What do we fear and why do we fear it?

With everything going off in the world lately, and especially the last few days, it is hard not to see the fear around us. Leftists fear guns. Right wingers fear being unarmed. Gay people and Muslims fear media attack and untargeted crime. Parents fear for their children’s wellbeing. Westerners fear terrorism. Animal rights activists fear for gorillas. Feminists fear rape. MRAs fear false rape accusations. Everyone is afraid.

And, naturally, when we are faced with these images and asked “Do you not fear this?”, it is hard to say we don’t. Who doesn’t fear being shot, or losing their means of self-defense? Who doesn’t fear being targeted for random violence? Who doesn’t fear for their children, their friends, their families, their pets? Who doesn’t feel scared when they worry that these things may happen to them?

But the thing is, we fear these things because we are letting them into our homes. When we turn on the news, we invite fear. When we blog about our fears, we invite fear. When we have people round who constantly argue and bring up fear, we invite fear. When we seek out negative imagery and harsh realities, we invite fear. These things are fine in moderation. But when we build our lives around watching the news, guarding against people, setting up arguments with friends and relatives and becoming a cynic, we have no time for anything but fear.

At the end of the day, your chances of being shot, having your weapons taken from you or being raped are pretty low. Most of us are fortunate to live in a world that is generous, abundant and kind. However these big, rare fears overtake us and make us put aside the smaller fears, the things which will actually change our lives. How deeply do you fear defaulting on a loan? How many times a day do you worry that you are letting your mind, body or soul waste? How much do you argue about and plan against unexpected bills, car repairs or vet costs? These are things that strike us every year, sometimes more often. Yet we give them very little thought.

Recently I have had to get a washing machine fixed, then replaced. I have had to work hard with my diet to care for the life inside me. I have had to keep the dog from poisoning itself in the garden. I have had to keep my pea plants alive through torrential rain. I have had to fight for access to my tax records. These may not be big fears for you. But they are far more likely events than dying in a mass shooting, being raped or losing your child to a gorilla. And you need to be ready for them.

Of course, it’s important to stay abreast of the news. After all, if we look away for too long these distant threats may become reality. However we also need to calculate what we fear and how much of it we let in. We ought to know what happened in Pulse night club. We ought to know what the current stance on gun ownership is. We ought to know why Harambe was killed. We ought to know whether the UK is leaning in or out of Europe. But we cannot make this information or this fear our lives. Because they aren’t.

Our lives are filled with far more wonder, far more mundane fears, far more hard graft and petty annoyances than they are with extreme violence or crime or freak accidents. So once the news is off or the article is read or the conversation is had or the petition is signed, we should be able to cast aside these concerns and get on with our days. It’s all there really is to do.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
Advertisements

3 Types Of Respect.

To say that respect is a hard to grasp concept is an understatement. Men view respect as acknowledging superiority, women view it as showing basic decency. Superiors view it as simple obedience, underlings as submission. In one culture it may imply to show deference, in another to show affection.

And this is not because respect is an elusive, undefined concept. But because we all have a rigid definition of what respect means to us, formed by the culture we are immersed in and reinforced by our peers.

However, all definitions of respect can be almost neatly divided into three categories. Understanding these three different categories can assist us in everyday social situations. They will help us to deduce which definition of respect a person is employing, to work out how to talk with them. They will help us to determine whether justice is being done or not. And they will make it easier to negotiate for better treatment from those around you.

1: Respect for your fellow man.

Commonly used by: women, children (who have learned it from their mothers and not yet altered the meaning), some EFL speakers from EU and African nations.

Meaning: “To show basic courtesy, decency. To not interfere with someone’s basic human rights. To not harm someone else’s property or make their lives uncomfortable.”

This definition is the most basic form of respect and, to many, does not mean respect at all. It is based on the concept of inclusion and exclusion and simply means that you will accept and treat the respected person as a part of your group, rather than as an outsider.

Example: “Everyone deserves to be treated with basic respect and kindness.”

How to display: Do not insult or attack anyone, be considerate of other’s feelings and ideas, give room for everyone, do not show undue preference.

2: Peer respect.

Or “voluntary respect”.

Commonly used by: blue collar men and women, between friends, fans.

Meaning: “To acknowledge a superior or equal trait or ability in someone whom you are not required to show admiration for.”

This definition  refers to the act of observing a peer’s greater ability at cooking, stronger morals or similar tastes. It is based on the concept of hard-earned reward and means that if you work hard, in some way you will be repaid, even if not in resources.

Example: “Respect is earned, not given or taken.”

How to display: Treat those who you like or admire (for whatever reason) as slightly closer friends than they are, vocally acknowledge their ability, defer to their superiority only when they are relevant.

3: Enforced respect.

Commonly used by: white collar workers, students, teenagers, religious adherents, EFL speakers from Latin-American and Asian nations.

Meaning: “To defer to and obey a person based on a culturally predetermined rank.”

This definition refers to the culturally, legally and personally enforced subordination to someone whom your culture has placed above you. It is based on the concept that rank earns certain rights (might makes right) and that you must follow your intellectual, moral, skilled or physical superiors.

Example: “You must show your boss respect at all times.”

How to display: Work out the group hierarchy, obey the highest individual, do not use bad language around them, or disagree with them openly.

When we put these three concepts together we end up with respect as a triangular diagram, with everyone’s definitions sitting somewhere between the three. But based on associated words, what we know about the person and the context in which they use the word, we can work out what they actually mean, rather than assume their meaning and ours is identical, or even similar.

What does respect mean to you?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

We have so much goodness…

…that we can’t even see it any more.

We have a genuine perception problem.

Why do people live on £100,000, £500,000, £1,000,000 annual incomes and still end up short of change at the end of every week?

Why do third wave feminist scream and cry about misogyny when a man calls them pretty, holds a door for them or asks them on a date?

Why do nationalists and separatists live immersed in negativity despite the extreme safety and freedoms the West experiences, unprecedented and unparalleled?

Why do liberals insist that there is no white, Western, and especially no American culture to experience?

Why do anti-war groups obsess over military budgets when, thanks to globalism, we live in a time of greater peace than the majority of humans have ever experienced?

Why do racists blame their every problem on affirmative action, racial difference, race wars, migration and different-race leaders?

Why do sexists blame their every problem on the other sex, on institutional pressures, on religions and blogs and daytime TV?

Why do we make it to the very top, become wealthier, more attractive, more powerful and respected than anyone, and still find no joy in it?

Why do we take it into our hands to solve global problems through minute activities and to stress over activism and letting everyone know about it?

Why do we obsess over semantics and definitions, trying to configure ourselves as “Redpill Alpha, Libertarian, Animal-rights Activist, Separatist, Nationalist, Open-Minded, Buddhist Bloggers” or “Feminist, Anarcho-Capitalist, Painting, Demigirl, Wolfkin, Faekin, Body Positive, Working Class Dancers”?

Because we have absolutely everything we could possibly need.

Think about it.

In this world, a man can be sexually assaulted and can find some comfort in the form of online communities and support centres whose existence he may have never been aware of before this time. In this world, a person can be born after suffering an extremely rare prenatal abnormality, where their brain map does not reflect their body and they can then have parts of themselves amputated or altered to make them feel better. In this world, a girl can be obsessed with toy trucks and cars and can grow up to be a grease monkey, or a vehicular engineer. In this world a person with schizophrenia can be medicated and assisted to a point where they can return to the working world posing no more risk to themselves and others than a healthy human. In this world any person can educate themselves beyond even their wildest imaginations, through university, through apprenticeships, through books and the internet and support groups. In this world a homosexual couple can receive every state benefit afforded to heterosexual couples and enjoy a life of peace and quiet if they choose to do so. In this world a family can lose their home to a fire or flood and receive the support of millions of people to help them rebuild their house, restore their valuables and feed their children and pets. In this world anyone can retire into a fantasy land and live out their wildest, most unreachable, unachievable dreams through books and TV, films and games, role play and blogging.

In this world a teenage girl with no formal GCSEs, living alone, surviving on the bare minimum £8,000 a year benefits allowance and suffering a depressive disorder can get her A-levels, go to university, learn a trade, study whatever she pleases, start a business, get married, have children and live in relative safety and comfort.

Are there injustices? Of course there are. Let’s just take work environments. In some fields of employment women don’t feel safe due to a high volume of young, differently cultured men who may be a bit too abrasive or forward for their liking. In some fields of employment men don’t feel safe due to a high volume of spoiled, progressive, man-blaming women who may attempt to harm their career. In some fields of employment White people don’t feel safe due to a high volume of Non-White people who bring with them a different culture or set of mannerisms to what the White person is used to. Same goes for every other race on this planet. In some fields of employment a feminist, a nationalist, a transgender person, a traditionalist, a vegan or a Christian may not feel welcome due to the lack of others who resemble them.

And, when you are the minority in your surroundings, or not represented by management, you will likely suffer some discrimination. It’s just human nature to be rude to those unlike ourselves, preferential towards those we identify with and inconsiderate towards those whom we don’t understand.

And of course there are people out there who want to insult, rob, rape, beat or kill you. These people exist in every society, in every type of person, in every culture and environment. You can’t decide who they are going to be, you can’t guarantee that you will be safe and you can’t eliminate a certain type of person and live in comfort. The world has never been and will never be that fair. The best we can do is be wary and stay safe.

But we live in an incredible world. We live in a world that is a thousand times better than anyone before or outside it could even imagine. We live so deeply immersed in it that oftentimes we don’t see it and become dissatisfied. We live so long being told we are beautiful that when we feel insecure for whatever reason, we believe an injustice has been committed. We live so long being allowed to have a certain amount of personal space that when it is restricted we feel stifled. We live so long being listened to that when our voice is not the most prominent we feel ignored and oppressed. We are so used to having so much that we can’t see that everything we need is within our reach.

This world has room for improvement. But it always has, and it always will. There is a time and a place to discuss building a better world, to demand preferential or equal treatment or to begin carving ourselves a nice corner in the world we have. But if we never look at everything we already have, if we only stare longingly at what we lack, we will never actually be happy.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… build a tradition.

Traditions are an important part of culture, from our nation’s customs to our family’s quirks. But just because something isn’t a family tradition this festive season doesn’t mean it can’t be. There are many reasons to build a healthy tradition among your loved ones:

  1. It promotes bonding.
  2. It increases productivity.
  3. It replaces our rapidly dwindling external cultures.
  4. It takes some focus off consumerism.
  5. It refocuses us on past customs and religious observations.
  6. It gives us a sense of identity.
  7. It gives us a sense of shared identity.
  8. It promotes thankfulness.

There are definitely more, but don’t those alone highlight why we should be cultivating traditions? So if you want to build a tradition, here are some helpful tips.

1: Decide who to share it with.

You can’t just point out a few people and force a new custom on them. Choose people you will spend a lot of the holiday season, every holiday season with. These are probably the people who matter most, so whether it’s just two or three of you or whether your whole volunteering group is involved, make them a priority.

2: Choose something valuable.

If you want to do something every year, don’t go for something that is unproductive or an absolute waste. Try and find something positive. Look out for:

  • Making things.
  • Sharing experiences.
  • Working together.
  • Creating and imagining things.
  • Good feelings.
  • Faith and oneness.

These are good, strong elements of a valuable tradition.

3: Don’t force it.

You can’t just announce you will be doing something every year. Just try and make it happen and adapt the tradition to suit the people, not the other way around.

4: Encourage positively.

Reward participation and help, make the process as much fun as the result and don’t stress or put on the pressure.

5: Do the legwork.

If you’re the one who wants to “make this a thing”, then expect to do almost all the work yourself. Maybe in future years everyone will be looking forward to it and will help out some more, but for now it’s you.

6: Watch it develop.

Once the wheels are turning, your loved ones should be expressing some more interest in the new tradition and suggesting ways of changing, improving or building it. Just watch the bud burst into bloom.

What traditions are there in your family? However big or small, silly or solemn, I’d love to hear them. 🙂

Here’s to a good and wholesome celebration.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Cat People and Dog People.

Cat Person: I just don’t know how you do it, putting up with all that bouncing and walking and noise. Dogs are just so… boistrous.

Dog Person: Now, I don’t think you’re being fair. Dogs can be energetic, but many dogs are also calm, peaceful animals.

CP: But they all still need walks and exercise. Dogs were literally bred to be dragged around doing work. If they aren’t they get badly behaved.

DP: Not all dogs are quite that energetic.

CP: But you DO need to walk your dog, right?

DP: Yes, but the rest of the time she’s very quiet and well behaved. A walk is hardly boistrous.

CP: Look, a dog will never compare to a cat in terms of peacefulness. My cat gets let out in the morning, goes and hunts around a little, then comes home and sleeps.

DP: That’s not less energetic, that’s just an animal that sleeps eighteen hours a day and doesn’t want you in its life. I prefer a creature that wants to have fun with me.

CP: But dogs are just so NEEDY. They just want more, more, more. And they take it personally when you don’t have the time or energy for them.

DP: But that’s what makes them great. They’re there, they’re your buddies, they’re willing to go the extra mile to save you and protect you.

CP: Because it’s in their genes! Dogs care about you because they had to to survive. They’re just mindlessly doing what they were programmed to, or they would have died out. Cats on the other hand are independent, when they save someone it’s actually virtuous.

DP: Virtuous? Most cats are entirely useless. Dogs have been by our sides for thousands of years and have been herders, hunters, searchers, they’re even finding more uses for them, like cancer dogs. What have cats done? Catch rodents.

CP: But humans were just fine without dogs. Sure, they helped, but we would have managed. Without cats all our harvests would have gone to rodents and we would have been overridden by disease.

DP: Without cats we would have trained dogs to catch rats… oh look we did!

CP: But you have to feed and train and exercise that dog. What a waste of time and money! You just got a cat, back in the day, and let it out to hunt for you.

DP: Yeah, and then it would run away because it doesn’t need you and you’d have to get another cat.

CP: Would still cost less than a dog. And what’s wrong with an animal having some independence? You just want something to control and manipulate. I pity whoever you date.

DP: You just want to excuse your lack of empathy and responsibility. I pity your children.

 

Isn’t it daft how we keep trying to persuade each other that cats make a better dog and dogs make a better cat?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What Crafting Does To And For You.

Arts and crafts are something most of us appreciate. We love seeing the results of great talent and skill. We also love engaging in crafting activities when we can. But crafting is a little like reading. Despite knowing that most of the happiest, wisest, healthiest people in the world craft, most people seem to avoid it.

It’s quite peculiar how we do this, because, however you look at it, crafting is innately human. From our earliest days, even if toys and paints aren’t available, we take mud and sand and sticks and stones and mash things together to make murals, sculptures and decorations. We are drawn to paint and stickers and glue. We make shiny, bright, ornamented versions of everyday items. In short, we are born with a desire to create. Which makes a lot of sense, really. A human is born a naked ape-grub without any sharp teeth or fangs, without the ability to even stand. We grow into gangly, nude primates that are slow, clumsy and weak compared to most of our would-be predators and prey. So crafting is one of our ways of surviving. By tinkering about with everything we are able to make houses, fire, weapons, traps, cooking utensils and preservation techniques. Crafting made the arrow, the tree-house, the fire pit and fermentation. It’s an instinctive drive.

And another unique trait of humans is that we use this tinkering to develop culture. At some point a good, strong arrowhead that felled five bison stops just being a good arrowhead and starts being a lucky arrowhead. At some point Mum’s copper pot stops being a cooking utensil and becomes an heirloom. The more we tinker, the more we develop, the more meaning we attach to things, until we start making this for meaning’s own sake. We find blue peaceful, so we seek out blue pigments. We like the little figures on Uncle’s bow, so we make our own figurines. We go from utilitarian, to utilitarian and meaningful, to purely meaningful.

And gradually these meanings form a culture. If women of a certain tribe wear neck-braces in solidarity with women who need them, women in the next tribe will be confused, because they will either not need braces or view them as simple medical treatment. If hunters of a certain tribe paint themselves blue to connect with the Gods, hunters from another tribe may see the blue as aggression or even aspiration to godhood. By creating a sort of secret language of meaning, we exclude others from out culture and make it ours. We gain solidarity.

Which is where we start losing our desire to craft in the modern world. We live in a world where we no longer need to craft or be inventive. Not only are we avid, hungry consumers, we seem to be trying to become culturally stagnant, merely observing past culture and global cultures and not engaging in any cultural or tribal behaviours of our own.

But crafting is still good for us. The pull is still there, even when you sit down a sixty year old office worker with finger paints. How many people do you know who would never doodle, paint, sculpt, write, sing, dance, build, shape, collage, etc if they could? If you sat a group of adults down in an arts and crafts room and told them to entertain themselves, how many would find nothing to do? We still love it and want to do it. It’s only natural to us.

Crafting is still one of the best ways of dealing with mental and personality disorders, as well as with non-clinical stress, depression, anxiety, fear or boredom. It evens us out and leaves us feeling soothed and satisfied by the end. And to boot, it shows its own fruits. When you work crunching numbers, or teaching a lesson a week, or cleaning machinery, it’s hard to see your own work in the finished product. But when you take your vision and slowly shape it into something, you are present in the end result. And that reward is one of the richest you can experience.

Humans really are meant to craft and create. And we should put more effort into doing some crafting daily.

What do you enjoy crafting? Do you craft as much as you would like? Are there any crafts you would like to learn?

Check out my Pinterest board of things to craft or that I have crafted.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Why Do We Connect To “Things”?

In a world of abundance, it’s only rational to consider that people will want to have things. Humans are meant to accumulate, exchange and use resources, be they consumables, usables, culture or consumable replacements such as money.

But we also see an interesting phenomenon in the Western world that is not quite as strongly reflected anywhere else. We see an extreme attachment to physical objects that don’t have a specific use or job. And, because we have so many things, this attachment can happen in five, ten, a hundred objects. On a simple level, almost everyone has an item they feel attached to, such as a simple wedding band or a tatty childhood toy. In extreme cases we see problem hoarders: people who accumulate things everyone else would consider rubbish to an extent where their homes are full and their lives are impossible, but who can’t bear the thought of parting with it. Often we see a deeper attachment to these things than the person feels for unknown humans. Sometimes the person will feel better about driving away a loved one than parting with their things.

But why does this happen?

As mentioned above, there are only four purposes for something in a human’s life:

1: Consumables. Things you need to use to survive that cannot be reused or recycled. Water, food are the basics. Firewood, underwear and deodorant are less obvious consumables.

2: Usables. Similar to consumables except they are not quite as degraded by use and are often not absolute essentials. Houses, machines or phones come to mind.

3: Consumable replacements. Bartering chips we use to obtain consumables and usables. The main one today is money in physical and digital form.

4: Culture. Something that serves no utilitarian purpose, but provides entertainment, satisfaction and a bonding opportunity with the individual’s social group.

When we consider what these things often are, we realize they are not consumables, replacements or usables. They may have started out that way, such as a favourite jumper, a childhood toy or a phone, but they have been elevated beyond that. The jumper isn’t worn for warmth, the toy isn’t played with and the phone isn’t used only practically. They aren’t anything practical, they’re “just things”. These things must, therefore, be cultural.

However they aren’t cultural in the traditional sense. Art is culture, ceremony is culture, fashion is culture. These are things shared by groups of people. They are understood and appreciated. They have a shared meaning, shared rules, shared boundaries.

The things people become attached to don’t have that shared meaning. Nobody will know or understand why your toy cat is so special to you until you explain its history, its meaning to you. Even then they may not understand. Your phone does not bond you to people. At best it creates a weak association-by-trend between you and users of similar phones or brands. At worst it serves as a divider between you and the people you most often interact with.

So they aren’t culture. They are culture surrogates.

In societies where they still have faith, tradition, arts and a life rich with meaning, they rarely need such items. Parents will hand their last remaining childhood toy to their own children, knowing it might be torn apart. Children will more likely treasure an item with a shared meaning than a personal one. After all, this is how culture is born.

But our society rejects culture. We actively fight it. We seek to understand a little bit of every culture around us and embrace none of them.

So we have branded “things” as surrogates for religion. They help us bond, find new people, find some sort of a meaning to life.

We have childhood “things” as surrogates for memory and family. They help us remember pleasant times, feel loved, feel worthy.

We have nonsensical “things” as surrogates for art. They make us feel individual, unique, eclectic and special.

We keep all these things around us. When we are lacking associates we find a new brand to associate ourselves with. When we are lacking memory or love we find a new trinket to hold some memories in. When we are lacking individuality, artistic appreciation or visual stimulus and pleasure we find a new random item to put in our room to collect dust.

And I guess having a few of these things is just natural. We’re human, after all, so a family heirloom or a painting that actually resonates with us will elicit strong emotions of joy, belonging, satisfaction and meaning. But do we really need quite so many of them?

What about you? What “things” do you have in your home? Are you a clutter bug or a minimalist? Do you find yourself attaching meaning to objects easily? Or do you have one or two things you need in your life and everything else is disposable? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!