News Briefs 12-04-2010

What’s next? Food riots in 2012, and The Great Famine in 2015?

Big hat tip to Mind Hacks.

Quote of the Day:

From the Bible to Knight Rider to The Matrix, the story’s the same: in crappy times, a single person will emerge to make all the difference and turn everything around. Although it makes for great viewing, it makes for a bad society. Ultimately, tales about messiahs are bedtime stories steeped in power. They’re debilitating soporifics, inducements to be passive as we wait for social change because, some day, our prince will come.

Why wait, though? If the world is to transform, faith in politicians offering hope and change is a recipe for disappointment. Ask almost anyone who voted for Obama. Change happens through millions of acts of rebellion and mutual aid, not through faith in one great leader. What’s depressing about this whole Maitreya thing is that it is a sign that we’ve given up on ourselves, that we need to depend on The One rather than finding the means to fix our own problems directly.

The thing is that there are millions of world teachers already. I’ve been lucky enough to report what they’re teaching: from former petrol-pump attendants in South Africa to masked women in Mexico, leaders are subjecting themselves to democratic control, and messing with the boundaries of private property so that everyone gets to share the world’s resources. Their vision of the commons looks a lot like what Maitreya might bring to Earth (and for which Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel prize in economics last year). And the good news is that it has been here all along.

Raj Patel, here.

  1. Humans are hard-wired to equate looks with character
    Too true.

    Several years ago I underwent brain surgery that successfully removed a large tumor. As a result of the surgery, my left eye is blind and slightly disfigured.

    After recovering from surgery, I noticed (and so does anyone accompanying me) that in shopping centers and other public places, I am routinely and openly intensely scrutinized by security, who will sometimes actually follow me around from store to store. Pre-surgery, this never happened.

    I always giggle to myself thinking while they’re focusing so much manpower on me, someone far more beautiful is walking away with thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise or openly carrying out some other nefarious activity.

    I always chalk it up to most people being far too stupid and lazy to question perceptions which are based solely on superficial characteristics.

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