Memories......

Sitting on my favorite chair looking into my little garden creation makes me happy. Each part was created with a happy memory or an angry memory or a sad memory, reflecting episodes as I lived my life. This garden takes me home; takes me to different places; causes me to reflect on my life now and then; what was there for me once and what it is there for me now.  When did I start the life I lead now? Interest in feminism and the social welfare of others was awakened early in my young adult life. I came to understand how poorly the majority of people (mostly women, workers and minorities) are served by societies structured along exploitative and patriarchal lines, and how much improved are their lives in societies with some level of regard for social welfare, labour laws and universal suffrage.  I was always especially concerned, given my personal history, for the welfare of women, and I worked to support their struggles for workplace and educational equality, and to remove them from abusive relationships by accompanying them into whatever situation required my support to help argue and champion for a woman’s right to make her own choices and determine her own fate.  Using principles learned from historical and contemporary heroes of social activism and inspired by their examples, I developed my own skill set of advocacy, counselling and activist organization and implementation geared to the unique cultural setting found in strongly patriarchal Iran. I believe each stage of our life is a journey that builds and shapes our character, and gives a clearer understanding of the value of each individual life. When I was younger I thought education and skills training were important in laying strong foundations for a subsequent serious and successful career. At this point in my life I learned that, yes, a good degree will help bring success, but not necessarily an appreciation for the value of life or an respectful understanding of the world around us. It feels as if for some of us, education is a tool for gaining more power and using other people and resources. I have learned that most western well-educated Politicians/Economists/CEOs are working only towards their own wealth and power at the expense of other people and of our planet. Inflation is being experienced by all of us as the cost of food, rent, clothing, and other essentials rises faster than incomes. With minimum wages still at $8 to $10, it makes you wonder how many people living under the poverty line can survive. The world's population is increasing so fast that we should worry how we can provide food for that many people, given that there is a finite amount of arable land. At the same time land speculation keeps accomodation at a price that the average person cannot easily afford. How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?

According to Maslow, human needs can be ordered in a hierarchy from lower to higher, as follows: physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self-actualization. To activate a higher level of need, it is necessary that the lower needs have been reasonably satisfied. However, when we look at the order of our world today and how it is structured, we realize that the higher levels of need now seem to be greed and power, feeding a selfish and self-obsessed focus on doing anything to get what one wants. Seven billion of us are scattered on this planet, and no matter in which culture we were raised, to a rough approximation we live in a three-class world: corporate and political elites (ensuring the rules generally favour themselves); the upper and lower middle-class (public service workers, engineers, doctors, nurses, and other functionally employed people serving themselves and the elites);  and the poor (living on and below the poverty-line). In my opinion the biggest problem is the middle-class; why? It is the middle-class who has sufficient education to be able to understand what is happening in the world, yet that same group is so carefree, unsympathetic and indifferent to what is happening to their home planet and its people. They are the ones who allow heads of states to get away with everything and anything, and tacitly support them as they dream of perhaps one day somehow joining the ranks of the elites. They are so busy with the distractions of shopping, vacations, and entertaiment. Oh sure; they do talk about world’s problems at dinner with a glass of wine, but after dinner they go on with their lives and dearly want to forget who is running the world and how they are doing it. Stephen Hawkins said: the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance but it is the illusion of knowledge. With the birth of the internet, sciences, politics, wars and conspiracies, history, and anything one may want to know about is on-line. Potentially each one of us can educate ourselves, examine every part of what we learn, analyse it and formulate action to do the right thing, and live an honest life for a better world for everyone. But so much information is swirling through our heads, that we can rattle it off as if playing Jeopardy, but we can't distill it into firm principles that can be put into practice in creating a sustainable, equitable society.

While putting this page together, the large Japan earthquake occured and made me think how, with all its advanced technology and economy, Japan was still so vulnerable when it comes to nature’s whims. This is true, of course, for all other countries, such as was illustrated with the devastating hurricane Katrina. I wondered how advanced we might be in understanding and mitigating these natural tramas if the world's powerful countries would spend on such research even a quarter of the money they are spending on their killing machines; perhaps many fewer people would die and much damage could be averted. Let's start our learning progress with how much heads of states are spending on killing machines and how little is left for everything else....

Nasreen Pejvack-Copyright© 2011 All Rights Reserved