The truth about Agenda 21

I’ve been hearing a lot about Agenda 21 recently, the UN’s sustainable development plan. It’s been around for 20 years now, but for some reason it appears to have become a lightning rod for anti-green paranoia in the last couple of years. And I mean paranoia. Some of the rhetoric around this is absurd, claiming that Agenda 21 is a UN plot to replace nations states with a world government, abolish private property, and the end of the family unit.

It would be easy to dismiss this as extremist Glenn-Beck inspired silliness, except that it has an impact here in the real world. Tea Party activists have turned up to block things like high speed rail, city bike schemes, or even smart metering, all citing Agenda 21. The Republican Party National Committee apparently passed a resolution last month condemning Agenda 21, and Newt Gingrich has mentioned it on the campaign trail.

So what’s going on here? Is there anything to fear from this 20 year old document? Let’s start at the beginning:

What is sustainability?

First up, what is sustainability in the first place? Having heard plenty of false definitions from people who disagree with it, let’s look it in a dictionary, shall we? According to mine, it is ‘that which is capable of being sustained’ – something that can continue in perpetuity, or be carried over into the future. This concept is well understood in finances. If you spend more than you earn, month after month, then you have an unsustainable household budget – it can’t be sustained. You’ll get deeper and deeper into debt until you go bankrupt.

Environmental sustainability is no different. If you cut trees faster than they can grow, eventually you have no trees. If you draw water from an aquifer faster than it can be replenished, it’ll run dry.

Sustainability is a technical term, not a political one. Something is either sustainable or it isn’t. To say that something is unsustainable is not making a value judgement about that thing, it is saying that it cannot be sustained in the long term. If you value something and want to enjoy it in the future, then seriously, you want it to be sustainable.

What is sustainable development?

Agenda 21 is a plan for sustainable development, so let’s get a bit more specific. Development is the overall direction of society, and it’s a broad term. It includes the way that we are feeding ourselves and the way we travel. It includes urban planning and zoning, and the shape of the economy. It also includes social elements – education, democracy, freedom and human rights. It is the path that our civilization is on, the emerging story of our way of life.

Sustainable development then, is development that can be carried forward into the future. It means infrastructure that is still going to be viable in years to come. It means not creating institutions or government services without knowing how they’re going to be funded in the long term. And it means considering the environmental consequences of our actions – for example, not building a city in the desert where it will run out of water.

Here’s the simple truth of the matter: if we’re not proactively choosing sustainable development, then much of what we’re doing is going to be unsustainable development. And that means that we’re storing up big problems for the future. Some of those problems won’t become apparent until we’re gone, and we’ll have left our children with cities unfit for purpose, shortages of fuel, water, or food, and huge debts to repay. For the first time in several decades, the next generation will have a worse standard of living than we do now. There’s nothing sinister about sustainable development. It is the opposite, the unsustainable path, that betrays the future.

What is the UN?

There are plenty of problems that need international solutions, and the UN is one of the international forums set up to debate and try and solve those big problems, alongside others like the World Bank, IMF, and the World Trade Organisation. The UN is a forum for international cooperation. It allows countries to work together to deliver humanitarian aid, fight disease, manage conflict, encourage human rights, and solve problems.

Let’s get a few things straight about the UN. First of all, it’s a voluntary organization. You don’t have to be part of it if you don’t want to, and yet every country in the world has chosen to be there. Only one country has ever walked out, and that was Indonesia in the 50s. (It came back). It’s largely democratic, with decisions taken by two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly – one country, one vote. The exception is the Security Council, which deals with security and conflict. Alongside 10 rotating elected members, the council has five permanent members who have a veto. The US is one of those five.

The UN has no authority over individual nations, and it can only make recommendations. National governments are at liberty to say no to anything that the UN decides together. And even if they say yes, the UN has no way of holding anyone to their promises – it has no army, no powers, no mechanisms of enforcement. It relies entirely on goodwill between countries. The worst the UN can do is suspend your country’s right to attend its meetings, and even that requires a majority vote.

Because you need a two thirds majority on decisions, and Security Council members have a veto, the UN can’t be manipulated for nefarious purposes. That’s a big safeguard, but it’s also the reason why it can be so slow to get things done. Consider last week’s failed resolution to condemn Syria. You’d think that we could all agree that bombing your own citizens is a bad thing to do, but apparently not.

In short, if there was a global elite looking to create a one-world government, they’d be idiots to try and do it through the UN.

What is Agenda 21?

After all that then, let’s get to the heart of the matter. What exactly is Agenda 21? Let’s look at the history of it. In the latter half of the last century, there was a growing recognition that there were some environmental problems that had to be addressed at the global level. In 1992, a major summit was called in Rio. 172 countries participated, most of them sending their heads of state.

The discussion focused on pollution, the need to diversify energy sources, water scarcity, and a number of other issues. The results of the conference and the long discussions leading up to it were summarised in a comprehensive action plan for the 21st Century: Agenda 21. Over 40 chapters, the document attempted to crystalize this new global enthusiasm for smarter, greener development into something of a vision for the future. It’s here on the UN website, in full.

Some governments, national or local, attempted to live up to it for a while. Twenty years on, most people have forgotten about it entirely. People occasionally pay lip service to its ambitions, but otherwise it’s more or less irrelevant. In fact, it never was particularly useful. Agenda 21 is vague, full of aspirational language and with no clear targets (which is kind of what you’d expect from a document drawn up by committee in a roomful of people who can’t agree on anything.) It doesn’t seem to have done much in the last 20 years either. If it was a plot, it’s a failed one.

But how could it be a plot, when it is a public document, drawn together by world leaders in a democratic process? If it was a plot somehow, how could it possibly succeed when it’s a non-binding set of recommendations from an international body with no power over individual nations?

Here’s the truth of the matter: Sustainability matters, and is nothing to be afraid of. The UN is powerless over you and your government. And the only scary thing about Agenda 21 is its bizarre re-birth as a right-wing scapegoat.

PS – before you comment and tell me I’m wrong…

In looking at this, I’ve genuinely looked for evidence of a plot within Agenda 21. I can find plenty of commentators claiming that it wants to revoke private property rights, for example, but none of them give me a reference. That’s interesting, because I’ve searched Agenda 21 itself, and you know what? In the 351 page doc, there is only one mention of private property, in a sentence saying that it’s important.

So here’s the deal: if you want to tell me I’m wrong, download Agenda 21 and show me exactly where it says these things. Thanks.

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44 Comments on “The truth about Agenda 21”

  1. lunny06 February 15, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    It is all practical and makes sense, don’t know why anyone would want to go up against you on this. Also a very nice Dummy’s Guide to the UN, mind if I borrow some for my year 3/4 classes?
    Cheers, d’Arcy.

    • Jeremy February 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

      Thanks please do use it as you see fit!

  2. Bryan Adkins February 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Excellent Jem.
    I agree that sustainability is not a political word but a technical one. That is an excellent insight. However, I think that once we add “Development” to the moniker, it becomes very politically charged indeed, thus the vague and non-binding language in Agenda 21. No one wanted to step on anyone elses’ toes in Rio nor in any agreement since. Unfortunately, that has resulted in poor performance overall.
    I also agree that doing anything through the UN is slow, arduous and frustrating. But sometimes, that in itself is “due process” ensuring that we don’t jump to actions, for example in to illegal wars in the Middle East.
    In light of the recent veto over the Syrian situation, I was immensely disappointed. It started me asking a question that I have never asked, but in hindsight, seems obvious and simple: Why on Earth, do we have a Security Council anyway? Why are five countries allowed to have absolute power? It may have made sense in the early years of the League of Nations and the UN, but now, with so many countries as members, should all decisions not be made in the General Assembly? Perhaps there is an obvious reason, which I am missing, but once you start playing with this idea in your mind, it becomes more and more unfathomable that we are not allowing a democratic process to hold sway. If the special strategic interests of 5 countries continue to rule actions by the UN, all agreements, whether binding or not, such as Agenda 21, the MDGs, the Kyoto Protocol and many others, are hopelessly undermined. Does this make sense to you? I find it frustrating as you can probably tell…

    • Stefan Thiesen February 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      I think the (unsatisfactory) answer probably is: to kep them in, to keep some level of communication alive. The fact is that if the big powers had no veto right, they would simply ignore decisions they didn’t like. Here, at least, they have to stand up and state clearly they veto something, which also puts the burden of responsibility for failure on the shoulders of the government that expressed its veto.

      We are ages away from a truly democratic world organization – or true democracies anywhere, for that matter. The problems begin with the simple fact that the majority of the UN member states are not exactly clean democracies. And we can see in many organizations and councils how “democracy” operates on a global scale. Take the International Whaling Commission: it is an open secret that voices of small nations are bought there. And look at the European Union – a regional union of democratic member states that all have a more or less similar cultural background and very similar economic interests. And yet they often can’t seem to agree on anything… So I am afraid the main purpose of the UN is to keep in touch, to keep an exchange running. It is not much, but it is better than nothing.

    • Jeremy February 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      When it was set up after WW2, the ‘winners’ gave themselves a privileged position in the UN, and they’re still enjoying it 60 years later. It’s not democratic, and it doesn’t reflect the realities of the world, either by population, economy, or even political power. It needs to be reformed as a matter of urgency in my opinion, although I suspect there’s little appetite for change from the five permanent members.

      The security council is the elephant in the room when it comes to the UN’s aim to be a proper international forum. But then you look at the structures of the IMF or the WTO, and suddenly the UN starts to look remarkably progressive.

  3. mcmeeshi February 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    Thanks for the informative background. :)

  4. Ivor Hugh-Jorgan February 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    So Builderberg is just some people getting together to party, and when so called visionaries , men fo the year acording to Time magazine purport the beginnings of agenda 21 and plan the return of a feudalistic system of populations accross the world, including having areas of wild lands between to discourage personal movement between towns. That visionary , that man of the year, more than once, that person who already was in preparation for an Agenda 21 type lifestyle plan for his own country and by force the ones around him until all of europe waould be the same, the one and only Adolf Hitler, was he right?

    Were there evidential reports and hard evidence that wind farms would drive people mad with their subsonic noise or be wiping out bird species , probably not yet it’;shappening right now. I think you need to come up with something better than “you haven’t got evidence so it doesn’t exist” because it’s clearly happening already, the western world is gripped by “regional Plans” which strip rehabilation between towns, bear and wolf attacks resulting in fatalities are increasing in the USA. Looks like Agenda 21 is proceeding and will be implimented by about 2050 just as planned, it’s right on schedule.

    • Jeremy February 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      Did you read my last paragraph Ivor? Download Agenda 21, have a read through, and show me evidence of Fascist intentions in it please.

  5. Karen Williams February 16, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    I am naive on the ‘ins & outs’ of politics but in my life’s effort to get at ‘the truth’/the facts of any matter immediately relevant to me, I have become a little less naive and gullible about some of mankinds devious ways. So, I have no idea if Agenda 21 is a plot, but:
    a) It puzzles me that you ask for visible evidence of it being one and written by the accused themselves!
    b) How many times has it been said that ‘they wouldn’t dare do it from within’? (I expect political smoke screens will be on a cunning level beyond most of our imaginations).
    c) Five countries with veto and all the others discussing, sounds a little bit like ‘divide and rule’.
    So, although I truly have no idea if it is or not (and am in no position to know or to act), your arguments do not seem very strong. Do you know the fruits of the professed goals and their amount of impact. This may help determine if it’s wolves in sheeps clothing.

    • Jeremy February 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      The conspiracy theorists say that Agenda 21 wants to destroy the family unit, abolish private property, and turn most of the US into wild lands where people wouldn’t be allowed to go, among other things. I can’t find those things in the document.
      So my invitation is very simple: show me. If the document doesn’t say those things, the whole idea of the conspiracy is entirely baseless. It’s not a difficult thing to do – every paragraph in Agenda 21 is numbered.

  6. Stefan Thiesen February 16, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Sometimes it indeed helps to quite simply look up a term in the good old Websters or Oxford dictionary. It won’t change the ideological or political beliefs of anyone, though.

    As for Agenda 21: I can really only speak for Germany, and mostly for the towns I know well or lived in. Practically every town has an environmental department and/or an Agenda 21 office. What they do is keep the cities clean (of garbage), enforce environmental regulations, offer training on environmentally sound practices and standards (e.g. how to get an ISO 14001 Certification for your company), organize the collection of scrap metall and other valuables for recycling, advise the respective city and its population on energy efficiency and renewable energy, develop future energy strategies, keep track of local renewable energy projects and the like. The Agenda offices have no power by themselves whatsoever but serve in a low level advisory function. They do not make any laws, nor do they enforce laws. There is no policing or anything even remotely akin to it. Laws are made in parliaments, on a state, federal and EU level. Our city of Selm, a small town in Westfalia, endorsed the Agenda 21 as well as the climate alliance in 1995 – almost unanimously decided by all parties in the city council, including the conservatives and liberals. The local impact is that the town became cleaner and quieter (noise reduction is part of the theme), jobs were created (yes – building and maintaining solar energy systems, wind generators and bio-gas plants creates jobs). The recycling rate is close to 100% here, the impact of agricultural runoffs has been reduced by intelligent farming practices, and so on. I cannot see any sinister side effects emanating from our local Agenda 21 office (comprised of 2 people, by the way, who are part of the environment and planning dept.).

    @Jeremy: I highly appreciate your well informed, distanced and sober journalistic approach to everything. Kudos. I have difficulties with that and tend to fall into the irony trap (just deleted a long sarcastic paragraph here). Then again – I am not a journalist. When I read conspiracy theories surrounding Agenda 21 and the Bilderberger and Hitler all mixed together in a witches brew of paranoia, I feel like biting a piece out of my desk. I do not know how to respond, then.

    • Jeremy February 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      Well, you should see my first drafts. I discarded more than one paragraph…

      Interesting to see how it has played out where you are. I think it’s been better used at the local level, although after 20 years it has been largely supplanted by national initiatives and guidance around here.

      • Stefan Thiesen February 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

        I judge you by what I read, Jeremy :-).

        Actually, I think in most cities and towns what remained of “Agenda 21″ more or less is the name, since basically it blended into the environmental and planning departments. It was reduced to an inner-department distinction. One group does planning and enforcement of regulations, the other is more involved with outreach, education and keeping track of developments. But it did have an impact on the local administrations – in the past (20, 25 years ago) most cities and even many states did not even have an environmental department or ministry. Now every small town as one, and “Nachhaltigkeit” (Sustainability) is a widely accepted goal in society, largely independent of political leanings. By and large now environmental aspects became an integral aspect of every day planning tasks. Which is as it should be: an internal factor of the equation.

  7. Karen Williams February 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Stefan, it’s the age old problem, one side cannot know how to respond to the other (at least you kept polite & did not damage your teeth!). One says ‘I cannot see anything other than what I see’ and the other says ‘you are not looking deep enough – it’s not on the surface’. But, if conspiracy theories are to be believed at all, they will have to show where to look deeper and others would have to make the effort, which requires an open mind at least.

    • Stefan Thiesen February 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Karen, you are right, of course. My main issue with conspiracy theories is that hardly anyone out there (me included, naturally) is in a position to actually make any clear knowledgeable statement about them. Do conspiracies exist? By all means! They do! History is teeming with them. They also come with more benign names like networking, co-operation, fraternizing – or less benign ones like cartell, monopoly, trust, Mafia. But we cannot uncover conspiracies (such a harmless word – meaning “to breath together”) by fantasizing about them and allowing ourselves to get adrift on our fears and speculations. That leads nowhere. What we can do is what Jeremy did here – and always does: step back, look at the big picture and do some logical deduction using the facts at hand. It is not like there are no facts. To use a metaphor: let’s say we are loading a ship. Jeremy’s blog then in my interpretation would be concerned with the question whether or not the ship is overloaded. Whether it will swim – or sink (and what to do, to keep it afloat). And that depends on the combined weight of the containers on the ship. On nothing else. On that level it is entirely unnecessary to speculate about the content of the containers – can be computers, food, medical equipment, and clothing: it does not matter. Only the weight counts to find out whether the ship will swim, or not. All those conspiracy theories ultimately speculate about the content of the containers, without ever looking in. Black box thinking, so to say. And they don’t help solving the question whether or not the ship can carry the containers. Most peculiar: some people seem to think the ship can carry a limitless number of containers…

  8. Karen Williams February 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Stefan, Just an immediate thought – I think getting ‘adrift on our fears’ does often lead much further than ‘nowhere’ – sometimes to terrible bad, sometimes to good. It’s surely not always mere speculation. We surely need to examine the content as well as the weight but by keeping balanced all the time. ‘Looking in’ is certainly something we could all make good use of! I can’t elaborate on that as I’m sure it would take reams! Better off doing it and perhaps leaving the speculation to others? If I go quiet, you’ll know why!

    • Stefan Thiesen February 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Hi again Karen: of course I don’t mean that we ignore the content of the containers altogether, to stay in the picture. What I meant was that when addressing the question of carrying capacity of the ship, the content of the container is not an issue – merely its mass, which here I use as a metaphor for an objectifiable and measurable parameter all can (hopefully) agree upon.

      My feeling (and I stress feeling – this is not a scientific statement, only a personal impression) is that the plethora of conspiracy theories mainly arises from feeling disenfranchised and powerless and helpless in face of an overwhelmingly large and complex world. So yes – we need to look into it, need to point out our rights as citizens and insist on transparency. And while we dig in the darkness, we can at the same time put our fingers into those open wounds of society that are clearly visible in the light of the day and at least try to stop the bleeding.

  9. Karen Williams February 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Thanks again Stefan. I somehow missed the sequence of all the above replies. I would have questioned with Jeremy that surely they do not mean the actual ‘words’ in the Agenda but what is ‘behind’ it all, or at the bottom of it all, what drives it, or where it will ultimately lead. If so, you can’t ask where the words show its ultimate underlying nature. And I am grateful to you for your metaphor because, whilst out on my walk, it directed me to the probable reason why I sometimes take issue with Jeremy, despite his good work/intentions. He does, as you explain, look at the ‘weight’ and I am questioning from another perspective, which, as you also say, is not relevant to the ‘weight’. However, I think they must be considered together to achieve the said ‘balance’. On their own, both ships sink one way or another! To do this, both must work together and I do aim for that.

  10. Karen Williams February 17, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    Again Stefan, In response to your personal feeling – mine is somewhat similar – I believe that the more we live with fear, the more we are not in a good state of mind and are then prone to harming each other. If we have power we commonly live in fear of losing it and if we are powerless we commonly fear being trodden on. The battle is basically between the powerful and the powerless and I suppose it’s idealistic to hope for a global remedy. But, the more we tackle it the less blood will be shed. It is fundamental to just about everything, yet so little acknowledged. Back in the 80′s Michael Laver wrote The Politics of Private Desires – ‘If a group of people behave so as to do the very best for themselves individually, then they will produce a state of affairs which is worse for each of them’. Don’t you think this is what we do? But how to change?

    • Stefan Thiesen February 17, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Karen – you are not seriously asking me that question? How to change… that question is way over the head of even Buddha’s and sages. I am also not sure if the answers of the great teachers of mankind really apply in full to our time. Humility, living the simple life, austerity (which really is non since it grows out of realization of not needing much). Love thy neighbor. Treat every living being with respect. Or – in Taoism – wu wei, the art of non-doing. All this is fine, and if we’d all live by the sermon of the mount the world would be a far better place, I presume. But I fear that we are beyond the stage where convincing fellow humans is enough. We might have reached a stage where we created a global apparatus with its own rules where humans, including the most powerful, are not really in control. They follow the logics of that machine called the global economy, not the other way round. The captains of finance and industry are no captains at all. They simply are components of the machine that can be replaced. So if I live by example and manage to convince others, the system itself will not change. It merely spits out those who do not participate. The minimum role we have to play in that machine is that of a consumer. If we do not consume, we are useless for that system. And – you cannot convince a mere system. I am also not sure if it can be changed from within. I have, in fact, no real global answers. State of mind, state of fear… state of confusion. We are clever animals, but we managed to create a world too complex for any individual to comprehend. Yet on a hugely simplified level (again, looking upon the container from the outside, so to say) I picture this global “society” that we created as akin to a simple equation, or rather a mapping rule: World in (with all on it) on one side and money out on the other. It is pretty hopeless to discuss with a quasi-mathematical formalism. The rule of an exponential equation. The rule of a dogma: GROWTH. And although striving for the Pareto Optimum in principle is a good idea, it, again, is defined in terms of classic economical theory. In terms of money. Not in terms of, say, happiness.

      I dare to say: the powerful have power within that system, but they have no power over the system to which they, too, are subjected.

      I am in no way a socialist or eco-fundamentalist. Mainly I am an observer, and I think the system (what better word is there?) does not serve its ends, which in my view should be to allow every human being – and ideally every other living being – a decent and happy life in dignity and freedom. Even if I look at those who are relatively well off… is sitting ten hours in front of a computer screen what evolution prepared us for? Is that a full life? What is a full life? Apparently all cultures around the globe could agree on the western economic system. I sometimes think mainly because it caters to the lowest of our desires. But can we agree on what a “full life” really is? From Bali to Manila, from Tokio to Baghdad? From Salt Lake City to Amsterdam? The differences of world views and attitudes are so amazing, and yet the strive for money unites them all – and at the same time puts a wedge between all of us.

      So I do not know how to overcome the inertia of “the system”, but we probably do need a different type of finance. A new money concept. The one we have is suicidal. We need a money concept that fosters cooperation, that works as social glue for society. Not one that automatically transfers funds from the have-nots to the haves while demanding impossibilities to be maintained. The main fear might well be the constant impression that I might loose everything, any time. We lost our sese of stability. For good reasons. And the constant confusion and insecurity does not only encourage cooperation – in many it hardens self interest, taking care of your own family.

      Oh well…

  11. Karen Williams February 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Very many thanks Stefan. I was not really expecting THE answer! I was just hoping for your response as your previous replies were good. You express your thoughts so well. It’s along the lines of my own thinking. I haven’t had your education but I have no worries about that. I would love to respond to each of your comments but this would be far too long, however, to respond more generally I will be touching a number of your comments.

    What we used to call the ‘go-getters’ in life always want more. This all too often becomes a chronic disease and it spreads because the ‘rewards’ appear as gold, and it seems that all but a few have forgotten the deeper meaning of ‘all that glitters is not gold’. Then these go-getters need to store the ingredients that they need to continue with their work, to hoard or use the so called ‘rewards’ and to throw away the waste. This is repeatedly at the cost of those who are not involved by choice, or otherwise, including the earth, which of course, will ultimately affect even the go-getters, one way or another. We are told that the ‘go-getters’ improve the situation for us all. In my opinion the trade-off’ for their main goals are ultimately, and presently so evidently, negative for everyone. I find that all the attempts for ‘improvement’ are at best, merely scratching the itches of the disease and dampening the fever. Damage limitation is the agenda. Of course we need medicine and nurses to limit the damage, but I realise that my perspective is mostly on the disease itself, this being the ‘fear’ in human nature for its personal survival, sustainability, and comfort, along with the mistaken remedies of power, wealth and it’s cloaked cousin ‘development’.
    Recognition of the symptoms is increasing but acknowledging the disease itself has become so much the ‘poor cousin’ to the goal of ‘development’ in our systems (go-getters mainly drive the heart of the systems, while others are the mechanics and the nurses), that we give little more than lip-service to the disease and blindly seek the remedy in more wealth and more power so we can have more development! So, I do not think it is too complex for any individual to comprehend. We’re in an almost blind locked circle of error. In your ship metaphor, those who think the ship’s capacity is unlimited have totally lost sight of the disease hidden in its containers, regardless of whether or not it will sink from overload. The disease is growing, perhaps we’ll use bigger nails in the lids!

    Convincing fellow human beings has not worked globally. Necessity is the mother of invention but that just works temporarily, so perhaps the sages are as right as always and it does apply today – we can only tackle the disease in ourselves ‘physician, heal thyself’ and give a plaster to the bleeding.
    We may not have helped the world to change by our discussion, although the Brahma Kumaris’ motto is ‘Change the world – change yourself’, so thanks very much for the helpful sharing of thoughts. Regards, Karen.

    • Stefan Thiesen February 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      After reading your words, Karen, I thought: perhaps that system is nothing but a projection of our fears – it does not only cater to human greed. It grew out of human greed. A cycle…indeed; needs some thinking… (now I gotta get my girls from school and Kindergarten…). Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It helps! :-)

  12. Karen Williams February 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Yippee! I don’t know if you’ll come back to see this but just had to say – that’s the best bit of communication, I’ve ever had with anyone! I hope the ideas we’ve shared can grow and help more. I nearly came back sooner to correct a couple of little slips of mine but realised they were insignificant to the main thrust. The one that perhaps I ought to have added is that EVERYTHNG we get faced with grows from this fundamental fear, but you clearly grabbed that thought yourself from the rest. Hoorah!

    • Stefan Thiesen February 18, 2012 at 11:37 am #

      Hi Karen: Did you ever read “The Fear Index” by Robert Harris? For a mainstream thriller it is pretty well researched and insightful. Same idea behind it. The more I think about it the more it seems that the entire “free market” as we see it now follows the same logics as the drug market. There is, after all, a demand for things that destroy us. So the supply follows…

      I also realized that the container metaphor has dangerous potential when applied in different contexts. I really mean it in a strictly mathematical sense as a very limited tool (a Gedankenexperiment) for insight, especially when it comes to the situation of forced exponential growth vs. limited carrying capacities. All the rest of the world does not need container thinking. There we need holistic thinking. When applied to politics or social issues the metaphor quickly leads to the dark path of totalitarianism. We already know that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution cannot be easily applied to cultures. Mainly because we run into muddy interpretations and analogies and suddenly do not talk about facts anymore but about beliefs and assumptions. So – analogies and metaphors are nice for some explanations, are good use for thought experiments, but it should always be clear that they are only metaphors. Not more.

      Back to fear: The big issue seems that supply and demand have run into a trap here. Fear creates demand. Demand creates supply and hence profit (even on the abstract level of Hedge Funds and financial derivatives – see Fear Index). So within the logics of “THE SYSTEM” there is an unfortunately strong economic incentive to create FEAR in order to invoke DEMAND. And since within the real economy, the economy that produces actual goods and services, market saturations and diminishing returns are visible at every corner, the incentive to create demand artificially by manufacturing it using psychological trickery becomes ever stronger. And fear is the strongest psychological driver there is. And – there are people whose mindset allows them to mercilessly exploit the fear of their fellow humans.

      I always thought that the greatest weakness of classic economic theory was that it ignored human behavior. It assumed human behavior to always be “reasonable”. But this “New” form of, let’s call it “applied economics” might be really sinister because it does include humans.

  13. Karen Williams February 18, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Hi Stefan, Sorry for delay, I’ve tried four times to reply today, it’s been one of those days! I’m glad you’ve not closed the discussion yet. I had tried replying earlier and found myself going into reams on all of your comments! The break for mundane matters has shown me that I must try again with a more general (but absolutely pertinent), briefer theme. (It’s not SO brief!).I was wondering if it would be preferable to give you my own e-mail through Jeremy’s site, in a private way, but meanwhile…….

    I agree, tools contain problems. I think that’s why I’m quite glad to have had a little less of education (mostly designed for & by the system) as this may have prevented me from experimenting with tools & theories on other victims. Instead, I’ve had to use only direct personal reality and my ears, learning big lessons in less harmful methods and levels, if you get my drift. It could even be how you have come to view the current situation as ‘applied economics’ with, you think, more sinister implications.

    Onto the actual fear problem: You have said a) ‘So within the logics of “THE SYSTEM” there is an unfortunately strong economic incentive to create FEAR in order to invoke DEMAND’ b) because ‘market saturations and diminishing returns are visible at every corner, the incentive to create demand artificially by manufacturing it using psychological trickery becomes ever stronger’ c) ‘there are people whose mindset allows them to mercilessly exploit the fear of their fellow humans’ d) weakness of classic economic theory……. But this “New” form of, let’s call it “applied economics” might be really sinister because it does include humans.

    These are basically comments on the how the problem grows and why it now seems possibly much worse. Quite! Like many issues, fear UNCHECKED grows. Now that even the finances (which gave a sense of security), of those who previously felt more comfortable has been taken back from them, there is a greater and stronger voice and others join the band-wagon. This briefly, is how I see it…… (This will also touch on some of your previous observations & comments about life as it is today).

    The said ‘go-getters’ accumulated (by the way, but for circumstances, any of us could have been the go-getters, so I am not pointing the finger at any particular group/type of person). This enabled ownership of huge industry and the workers for it. The strong men (that is, strength as power in all its forms), have always used and abused the less powerful (slaves in old and new, less obvious ways), but the huge industrial monster which has grown out of accumulation, transferred our natural skills and used the earth (our shared birth right, many would say). Having used our mental abilities to magnify our natural physical abilities, much in the name of luxury rather than need, we are apparently outgrowing our natural home, have lost our personal sense of fulfilling achievement & direction, and are facing mounting problems (even much of criminal activity is due to oppressed & perverted natural human needs). ALL the rest of our issues, along with all the discussions, hot air, and violence surrounding them, are in the main, just the resulting scum on the surface, which, in the complexity of their fighting factions, we fail to recognise. I oppose the frequently given argument that the average man can vote with his feet and purchases. Most have been employed by the system in ways which gives no adequate time for reflection, understanding, insight, effective reaction or answers. It is enough just to keep going. The choice we really have is only between what is on offer. We do not get at the underlying issue. I find that most do not even know it, and those who do and care, have no moral way of dealing with it, even if the power to do so was available, that’s why we do not have an infallible political system. (Of interest, it seems that the Amish have tried hard to avoid this situation).

    Hence, I do not see any of it as a ‘New’ form. It is just that finally there is a big enough consequence and voice. Even if we surface after the ills, we will still have the original ‘sin’! In truth, (mine of course!), the original ‘sin’ originates in the way we deal with our own feeling of vulnerability which causes our fears. Each has to decide how much they are prepared to think of others in relation to themselves. This issue cannot be explained in simple terms, probably because it has to be realized on a personal basis. To be honest, I’m not sure that I’ve ever really tried to, most people get lost when I begin!, and I do not think I can try here, even with your obvious interest. In fact, we only have power to develop our own integrity. Social pressure and laws is all we have for those who have, for whatever reason, not yet made such choices themselves, or not been able to live up to them. In either case, it is the intention and aim that is more important.

    So, back to the mundane machine. I do not see a perfect human race! Oh, but, we could be in the making! I think we are, as a race, caught in the error of fear. But as individuals, we can try to understand the fear within us all and how it grows, and try to avoid it as much as possible in ourselves. I do think that any attempts to complain about ‘the monster’ in the more powerful positions, (which become more evident by their size), are still worthy, even though ultimately, they are simply showing us the consequences of all our actions when we do not properly and fairly use our resources. ‘Manners maketh man’ has SUCH significance. We will, no doubt go through more ‘phases’, and either put an end to humans or continue to the cataclysmic event that the scientists tell us of. Then we may discover if there really is a benevolent, omnipotent creator! Let’s hope it has been worthwhile, otherwise, if the love we do experience is only temporary, it can never justify the injustice and horrors of the world. I live in hope and with the clearest conscience I feel able to create for myself, by understanding as much about this issue as I can, in order to try to add as little harm as I can. I think that’s covered my ‘weltanshauung’, have I spelt it correctly?

    I look forward to any reply.
    With very best wishes, Karen.
    (Hope I’ve not made too many slips in choice of words).

  14. Karen Williams February 18, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    Stefan, I knew I’d forget to add something! Along with the Amish, think of the few tribes we occasionally find in the remotest parts of the earth, where they haven’t yet developed our ‘go-getters’ beyond their inherent natural abilities. They do not suffer from our Great disease.

    • Karen Williams February 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      STEFAN: (I’ve just summarised this for my hubby and see that it helps the same discussion we’ve been having, so, I’ll offer it to you.

      The Anabaptists (lets say AB’s), broke from the some other protestants because they believed one can only be recognised as a Christian when you choose to be one when you are an adult (perfectly sensible I’d have thought). The Amish broke from these when the AB’s allowed people who acted against the rules, to stay in the group instead of being shunned (quite reasonable I’d say providing you allow re-entry if there has been recognition of the need for the rules)– it’s to keep the important matters paramount and clear and just the same as our current prison system or it other words ‘If you’re not with me, you’re against me’ (which does not mean I can attack you!)

      Since then, factions have divided amongst the Amish (including the Mennonites), basically over how much ‘development’ is acceptable. The problem with ‘development’ (this is now touching my fundamental world view), is that when something (in my terms this ‘something’ is the driving force of the‘go-getters’ ie., the desire for more & more), gets TOO big (developed) for itself, it frequently (it may be argued that it is not just frequent but inevitable, but that’s another question), loses sight of the most important matter which, in short is its own INTEGRITY. This can happen (in different ways), to both perpetrator and victim and is seen most easily now in our ‘developed’ world.

      Do you know the very old fable of a creature who meets other creatures and admires the various things on each that he does not have. He wishes for them and ultimately his desires are fulfilled. BUT, he one day sees his reflection in some water and he is HORRIFIED at the ‘monster’ he has now become as a consequence of his desires. He regrets taking more than his allotted powers. Does this not spark some recognition of our discussion? (It’s about fear, ego & humility).
      The recent TV program of a group of UK youngsters living for a while amongst the various Amish groups has shown a self-indulged young UK girl, who, having seen another way has begun to consider that the other values may be more significant that her make-up (I summarise). This is the beginnings of recognition of the fundamentals which build our ‘integrity’ (the creature we are designed to be and not the one we try to be). This is also stated in the Adam and Eve scenario and in SO many ways throughout history.
      The problem in part, is that many of those oiling our ‘system’ or ‘machine’ are the ‘creature’ in the fable (I unfairly think of the Branson’s, the ‘Dragon’s’ in their Den (TV), the Lord Sugar’s, the Supermarket’s – the list of course goes on, but they have become the biggest of the go-getters and, I think, therefore make it harder for the rest not to get involved unwittingly and they, (the rest), perhaps have had less reason or opportunity to consider the whole issue, and in this way only, may be considered to have been less responsible – another question but not really relevant as judging is not the issue). This returns to the reason why devout and fundamental groups try hard (making errors along the way also), to stay away from those who require fast (not thought through) and constant ‘development’ and, on the greater need for understanding and even perhaps constant forgiveness, though this is not possible by those who are not strong enough in their own convictions (another topic!), but all connected with the fundamental issue if integrity.
      Hope this helps!
      Regards, Karen (by the way I’m not advocating anything for you or anyone else because I truly believe as ‘Desiderata’ says – ‘No doubt, the world is unfolding as it should’ and the rest of ‘Desiderata’s’ worth noting too, don’t you think).

  15. Stefan Thiesen March 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Dear Karen,
    I apologize for the extreme delay. To be honest to tell you all the thoughts you triggered in me would almost require me to write a book-length answer. So maybe I try a brain-storm-telegram style. Amish and indigenous people… I used to live in Hawaii for a while during my grad student days, and I was lucky to make some native Hawaiian friends. It very much was an eye opening healing experience for me. I studied Astronomy and Earth Systems Science back then, and it had never occurred to me that there might be anything sinister about Astronomy. Then Hawaiian friends told me that the Observatory facilities on Mauna Kea stood on sacred grounds. They were built on native Hawaiian soil – without even bothering to ask the locals. This is pretty much the same as if St. Peter’s Dome would be torn down to build a bank or a factory in its place. But my main point is a different one. Back then I realized that there are people who absolutely have no intention of becoming „developed“. Two native Hawaiian activists, Micheal Kioni Dudley and Keoni Kealoha Agard wrote in their book „The Case for Hawaiian Sovereignty“:

    „Since the time of Captain Cook, people coming to the islands have transplanted their competitive Western activities here. This has been fine for them. But as the years have passed, and as newcomers have become predominant, they have attempted to impose their culture and their arenas of competition on the Hawaiians. It has not worked. Instead of realizing that there is nothing at all inside the Hawaiian fisherman, for instance, which would make him in any way whatsoever want to wear a business suit and compete in the stock market, many Westerner’s seem to insist on just that. One finds an Intolerance towards those whose goals do not include living in modern housing, driving cars, having huge bank accounts, speaking perfect English, and involving themselves in the rush of American society and business.“

    There is much more, but I want to make a point that goes beyond the Amish culture and the „Go Getters“ who, according to your line of thoughts, we all could become, depending on circumstances. Obviously people across the global – albeit genetically nearly identical – differ in culture and physical appearance. And among individuals character, talent and intelligence differ, all of which are fuzzy concepts. Our 3 daughters for example all are extremely different. Different talents, different characters. Our oldest, for example, was suspected to be hyperactive. But no – the psychologist just said she has a lively character. When she is outside and physically active, she is as happy as a kite. Swimming, running, climbing, martial arts. In her the island girl is coming through. I guess 400 years ago in her mother’s native Island environment in the Visayas, she would have been perfectly adapted. In modern society she is not. And on average island people have different inborn talents than people who were shaped by European societies. If we had to compete in Polynesian traditional arenas, each of us would fail miserably. But – our society is the winner, who takes it all. And some are just left behind. Their skills and abilities are not of interest, because they provide no service for „the economy“.

    Here I propose yet another thought. A provocation for some, but I more and more think there might be truth to it: I do not think that all of us could become your „Go Getters“. To a certain extend, maybe, but I presume that most normal people, if they are free in their decisions, at one point simple have enough. Many successful business people at one point turn to something else, to art, activism, and music – cultural activities in the widest sense. But some never stop. Some keep going, mercilessly exploiting others for their own benefit and grandeur. I am, unfortunately, pretty much convinced that in many cases mental disorders – or perhaps natural personality variations – play a significant role in this game. There is, for example, a lot of research on psychopathy, and it looks as if there is a strong genetic factor behind it. It is a long shot, but I could imagine that being superficially charming while without mercy and remorse might have been a very significant evolutionary advantage in pre-historic and even in historic times. According to some estimates up to 5% of humans may have sociopathic or psychopathic character traits. See for example the works of Robert Hares: http://www.hare.org/

    The scary part is that that according to Hare and others our various hierarchies and arenas of competition favor these character traits and people with psychopathic characteristics concentrate up the ladders in those hierarchies. If this should be true, and there is quite some evidence to back the hypothesis, then it would mean that the fate of mankind to a large extend is in the hands of people who do not even have a concept of ethical or moral behavior, who are merciless and never feel remorse for anything they do. If this is true, it is not possible to negotiate with them. If this is true, it is an absolute nightmare. And it would explain in part how wars and concentration camps and the Gulag and genocides came and come about.

    Now genes are not the whole story, but they seem to play a stronger role than previously thought. My main point here is that we may NOT be masters of our own fate, of our own integrity, of our own mind, thoughts, and emotions. It may be that all – or some – of us are genetically pre-determined and imprinted by experience to such an extent that very little plasticity remains for change. So what I want to say: it IS complicated. We just don’t know what is really going on. But I more and more have the impression that something really sinister is driving our species. Driving it to…? And yet at the same time – there are good news in even Hare’s work: 95% of humans are the „normal“ and cooperative type.

    Well – enough of my chaotic rambling now. I elsewhere wrote that to me it feels as if our growth system with its manufactured demand, its interest upon interest and the risk-management that subjects the weak to higher interest rates and the strong to lower – is akin to psychopathic character traits forged into mathematical algorithms. Algorithms that now form the foundation of the so called global economy. I am afraid that no matter how much we change individually – it will have very little impact on this planetary machine. We then just step outside “the system” and stop partaking in the game. And the game simply ignores us. Unimpressed.

    I know – what I wrote here is not exactly a song of joy…

    • dichasium March 5, 2012 at 1:25 am #

      Thank you very much Stefan. I shall try to give a reply of some sort as soon as possible. Regards, Karen (dichasium – Not sure how, but it sometime switched back to my avatar! )

  16. Stefan Thiesen March 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    But speaking of “song”. There was a poem I wrote, back in Hawaii in the mid 90s, which points in the same direction. It is called “Green Demons Rising”:

    Cheerful spirits dream along in nocturnal waves of the future, somewhere, near distant tropical islands. Money does not bother them, despite all that happened. But they do know well that this is not a joke! It is not a deep secret that we could have changed the world for good – but why do something, only because we could?

    Psychopathic Lords wade through the shallows of our collective mind, for no other purpose but to joyfully fathom the abyss of pain. They would love to dance on my grave, but I just walk away, because I realized there will be no more dreams.

    There is a time to firmly hold on to the pen and strike with bladed words like a Samurai charging his enemies. A time to live honestly and fearless and deprived of hope, admitting your guilt, admitting all that you did, and worse, perhaps, that you did not. Nobody can explain those things that silently collide in the darkness, forever changing the trajectory of compassion. Amidst the pitch black nothingness an insight passes, gently poking me like a friendly dog’s wet nose, a gentle dream, suggesting with vanilla smell and the sound of a mermaids bell that one day even pain will come to an end.

    But come here now. Sit down with me by the fire, you fools! And be it only for the sake of tradition, vaguely recalling those distant moments of happiness. Our silhouettes against the dying amber of the autumn sun. Heavy we breath and then we see them, smell them, those green little demons just outside the reach of our minds. Now they are not important anymore, because there is no reason to continue walking while you fall.

    Mist rises in the cold light of a full November moon, and finally you let your resistance pass without remorse and pain. Once I used to be an expert for those things that come to us in dreams, and I do not think I was the first who saw the inevitable. Yet I still do hope that never will I see the setting sun without at least a maybe of tears, without at least a glimpse of faith that something could change, one day, before I become the same and like them will indulge in the kill and the hunt and the slaughter of beings and worlds as a game. Never before did I see the shattered pieces of my dreams spread out, sparkling splinters on the ground, and never did I understand the reasons. But now on this cold and misty morning after a full moon night, an apprehension rises within me, hot and heavy as liquid lead, that they might be resurrected, restored in a much bigger, a different and an as yet invisible form…

    (c) 1994-2012 Stefan Thiesen (some rights reserved, attribution share alike).

    • dichasium March 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

      Dear Stefan
      You have taken up my point that ‘but for circumstances, we could all become go-getters’. I had added this quickly, to avoid any possibility of appearing self-righteous. Hence, whilst I mean it entirely, I did not elaborate. I think this must have led you down the wrong path because I certainly did mean ‘circumstances’ to cover genetics and all.

      But, now that you’ve raised this matter, I would like to add something. It is interesting to discover that genes may be responsible for our traits but I also think we can go further and consider the ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario. I feel that long term fear may affect our brain in either/or, its chemical action, connecting pathways and even into DNA, genes and then of course, inherited traits. I am suggesting that fear may ultimately, through generations, produce genes which can be sufficient in themselves, or triggered by more fear to make us behave with psychopathic traits, when we get the right mix of genes/experiences. Hence, the chicken and egg, or, cause and effect questions. Likewise, I believe many are capable of discovering the cause of fears and can use WILL power to fight fear and become more co-operative and understanding people. (Martyr’s being those who will give their very lives for this). Following my line of thought, this would also add to the gene pool and help towards a more caring, less selfish, even less psychopathic type society. Of course we no doubt add to or subtract from the effect in our every day actions too. In conclusion, I believe the WORLDLY sad state of affairs and confusion is due to an ACCUMULATED reduction in the use, and will to use, free-will and will power, regardless of each INDIVIDUAL’s STARTing point and lot in life. I’ve previously stated that I believe the system of ‘developed’ societies contributes greatly to this happening. The system aids our confusion, loss of dignity and integrity, and hardens self-interest.

      In short, I think that, overall, we’ve agreed on much, including your final point about what is directing the course of things on earth. I’m not quick to take optimism from Hare’s 95% of co-operative types, because I think it is, ultimately, a matter of the enormous power in the few controlling groups rather than the numbers in the rest. However, I did previously end one of my replies with the thoughts in ‘Desiderata’ – ‘No doubt the world is unfolding as it should’, because I can conceive how good can ultimately be working to its own greater end, and whether or not I am part of it, I am as confident as I can be, that I have tried to work for good in my own small way while given the opportunity. This makes me more content and removes anxiety, when I apply it. For this, and for others, it is certainly worth enjoying the good and struggling on with the bad, regardless of ultimate outcome. I have the impression that you can feel the same about yourself.

      On your poem – you certainly have literary skills – a beautiful way with words. I’m sorry that I am not in a position to dissect each line with you! It does have the melancholic theme but it’s interspersed with hope. This is my favourite line – ‘Amidst the pitch black nothingness an insight passes, gently poking me like a friendly dog’s wet nose, a gentle dream, suggesting with vanilla smell and the sound of a mermaids bell that one day even pain will come to an end’ – These moments of insight are priceless, aren’t they. Perhaps this is our will uniting with ‘goodness’ and can come about regardless of all else that we can actually see and understand. ‘Even pain will come to an end’ has echoes of the bible’s Revelation ch.21 v.4). Because, there is an over-riding melancholy, I must tell you that I do believe that ‘evil’ or ignorance or fear (whatever the root cause of our pain), ultimately destroys itself but love has no option but to expand because that is its inherent nature – love is ultimately the victor!

      Thank you for the pleasant interchange of thoughts. Please continue if you wish to.
      Yours truly, Karen.

      (By the way, your oldest daughter reminds me of myself. I am 60 but still 11 years of age at heart. I’ve never really grown up (become worldly sophisticated) but I feel the joy of experiencing the outside freedom and balance has helped me find my values – I hope she does too – she has a good father to help her).

      • Stefan Thiesen March 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

        I see your point, Karen: you have a much broader concept of “circumstances” than I assumed. Yesterday I watched Star Wars, the part where Anakin Skywalker turns into Darth Vader. Now we are talking about entertainment here, but I had an interesting thought, nonetheless. Both – the evil followers of the dark side and the noble “Jedi”, fighting for the well being of all living things, may be the same thing. Perhaps, like with many other aspects of reality, the so-called psychopathy might be a neutral character trait that is shaped by the individual’s upbringing. It was repeatedly said in the movies that Anakin, who later fell to the dark side, had been “too old” to become a Jedi. The imprinting had already happened. Maybe it is not appropriate to start out with a piece of popular fiction, but what if that so-called psychopathy is nothing but raw mental strength, and what it does, depends on the directions a child receives. The morel codex it is brought up with. The love it receives along the way. So perhaps Gandhi, a person of most adorable strength, could have become a violent monster or a greed driven entrepreneur, if, indeed, the circumstances had been different. So maybe the difference between saint and psychopath really is just their experience, environment, upbringing. We, after all, own a Pitbull of now 8 years who is the sweetest and friendliest dog we ever had, sweeter and friendlier even than our Collie, Bobtail and Newfoundlander of past times. Amie (it’s already in the name) of course almost grew up on our laps, cuddled and patted and pampered like no other dog before.

        From another angle – maybe the 95% even are more of a concern, following their trodden path even if it should be left, following any strong leader they encounter, even if he or she belongs to the type that better should not be followed… the power is too concentrated, and many are all too willing to accept that.

        I agree with your observation about the “developed world”. That “The system aids our confusion, loss of dignity and integrity, and hardens self-interest.” Capitalism. Individualism. It often feels as if we are made to believe that even personal relationships, even love and family ties, are in fact shaped by “isms”. As if some sort of economic thinking controls everything, as if even love and caring grow out of self interest. I don’t believe it. Like you, I think (/I want to believe) that love is the ultimate victor. Sometimes when we watch a movie together I ask my daughters at the end “And why did the good guys win?” and the choir sings “Because they stood together!”. Narcistic thinking ultimately leads nowhere. Compassion does the trick, and compassion is a form of love – or grows from it and nurtures it. Compassion and love are about opening the arms, about extending the hands. About the good guys standing together. The dog’s friendly nose. A success story by the way – the friendship between an ape and a wolf.

        I hope you won’t ever grow up, Karen! ☺

        • dichasium March 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

          Thanks again Stefan. Maybe the last words between us, at least on this subject, but all I can say is ‘Lovely, just lovely’. God (if he’s there), bless you.

          • Stefan Thiesen March 6, 2012 at 11:22 am #

            I will check out the book, Karen. I just read a comment somewhere stating that “Psychopaths” are the next step in human evolution, and I had to laugh. I think that compassion, empathy and the ability to cooperate rank infinitely higher – not only ethically and morally but also on the practical side. Desiderata, indeed. And it is quite independent of the type of religion we endorse. I for myself feel closer to Epikuros, Laotse and Buddha then to the three book religions, but there are eternal truths to be found behind every corner – and in any grain of sand. Your remarks on fear really triggered something in me, and last night I picked up one of the Epicurus books from my library. A collection titled “Überwindung der Angst”. Interestingly the title already can mean many things, although they all point in the same direction. Überwinden… it can mean overpower, conquer, negotiate, bear down, break, transcend, go beyond, surmount, vanquish, overcome… And in this context it can mean all these things.

            “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
            it is still a beautiful world.
            Be cheerful.
            Strive to be happy.”

            So be it.

            If you are interested, I’d be happy to stay in touch. To avoid posting email addresses publicly: I have a contact form on my web page. I’d be happy to hear from you again:

            http://thiesen.webnode.com/kontakt/

        • dichasium March 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

          S’mee agin Stefan, Just to say, A book I ordered arrived today and I’ve just the Preface and two more pages. I Think it’s going to be just up my street! So, I just wanted to tell you in case it’s ever worth reading for you too. ‘In Tune With the Infinite’ Ralph Waldo Trine. (ISBN 978-1-60450-027-1)
          Very best wishes, Karen.

  17. John April 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Look at what’s happening to California’s Central Valley—once “the world’s breadbasket,” and now a dust bowl. All due to Agenda 21.

    • Jeremy April 11, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      John, please explain why Agenda 21 has turned Central Valley into a dustbowl – and see my last paragraph above.

  18. Prassoon Suryadas September 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    In order to understand this resolution, you have to understand from where this idea came from and who are working behind this. Search in youtube for “Agenda 21 EXPLAINED full version”

    • Jeremy September 10, 2012 at 11:53 am #

      This post is about that very thing. The people behind the resolution are the UN, but I’m guessing you haven’t bothered to read the post before commenting?

      • Prassoon Suryadas September 11, 2012 at 3:37 am #

        Had you bothered to watch that video you wouldn’t have posted a comment like this. I know it is a bit long video…. but all of your concerns are answered in it quoting real incidents. What you have mentioned is only the blue print, the real action plan documentation is 10 times bigger than the blue print! If you are honest about your concerns its worth spending some time on it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GykzQWlXJs

  19. Martin August 25, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    ALERT, ABOVE ARTICLE IS A RED HERRING, ALERT!!!

    You can’t call something a ‘conspiracy theory’ when it is out in the open. When all the players are exposed and their plans are made to look democratic but are decided in secret by unelected private interests we call that a ‘conspiracy.’ There is a major difference between a ‘conspiracy theory’ and a ‘conspiracy’ and we should be able to discern that by now. The UN major players (Security Council countries) are all involved with both big businesses and Government. Many people these days don’t see the problem with that but lets break it down in simple terms. Private interests own International Central Banks which in turn influence world economies by manipulating currencies, funding wars, and investing in infrastructure with advantageous loan systems (none of which are sustainable in any true sense of the world). That is a MASSIVE amount of responsibility for PRIVATE interests to wield. I sure hope they are good people with our best interests at heart… oh wait did I say wars? This is not a theory this is how the ‘powers that be’ run our planet.

    Agenda 21 looks great on the surface, but study the language it offers carefully and also see what initiatives are put in place to ensure that Agenda 21 is implemented. If implemented it will radically change the way we think, act and live for better or worse. My first concern is that Agenda 21 has been drafted by people with suspect morals and business practices and is supported by numerous Oligarchical business interests. The UN has no legal power, BUT it’s members are VERY powerful and Agenda 21 is their baby. In the long run it will benefit them (the existing powers that be). Study of this subject has confirmed that all is not as it seems. Any time you see the word ‘sustainability’ in a government document rest assured it is an Agenda 21 initiative by another name.

    Our UN representatives don’t represent us they represent big businesses. Free clean energy, self sufficient communities, local sourcing are all things that can’t be easily monitored or monetized by a One World Government, therefore don’t fit the UN’s module for globalism. Look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and honestly ask yourself if we need a one world Government, a New World Order to achieve those ideals. The New World Order is not a joke or a ‘conspiracy theory’ it is an openly admitted and well documented ‘conspiracy’ that goes back many decades and has been referred to publicly by many World leaders as their ultimate goal and the next logical step in Humanity’s development. And they seem pretty sure of it too.

    Look at who is in the UN (particularly the ‘Security Council’ nations) and then look at their business partners (usually in the unsustainable business of big oil, pharmaceuticals, energy, planning etc.). Follow the money people and you will see the true aim of the UN. Don’t stop at the UN, look into your own Government. Did you ever notice how, at the end of their political careers, every major politician has a cushy job at the very same corporations or subsidiaries that they either fought or supported during their political careers? This is not democracy, it never has been and never will be. It seems we should get together in our communities and advance TRUE sustainability at a local level. Then we wouldn’t need to rely on monopolistic businessmen, Oligarchs and politicians of dubious background and suspect aspirations for prescriptions on how best to live.

    The YouTube video “Agenda 21 EXPLAINED full version ” presented by John Anthony is in plain English and is extensively referenced throughout.

    John Anthony has some strong views about what it means to be American but essentially he is talking about the principles of liberty and freedom. You may not live in the US but rest assured if the initiatives in John’s video are put in place in 16% of America and it is seen by the powers that be as ‘successful’, well then then Canada, the UK, Australia and others won’t be far behind in adopting these practices.

    Smart meters are already on the way in the UK and that is a direct Agenda 21 initiative. Why do some people have a problem with smart meters? Smart meters are intended to form part of home NETWORKS in which everyday appliances, such as kettles, toasters and refrigerators, will be microchipped and transmit detailed usage data to the power companies. Your Smart meter determines your power consumption digitally via software, it is no longer analogue and verifiable by anyone other than your Smart meter provider. Smart meters represent automation and total control over all of your energy consumption and the information collected from all your appliances can be sold to third party companies. Instead of investing in environmentally sound alternatives to fossil fuels our Governments have been cooking these babies up. Again I sure hope the people who hatched this up have our best interests at heart but then I do have a question. Why do we need these things in the first place? Anybody?

    Do we need to take a look at our local practices to make them more environmentally considerate? YES. There is great film called ‘Garbage Warrior’ about Mike Reynolds which details his struggle against Bureaucracy to simply develop new ways of living in harmony with nature. Also Look into PERMACULTURE if you are interested in true sustainability which means ‘self-sufficiency’. We all want ‘sustainability’ but the UN manipulates that word and ALL of it’s affiliated Governments words to no end. To see what may be in store have a look at what things the UN describes as unsustainable. It’s very interesting…

    Agenda 21 is not the answer to a conspiracy, it’s where your questions should begin. Is it Humanity that has caused the perceived problems we face today or have our World leaders led us up the garden path and told us that we are to blame for their gross negligence? Look at any initiatives by organizations created for the implementation of Agenda 21 and see what the endgame is. Does it have the best interest of humanity in mind?

    We as a race of human beings seemingly don’t do so well if left to our own devices. We seem to work better together in communities with responsible and integrated leadership. Us humans, we are not sick self-destructive lunatics but we are easily manipulated by our ‘leaders’ into thinking we are. If we are in a system that projects money as God then you can expect degeneracy for sure though and having seen this you would think our Government would curtail immoral banking and business practices and introduce a system that operates in the best interest of the common man. What we are stuck with at the moment id the petro-dollar which only serves one group of people… not us!

    Reliance on money has led to a litany of evils perpetrated by people who have no other concept of worth or currency than to gain power through the accumulation of money and the influence it can garner. I am not saying get rid of money just that our current world system of basing currencies worth on the petro-dollar shouldn’t be the only option for trade. Local currency can be developed to support and ensure the stability of local economies.

    With the advent of modern technologies it is easy to help people live in ‘off-the-grid’ communities that use resources responsibly and educate their communities about beneficial practices. Practices that responsibly integrate with natural systems, like permaculture, and still address all of our modern need’s. We would be connected to the world via the internet but independent and self sustaining in our own communities. Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ seems like the place to start when talking about the individuals needs. In order to find out what the community truly needs this discussion needs to take place at home, in our communities, on our streets, in our schools, and in non-biased media not at some clandestine meeting attended by various and sundry characters who may not have our best interests at heart.

    We are smart enough to know better than to endorse Agenda 21 and it’s derivative initiatives. We can’t just gloss over Agenda 21 as though it were some innocuous initiative drawn up by bumbling fools that have let it slip their minds. If you are truly behind this and do know the full implications of what is to come then I suggest you reexamine your stance for the sake of our future on this wonderful planet.

    Martin

    • Jeremy August 25, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      I’ve seen John Anthony’s piece. It’s paranoid scaremongering nonsense, telling people Agenda 21 is going to redistribute America’s wealth to poor countries, and that skiing is going to be banned, and that humans will be evicted from 50% of the US.

      So I repeat my invitation in the last paragraph of the post – go and download Agenda 21, and read it. See if any of those things are in there. I’ve looked, and I can’t find them, but don’t take my word for it.
      http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/Agenda21.pdf

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  21. pokemon mmo December 27, 2013 at 1:52 am #

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