This blog is about both scientific, societal/political, and yoga-related issues - individually and considered as different aspects of the same problem/solution. A longer description is found in the first blog entry, and all old posts are found in a structured way here. The blog is an extension of my main home pages yoga-link.se and isbgroup.eu. Twitter: @gunnarcedersund
politicsPosted by yoga-link.se Nov 10, 2013 12:52 As some of you might remember, I posted an
open letter to our Swedish Minister of Foregin Affairs Carl Bildt som 2
months ago or so. I then questioned him on why Sweden as the only country
in the EU chose to stand aside from a joint statement saying that
international law will be upheld, using the ICC, after the Syria crisis
has been resolved. I promised to publish the answer, if I got one, and
since I did - here it is.
(you almost always get an answer to
these kind of queries, at least if they are well-formulated, and I think
that it is a good way to show the politicians what's on my mind, and to
increase the public-politician-dialogue)
Tack för ditt mail. Jag arbetar på Utrikesdepartementets ministerkansli
och utrikesminister Carl Bildt har bett mig att svara dig.
Naturligtvis är regeringen av åsikten att krigsförbrytare ska ställas
till svars och vi arbetar på många fronter för att stärka respekten och
skyddet för mänskliga rättigheter. Sverige har sedan Romstadgans
antagande varit en stark anhängare av dess principer och av ICC.
Domstolen har en viktig roll i att säkerställa att förbrytare av de
allvarligaste internationella brotten mot mänskliga rättigheter och
internationell humanitär rätt lagförs.
Carl Bildt förklarade i januari i år ställningstagandet att inte skriva
på brevet med att det var fel prioritering i det läget, då utsikterna
att få igenom initiativet var ytterst begränsat och att det snarare
kunde riskera den politiska processens framgångsutsikter i och med att
Bashar al-Assad skulle bli låst utan förhandlingsutrymme. Ansvar ska
naturligtvis utkrävas för brott som begåtts, och ICC kommer med all
säkerhet att ha en roll i detta när det blir aktuellt. Vårt första fokus
är dock att få stopp på konflikten och de allvarliga övergreppen av
mänskliga rättigheter och humanitär rätt.
Iceland has made one of the most impressive recoveries since the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008. In fact, it might be one of the few countries yet that has managed to turn an extremely bad economic situation into something positive, and they did that within a period of less than 3 years. It is therefore highly interesting to see how they managed that feat. Especially since they did this in the almost exact opposite way compared to the path that all other crises countries have entered on: extreme austerity, and an increased hostility between the ruling parties and the oppressed and suffering masses. Iceland did the exact opposite: they: i) Decided not to lose their democracy, but to listen to the people, follow referendums, and give the money to the ordinary people ii) Let the private banks fail, just as ordinary mal-handled companies would do iii) To ignore the orders from IMF and the other powerful nations
A very important person in making these things happen, to take this course instead of the traditional course that Spain, Italy, Greece, etc are on, was their president: Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. In the above video, you hear a 30 minute long interview with him, where he explains the main events, including some exciting and highly enlightening stories about key decision points, personal encounters with formal allies who turned into open and united hostilities, and how another ally emerged, who showed an impressive maturity and depth of understanding of these kind of processes: China.
Highly interesting interview - well worth listening to!
politicsPosted by yoga-link.se Sep 04, 2013 20:27 One of the most well-known songs from Kristina från Duvemåla, Benny Andersson's wonderful musical about the Swedish emmigration to the US during the 1800s.
The relationship between Sweden and the US has a complicated history, ranging back all the way to the massive emmigrations during the 1800s, to the sharp criticism during the Palme administration, which was done in parallel to secret alliances and collaborations not known by the public. Since then, the relationships have become more openly friendly, and today a new level of interaction has been reached: Barack Obama, a sitting US president, is visiting Sweden in a bilateral visit for the very first time.
This has been followed by lots of debate about what we are going to use the visit for. And, many people have believed that no tough questions will be asked, and that the important issues - drone strikes, NSA surveillance, Syria, etc - will be avoided, to keep a warm and cosey athmosphere. For these reasons, there have been a lot of pressure from various places, and e.g. Anna Troberg, the leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, wrote an excellent debate article on the topic, saying that we need to pressure them regarding surveillance. I also recently wrote an open letter to Carl Bildt, pressuring him to step up and act on the global arena - as Sweden has had the good reputation of doing in the past - and not just brag about all the different meetings he is attending.
And...lo and behold, I just discovered that The Guardian is running this story, where it says the following:
"Answering a question at a joint press conference with Swedish prime
minister Frederik Reinfeldt on Wednesday, Obama said there were
"legitimate questions" about the NSA. He said existing laws may not be
sufficient to deal with advances in technology that have allowed the NSA
to gather much more data than before. There have been calls for new legislation from members of Congress to
limit the powers of the NSA, but this is the first time that Obama has
hinted he might back such a move."
In other words, Reinfeldt did end up asking questions about this topic, and this has led Obama to - for the first time - acknowledge that things may need to be done in this direction. A wonderful example of my favourite principle: "When the people lead, the leaders can follow!" And I am a little bit more proud to be a Swede again :)
politicsPosted by yoga-link.se Sep 03, 2013 21:47 I have just sent the following open letter to our minister of foreign affairs, Carl Bildt. I answer him why we haven't signed a letter that all other EU-countries have signed, where we urge the UN security council to ensure that ICC is used to follow up all war crimes in the Syria conflict. If he, or somebody from his staff, answers, I will of course post the answer here.
jag läste med stor förvåning dagens debattartikel skrivet av en av oppositionsledarna
Där står det att: "ICC ska lagföra de krigsbrott som nu begås och har begåtts i Syrien...Samtliga andra EU-länder har tidigare krävt detta i ett brev till FN:s säkerhetsråd, men den svenska regeringen avstod då från att underteckna vilket väckte stor internationell förvåning."
Sverige har under 1900-talet erhållit ett solitt rykte att stå upp för mänskliga rättigheter, för att stå demokratins sida i konflikter, och för att stärka FNs förmåga att kanalisera våra globala ambitioner att mogna som globalt samhälle.
Detta rykte är viktigt att vårda och ytterligare förstärka.
Jag förväntar mig därför att det finns en god anledning till att vi inte har skrivit under detta viktiga brev.
Då jag inte hittar några indikationer om vad dessa anledningar skulle vara på er hemsida, eller på andra ställen, så skriver jag därför nu och frågar. Jag har postat detta öppna brev på min blog och på min facebook-sida, där jag också kommer att posta ett eventuellt svar. Det kommer därför att nå ut till en relativt stor mängd (500+) människor på en gång, och därmed ge er chansen att visa att det finns en god anledning att Sverige har tagit detta ställningstagande. Just nu verkar det nämligen mest extremt osvenskt, och som något som undergräver vårt under lång tid uppbyggda goda rykte.
Rent allmänt: Vi borde initiera sådana här brev, och få andra länder att skriva under - inte själva vägra, när alla andra är med!
Mer specifikt, igen taget från artikeln: "ICC är kanske den viktigaste utvecklingen av den internationella rättsordningen som tillkommit under de 25 år som gått sedan gasattacken mot Halabja. Det vore ett historiskt misstag att inte göra klart att domstolen kommer att användas nu."
Vänliga hälsningar, Gunnar Cedersund, engagerad medborgare
Yesterday it was 50 years since Martin Luther King gave his extremely famous, and extremely good, speech: "I have a dream" (first video below). I have listened to that speech many many times, and I cherish it very highly. I have also listened to some speeches made by Obama many times, e.g. the one he gave when he was elected, on the election night (second video below). However, one of the biggest mysteries in my life is what happened when Candidate Obama turned into President Obama, and he suddenly abandoned all his very clearly stated principles. When he run for president in 2008, he said all the right things, and it was very hard not to believe that he was genuine, and that getting him into the White House was almost a dream too good to be true. When looking back, it seems like it wasn't getting him into the White House that was too difficult: it was getting him in, unchanged, that was the difficult part. I won't get into all the details of these changes now, but - as is indicated in the third video below - he has turned 180 degrees in terms of not striking down on whistleblowers, on not presenting a false choice between our principles and our security, and on several other related issues.
For these reasons, a new cartoon has become viral on the internet: where MLK's "I have a dream" has been replaced by "I have a drone". I personally think that the drone warfare is one of the most inhumane things going on our planet right now. You shouldn't take war lightly, and if you implement it as a video game, where the attacker sits in a comfortable chair in the US for a few hours before picking up his kids from kindergarten, and where the victims are entire villages, with a very high percentage of innocents, then you are doing something that is almost a complete fulfilment of MLK's prophetic words:
"When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men"
As a sort of side-note to this little blog post, I want to end with a teaser to a book chapter that I wrote some 2 years ago (link to be added soon!). It was written back when I still enjoyed Obama's speeches immensly, and it is meant as an initial chapter in a book that will span this century, i.e. what I think will happen, and how we will evolve on a whole range of issues: morally, politically, economically, technologically, relationship-wise, etc etc. That book in itself, is the second in a trilogy. The first will be about yoga, and the preservation of advanced yoga-insights, in a secret society that lived already some 2-3000 years ago, and which has preserved these insights up until our age. The last book in the trilogy will be about an advanced society, where they have fully evolved beyond the kind of issues that I complained about above. And - as a final little teaser - I can say that what will happen in this second book after Obama has been elected is that the masses realize that it is not sufficient to elect a leader that says all the right things. You need to create new ways of bringing people and information together into meaningful debates, which then transform itself into joint decisions. When the people lead, the leaders will follow. Only then can the leaders follow.
Martin Luther Kings original I have a dream speech.
The speech that Obama gave on the night he was elected, and which I mention in the chapter I describe above. I still think that it is one of the best speeches I have ever heard, and am still deeply touched by watching the video, seeing all the faces, and getting to feeling of that night back into my body.
The speech where the big changes in Obama's policies are highlighted.
The above graph shows how a system state (here promotor activity), depicted on the y-axis, is affected by some input (activator concentration), depicted on the x-axis. One of the things that first got me interested in systems biology was an example from a book by Kauffman with a similar kind of a graph, where the different speeds at which the system went from low to high values on the y-axis, depended on the size of the system. He showed in a very simple and generic example that as the size of the system grows, as the complexity of the system grows, the change from low to high values happens in a more and more switch-like manner. In other words, you cannot see what is about to happen on the global scale until very shortly after it has made the majority of the switch; but on the local scale the signs can be seen. This is a good reminder that our global systems - which certainly are highly complex - very well may change from one operating mode to another one in quite a short time, and that things might not be as bleak as they seem - the might be close to meaningful fundamental change. Picture from here.
In these times of increasing revelations of surveillance, government overreach, injust or sometimes even absent court rulings, etc etc, it is easy to become frustrated, and perhaps even hopeless, and judgemental - just reporting and focusing on all the things that are wrong with the world. I think that that is understandable, but to some extent unnecessary and counter-productive. It is, in my view, much better to join in with thought-streams that point to the direction of things building up. To things that inspire you. To things that give you hope. Give them your energy, give them your awareness, spread awareness of those things - and the system and pattern that they represent will gradually take over more and more, as the old systems are falling apart.
A few examples:
MEDIA It is, for many people including me, becoming more and more clear how manipulated and controlled our mainstream media channels are. This is easy to get frustrated about, both about the revelations, and about the fact that nothing seems to change in these organisations. However, there are also many good signs (as I wrote about e.g. in the following fb-status), and quite generally there are now more ways to get information than ever before: blogs, facebook, twitter, forums, etc. My advise is therefore to focus on the good signs, to use these new channels, help finance these new structures, and so let them grow and become more and more able to fully take over, when the old media structures crumbles.
An important transition point has been reached, when the new system is the norm, and the old system the oddity. In this picture, non-ecological bananas are referred to as "treated with toxins". You can still buy them, but with this - more correct! - marketing, this product is bound to leave the market pretty soon. The picture is from a real shop in the north of Sweden, and taken from here.
ECOLOGICAL FOOD Our mainstream food is currently being poisoned and maltreated in a wide variety of ways: it is being transported wide distances and eaten long after its harvesting; it is being treated with pesticides and other toxins (which enters into the food), in order to maximize the mass-production; it is being processed and mixed together into all sorts of absurd combinations of substances where many of the ingredients have nothing to do with food; etc etc. However, also here there are coming more and more ecological and nearby-produced products into our shops, and into our shopping-possibilities. I myself, have to 95% made the switch to a completely ecological diet: nowadays, if an ecological version of a product does not exist, I almost always buy some other product altogether. And if an ecological alternative exists, I virtually always buy it. You could therefore say that I am already almost exclusively living in a world that is completely ecological. Therefore, that there still remains parts of the system that still haven't crumbled together does not disturb me that much. And the more people that make the same shift, the more improved these ecological food production chains become. And since the food is better (more tasty, whole-some, etc), and as developing people tend to care more and more about their health, these new food production structures are bound to eventually out-compete the old ones.
ECONOMICS Economics is certainly one of the systems that angers many people nowadays. But also here, I think it is becoming increasingly clear that our current system is heading towards some kind of major breakdown. If you know where to look, there are also many signs of alternative systems that are being introduced into the mix, and that gradually can take over when this happens, so that it won't be a catastrophic event, but a gradual transition felt as a relief, shifting us into a more well-functioning structure. I am actually arranging a workshop on this topic, and is therefore bound to write much more about this in the nearby future. For now, I just want to say that our aim is to have some influential and insightful speakers here, and to make the workshop lie in the intersection between politics, science, media, and the general public. And some of the themes will be peer-to-peer economy, bitcoin, a reformed copyright/patent-system, etc. All of these are systems which are being introduced already, and that are more and more outcompeting the existing system, on area after area.
GOVERNMENT There are many many other similarly important topics which basically follows the same pattern. I will, however, stop here, and only give you a TED-talk (in case you have missed it) which presents how local government can be transformed using citizen participation organized via the internet.
In Sweden we sometimes buy fish fillet in a fried square form, called "fiskpinnar". Growing up in the city as I have, you tend to forget how far away such finished food is from "real" food, and almost unconsciously believe that such little squares of fishes are swiming around in the sea. A few weeks ago, I was on the west coast of Sweden, and then I both experienced a life much closer to nature, and met some new and old friends, and swam to Norway - from the west! :) Picture by me from a friend's shower curtain.
"Why don't you come to Krokstrand?", a friend of mine asked. "I am going!" It was then still a week before the Krokstrand festival - a tango festival - was about to start, and it was therefore long before I would decide on such a matter. I usually decide upon such things literary a few minutes before they are about to start (see also this blog). Nevertheless, time went by, and I did eventually decide to go. And now - when I am back again - I just want to share shortly with you, three small observations I made during this trip. Observations that end up in the call for us to restructure our society in a way that is more based on voluntary contributions, based on what we want to do.
The first thing that I realized was how nice it is to eat food where you see the whole chain of events leading up to you eating it. I lived in a very simple little annex to a cottage, out on the country side. The water supply consisted of a little well on the grounds, with a lake nearby. This lack-of-running water neither bothered nor excited me very much when I came, apart from that I quite generally like simplicity in life. But what really got me going, was a reply from the owner of the house, when I said that I was hungry: "Why don't you dig up some potatoes over there, and then pick some sallad and spices over there, and cook something?". Suddenly I looked at the little garden he had, and realized that it is just like a big refridgerator: i.e. like a store of food underground - that I was looking at Nature's own refridgerator. I totally enjoyed the food I had digged up, simple but supertasty, and this made me even further strengthen my belief that I want to live in such a way myself one day - my future yoga retreat centre is certainly going to grow its own food as far as possible.
Picture taken while walking to the tango place. Our Swedish fairy tales (and my favourite child hood comic: Bobo) talk about how the elfs dance in the morning mist. This inspired me to want to dance just as inspired and magical as the elfs can.
The second little observation was a purely geographical one, done late one night. It turns out that Krokstrand lies just on the border between Norway and Sweden, and that the border consists of a fjord, i.e. a river-like lake with completely still and beautiful water. In other words, on the one side of this fjord lies Norway and on the other lies Sweden. And, as with so many Norwegian fjords, they turn quite a lot, and it so happened that at precisely this spot, this turning had implied that the Swedish side lied to the west of the Norwegian side. Therefore, when I joined a group of friends to go swiming, after an unusually nice dance evening dancing tango late into the night and into the morning, some of us decided to swim all the way to the other side. So: now I have managed the quite spectacular feat of swiming to Norway - from the west!
The final observation was done on the way home from Krokstrand, and concerns the bus-system. It started out negatively: there are no buses going from Krokstrand in the weekends, but only in the week days. This is a bit weird, and I think that they at least should have a taxi-bus system, so that you can order a bus, if there is a need for one - otherwise this forces people who live there to have a car. In any case, I managed to get a lift with some friends who were going in the right direction, and they dropped me off in a seemingly very desolate place, Hallinden, which consisted of a few houses, and a bus stop.
However, after having spent a little time there, I noticed that the bus stop had some quite unusual decorations and inventories. More specifically, the bus stop was part of a pilot project called "Rolig hållplats", and it meant that three people had gotten the task to create a more entertaining and informative bus stop - to stimulate a more environmental friendly way of touristing.
When I started reading, I quickly became quite enthusiastic, not only because it contained
information about nearby sites to visit by bus, from where I was
standing, but also because it was so nicely and personally formed. It was as much about the games etc that they had installed, as about the process they had gone through in inventing all this stuff, and it was this personal touch - learning about the people behind it - that made me especially happy. Games are fun, but learning about nice people doing nice things warms my heart, and instills in me a sense of hope about our common future.
I strongly believe
that our world needs so much more of things like this: where people spend
time, creativity, and positive energy to create a more warm and friendly
place for us to live in. I also don't think that it needs to be that expensive, so that it becomes a balancing between letting buses go to Krokstrand in the weekends and making the bus stops more friendly. I instead believe that it is possible to re-structure our society in such a way that much more of our time is voluntary, and where we ourselves can take a personal responsibility to improving our world in new previously unthought-of ways - ways that could never be ordered from above, but comes from individuals seeing a need, a potential, and then deciding to step up and do something about it because they want to. I therefore end with a TED-talk that deals with part of this restructuring. Main message: we are the society, and we now have a technology to start changing its governing quite fundamentally - even regarding seemingly mundane things like the taking care of bus stops.
Luther King has provided one of the most well-known examples of how
non-violent resistance in the face of big police brutality really can
work to bring about change. We need to be inspired by such examples, and
believe that they can happen again, that healing always is possible.
Even in the most infected places. Picture from wikipedia
is probably the biggest and most influential of all online
organizations right now. They have already helped to bring significant
change to quite a few issues, and they are quite generally bringing hope
to the world, and the restoration of sanity in our global politics. Now
they are at last taking on some concrete on-the-ground action regarding
the Isreal-Palestine conflict, which is the perhaps most infected and
long-lasting wound in the world right now; at least regarding its public
attention. This is of course highly interesting, and if you want to
read more - and contribute to this global effort - use the following link, which also contains the following extracts.
"For years, the media has focused on Palestinian militants, and to this
day, extremists on both sides are pushing peace further out of reach.
But what’s lost in all that vitriol are the loving families like Fadel’s
that just want a normal life. Now, those families are stepping forward,
leading peaceful marches, organizing sit-ins, and working with Israeli
activists to seek justice and freedom."
"This occupation has
gone on for too long and for too long the resolution of this conflict
has been controlled by extremists on both sides."
hope for ending this injustice and finally reaching peace is this
peaceful resistance movement. Here are a few of the ways we can support
* Support life-saving legal aid to help nonviolent
leaders defend themselves from trumped up charges and kangaroo military
courts; * Bring in civil disobedience experts from other movements
to share strategies and tactics with communities across the West Bank;
* Provide media equipment and trainings to leaders so they can both
document abuses and get the word out to the world about this hopeful,
inspiring movement; * Hire top-notch campaigners on the ground to
provide ongoing support to this movement, scale actions across the West
Bank, and engage our global community to take this movement from local
to global; * Livestream their nonviolent actions on our site and organise a global day of action across the world.
In our history we have seen how nonviolent movements have freed peoples
across the world -- Gandhi’s movement in India, Dr. King's movement in
the US, and Mandela’s movement in South Africa. We know that it can
work, and indeed in this case it’s our only hope. Let’s give this
inspiring movement the global solidarity it needs to succeed"
I am a yoga-teacher in the tantric tradition, but also a scientist, and an engaged citizen. Politically, I am engaged in e.g. democracy, internet freedom, human rights, alternative economic theories, and environmental issues. Scientifically, I am working with systems biology, and the study of complex systems on all levels (isbgroup.eu). Yoga-wise, I am teaching and interested in classical yoga, where you take a holistic view, and merge not only physical exercises with breathing exercises and meditation, but also those things with karma yoga (harmonious working), dancing, music, sex, and all the rest of it. See http://yoga-link.se Twitter: @gunnarcedersund