• Pedro Valdjiu

What does it Matter?

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

What we call civilization seems to carry a strong feeling of separation. Matter has lost its inherit sacredness for most of us and out of that a society that seems to have its roots in heavy consumption, and the depletion of Earth systems has been installed as the dominant Culture.

If we open the book of history, the one that is written in our collective memory, we can easily tag some keywords like: 

  • DOMINATION - We believe that, somehow, other species are a threat. There is even a big possibility that we wiped out, from this reality, all other Human species like Homo Neandertal, Upright Man, Flores Man and so on. So we evoke this collective feeling of Domination over other species but also over each other. Modern science is even doing it by attempting to create universes by making particles collide at certain speeds in order to fully dominate Creation.

  • DISCONNECTION - Dare I ask if Sapiens were ever connected? Truth is that after starting to "Think" our collective soul started the biggest ecological Armageddon. As nomads were circulating the planet some thousands of years ago, they were also leaving a trace of death behind. Today we have farming monocultures doing similar destruction, including social networks that create a false feeling of connection and a monocultural society.

  • MISTRUST - We definitely stopped trusting Nature. We act like a child that doesn't trust our beloved mother and, as such, sadly we have become a community of traumatized orphans. If "Mother" comes from the word "Matter" where does the word "Father" come from?

  • LOST - Yes we are lost – at least it seems that there is a big lack of vision among almost 7 billion Humans. One of the reasons might be because we can’t see the big picture anymore. We are also orphans from the Father. We can’t see and think in patterns anymore. What if the word "Father" comes from Patter...Pattern? How does a child behave in the absence of a masculine role figure? Well, it becomes spoiled and, eventually, it blames the mother for its condition. Out of this, we have become anxious about life, not trusting of life and nature. On top of that our global financial system is definitely not taking into consideration either the big picture or the smallest creature.

So, what does it really "Matter"?

Before we think about values like freedom and equality let's think about what our needs are

What do we need? 

The necessities of life are a very minimal set of things that are all provided by our beloved Mother Earth:

  • Access to clean water

  • Access to clean food

  • Shelter

  • Some parts of the planet demand Clothes, otherwise a simple tree leaf will do it!

  • Community to socialize

Just take a look at the quality of water, food, shelter, clothes, and social communities that we have in mainstream society. What is happening with them? They are all sick, soulless, dying, poisoned and deeply traumatized.

Therefore I see the urgent need to start to reconnect, starting in childhood, humans to the basic needs that really matter. Needs that become values and needs that when aren't met create stress, social injustice, and ecological disasters.

I can speak for myself.

I was raised in a belief system that told me to trust the government but not Nature.

At school I was never taught to plant a single seed. There wasn't any form of Nature activity besides the possibility of joining the scouts. But for this you had to have parents that trusted Nature and Life. That was not my case. I was raised inside a belief system that told me not to trust nature, that water, in order to be drinkable, needed to be treated with poison and that everything that was on the supermarket shelves was good food. Trust the government but don't trust Nature. 

My father, being a Civil engineer, took me since as early as I can remember to visit concrete building sites. That's the only world I knew almost all my life about ways to build. All the other building techniques were primitive, not safe and mainly for poor people.

The way I covered my body was mainly with imported products from all over the world, fully embedded in unethical practices and manly inspired by several music stars or movie actors. Our heroes were carving a global trend of soldiers dressed to become heavy consumers.

I simply couldn't go out, my local community was not safe enough. I could go and ride my bike around the same block over and over again, but unfortunately that was my universe. The rest was not safe. I could be kidnaped, robbed or murdered – that's what I was taught to believe. The family was also not a community possibility. They all came as refugees from the Portuguese colonies after the dictatorship fell in 1974. My family was not welcomed actually. No one liked refugees. There was a sense of scarcity towards work, food, shelter and there was a cultural clash between those raised in Angola or Moçambique and those raised in Portugal even though we were actually all Portuguese people...

The school was my community, with a totalitarian government. We were not included in any kind of decision making and violent communication was practiced daily. My most happy moments were in front of the TV watching MacGyver, escaping from a submarine with my Swiss Army knife and playing 8-bit videos games.

What really mattered in my teenage world was not the quality of water or community, it was rather the sense that people needed to suffer to achieve a status quo a safe position in the wheel of debt that, for my father, never seemed to end.

My family, whom I deeply admire and love, were victims of their culture. Programmed inside a dictatorship to trust authority in such a way so that it would be really hard for them to escape. Still, as they were raised in Africa they somehow had a sense of freedom that the Angolan culture gave them as a gift.

It took me a lot of energy, a set of lucky events, meeting my beloved companion, my dog, and some fairy dust to start to believe in Nature and become its steward. So, before I go on, I'll just make a pause for a glass of spring water...

Yes, I trust!

What, really "Spirits"?

Freedom, equality, and fraternity were the pillars of the French revolution, a revolution that seemed to have installed the new religion that unites almost all countries – Capitalism. Why do I value such things? Is it our nature to value freedom? Or equality? Aren’t we all born free and equal in the eyes of the beholder? At least we should be!

We started to spiritually value this threefold set of values because we simply didn't have them and we need them like we need water to live. Although it is my wish to go into a deep analysis of these three values I will simply share that something is wrong with the way the three values of freedom, equality, and fraternity are distributed among the three realms of society.

Let's investigate together...

In what part of society does Freedom take part? We easily see that one of the reasons for war, past and present, is religion, people not accepting the fact that others are different. So let's kill them all. And the ones that survive, we convert them. From Rome to the Americas, in the name of different Gods, a lot of blood was shed by the rains. 

What about gender, sexual orientation, diets, traditions and many more cultural behaviors? They all seem to create tension between people. Nowadays there is nothing worse than running a course, like a Permaculture course, and having to see how much people impose their diets on each other. Freedom calls for Culture, to have the freedom to circulate, to have different beliefs, to go to bed with the same or opposite gender, to be vegan or paleo, to be naked at the beach and so on.

Illustration by Pawel Kuczynski

Actually nowadays Freedom is rooted in Economics. Capitalism is the highest expression of that. We even use the word Freedom in capital markets the "Free market" that makes people's lives unbalanced and take countries into poverty and debt. 

What about Fraternity? First of all, when I talk about fraternity I am not talking about secret societies but about universal love for all that exists under the Sun. The Human ability to look to Life with mutual respect and curiosity. The misunderstanding of this word took man to the creation of groups with a vested interest, groups that are protected through the creation of Law and the State of Rights that do nothing but privilege the rich. This started more than 3000 years ago with the creation of the first cities. A total sense of Freedom seems to be the value that runs corporations.

And Equality? With globalization, we are now able to travel to almost all the cities in the world and drink coffee at Starbucks or eat a burger at Mac. Equality seems to be a Cultural thing, right? Governments impose a mandatory curriculum at school, fashion makes people feel ugly and therefore Zara's founder is one of the richest men on the planet. There are so many more examples of this going on. 

Nature screams more than ever in our ears for help. We need to regain our power to dream Utopia.

Take a look at Seeds. They are the perfect example of how these values are in the wrong parts of society. Fraternal Corporations creating laws that forbid farmers to save seeds, imposing monocropping worldwide instead of honoring cultural diversity. And those same corporations have the freedom to buy the seed patent for their own profit.

What if we turn the wheel and actually have Freedom guiding Culture? We will have acceptance and compassion emerging out of this. We will relearn how to accept and trust others' choices and beliefs. We will feel curious to learn more about cultural diversity rather than sending planes to bomb and destroy entire countries.

If we place Fraternity in the realm of Economy we will redesign our financial systems so that they will become supportive of life instead of sources of destruction. Countries will mutually support each other and maybe, for the first time, we'll hear the word Love or Compassion used in Economics. Just imagine!

Placing Equality in the realm of the Law will create magic. Not just social equality, similar to Human rights and social justice, but on an ecological level "Pachamama", or Mother Earth, will also gain the Right to Live. Finally, a forest will not simply be a source for toilet paper to keep our asses clean, rivers will not be stopped and poisoned, animals will not be mistreated, simply because people will realise equality isn't just a Spiritual value that was meant to serve humans but is inherit among all that exists.

This magical twist is actually happening around the planet. Everywhere, alternative schools with connective pedagogies are emerging. New currencies, crowdfunding strategies, universal basic income, time banking and other ways of relating to services and goods are emerging. And at the level of equality towards diversity and life we have countries like Bolivia and China declaring legal Rights to rivers and to Nature.

We need to regain our power to dream Utopia, to envision abundant systems, to feed our surrounding neighborhoods with new ideas that resonate in the heart of Humans. Nature screams more than ever in our ears for help, but not on her behalf but rather on the behalf of us who are planning for extinction. We are Nature.

Humans will evolve into something new. The integration with synthetic intelligence is happening while we are being fed synthetic foods. Super Humans are about to come to life and there is a big potential that this marriage also will make us see the big picture. Let's hope that by integrating us with the machine, which is happening and is inevitable, the algorithms will support us to see systems and patterns again and in doing so that we will develop respect towards our mother spaceship that travels throughout the universe taking us further in the so-called Evolution.

The vision for artificial humans is scary, I know. But it's coming, and I make an effort to envision the best out of it...Just like in the movie "The Matrix".

We need to decide, the blue or the red pill?