ever heard of SAGE Journals? The journal site is a collection of topic-targeted academic papers written by scholars around the world. I came across it when I went digging for conclusive studies in the administration of traffic law.

Local Economy section, I think, might be of strong interest to us.
http://lec.sagepub.com/