Posts categorized "Political"

Ethereum, the Blockchain Revolution, and the Spiritual Shift toward a Decentralized Economy

My thoughts about the decentralized economy that has emerged beyond the reach of centralized authority. Ethereum is shaping a new, fully-decentralized world of freedom and abundance--but only if we are also capable of a spiritual transformation away from ego, materialism, and mind-identification. Decentralization will bring freedom and abundance as we begin to exist in the present moment, identified with Love. 

Posted by Mark Manney.

Ethereum: this changes everything

Maybe you haven't noticed, but the world has changed. While most people were busy complaining about Trump, Brexit, the economy, the injustice of it all--complaining that the world is unfair and convinced that it was all going to hell--along comes an entirely different future. News flash: the future is now and it is called Ethereum.

It's like 1994 all over again (you know, that whole Internet thing). Only this time, we're going to get it right. Ethereum is Web 3.0, but much more than that. It is a new economic system in which there is no centralized power. Read that again. What is the opposite of centralized power? Power to the people. In other words: freedom and abundance for people like you and me.

Ethereum is as unstoppable as Bitcoin; however, is designed to power not only cryptocurrency but also any type of application in a decentralized way over what is called a Blockchain (essentially a database that is distributed over thousands of peer-to-peer computers). Data that is stored on a Blockchain is encrypted, so that only a user with the secure key can access it. You can (and should) research this elsewhere, but let's get to the point: it is now possible to build secure applications for the people on an Internet that is beyond the reach of corporations, intelligence agencies or anyone else. Just when they thought they had won, we are once again free.

What might those new applications do? Well, today it is already possible to trade a currency called Ether with a software wallet (much like Bitcoin is stored and traded). Beyond this, Ethereum has what are called Smart Contracts, which enable two parties to come to an agreement on anything (payment terms, shipment and delivery, profit distribution, whatever). Smart Contracts have already been used to establish virtual organizations called DAOs (Distributed Autonomous Organizations) made up of anonymous individuals. Get it? Companies that exist beyond the real world legal system, using a cryptocurrency. Pinch me.

This is very early-stage technology (though it has already been around for a few years). Ethereum is very much real and it isn't going away. This is the new frontier, the wild west. This is an opportunity that comes along maybe twice in a lifetime. If you get behind it, what follows are decades of prosperity. I'm all in. 

 

Posted by Mark Manney.

Crowdfunding campaign to create Loving Social Media

Our most fundamental human need is to form human connections that are deep, meaningful, and loving. Yet today, there is no easy, systematic way to meet new people who are exactly right for you.

Institutions keep us separate from each other to make us feel dependent and powerless. The system is designed to keep us in fake relationships with institutions, while deep down we crave real relationships with other human beings.

The purpose of my life is to help you form meaningful, valuable connections with people who compliment and support your needs, wants, and desires. I once believed that the barrier between people was mostly technical, so I designed a new type of social media platform that connects people according to matching wants. Users enter structured sentences describing what they want, and they are matched with other users whose wants are compatible. 

What I learned is that the problem isn't only technical. The larger problem is that people are afraid to connect. People are afraid to trust, afraid to accept others, afraid to meet new people, and most of all people are afraid to Love. Society is in a state of constant panic -- paralyzed by fear and detached from what is real. The good news is that this hopeless state is not inevitable. It isn't even real. Everything can change in an instant. The power to escape this darkness and to connect with Love and truth is inside each one of us.

The disastrous state of the world is entirely related to our unshakable faith in the ego. All pain, illness, and suffering is of the ego. While most people believe that the ego has some value, the ego is a lie that offers nothing. The opposite of ego is Love. I have found that it is quite easy to escape the ego and to live entirely within Love's energy.

We must stop believing we can create change by battling corrupt, self-serving institutions designed to exploit us. All the power we need to change everything immediately is outside of that realm--it is alive within us. The first step is personal transformation, which happens as easily as reading a book: Belove: How to End Pain by Escaping Your Ego

Transformation fails when you try it alone, in isolation. But when we create a global community of Loving people who have escaped the ego, that is when true change is possible. That is the purpose of this crowdfunding campaign--to build a community based on the principles of Love.

Taking part in this movement is effortless, fun, and beautiful. People who have escaped the ego do not attack. They are no longer jealous, judgmental, greedy, or angry. People who are aligned with Love are giving, accepting, forgiving, and open to connecting with others in freedom and oneness. Facebook is all about pride and image, which is of the ego. Our social media site is based on Love. Those are the people you want to meet.

The site is already up and running and this community has already begun. If you are open to connecting with a community of Loving people, you can join www.belovetribe.com (though I would highly recommend you read the book first).  The site is still basic from a technical & design standpoint, but it is a place where Love can flow. The current version does not make use of the algorithm that matches users based on Wants, but it is a start.

The purpose of this fundraiser is to turn this philosophy into a living, global community. This has nothing to do with me, personally. I have no desire to build a following. This is about a higher, spiritual, universal truth and it is about a recognition that it is entirely possible to change the world immediately by connecting with each other in Love.

Any funds raised will be used to hire developers, to promote the movement, and to grow Belovetribe.com. While your financial contribution is extremely valuable and helpful, the most significant contribution you can make is to effortlessly offer your truest, most Loving self. I offer to you my book, in Love, and I am inviting you into a beautiful, Loving future. 

Posted by Mark Manney.

Stop fighting. Start giving.

I know that there is injustice in this world. It is everywhere. You are not going to win if you fight it. Stop fighting and start giving. Stop demanding what is yours and start giving what is uniquely yours to give. As radical as this sounds, it is just as true.

Do you know how they swindle you? How they exploit you? How they screw you? How they do anything and everything to rip out your soul just to squeeze out a bit more profit? That only happens because you are playing their game. You are in their freaking casino. You are going to their banks, shopping in their malls, driving their cars, watching their news and entertainment, listening to their music, and reading their books and magazines. You are doing it all to fit into their system, which they designed for the precise purpose of exploiting you.

How they must get together to laugh their evil laughs through their dirty, cigar-filled lungs and how they must speak their ugly voices from cognac-drenched tongues. It is obvious to them what a sucker you are. You are losing their game; yet, you continue to return to their table believing it is real. Let them win at the grand, ugly, senseless ego game. You can turn your back and walk forward in Love. If you are Love, they will never be able to exploit you again. Yes, you are being screwed, but the way out of this mess is to give.

When I say give, I don’t mean only that you should give what little money you have. Forget money. Think bigger. Your gift to the world is far more valuable. The force of giving is found in the act of creating. The ultimate form of giving is creativity. Everything that is has been created. The universe has been created by some supreme force. The Earth and all its nature has been created as a speck of that universe. Beyond that, we humans have also played our role as creators.

When we create in Love, we invent beautiful technologies capable of transporting us around the world and making us more comfortable. We make art that pleases the senses and expands our capacity to Love. Through creativity, we gradually shape a world in which it is possible for me to spend hours at a time, in total comfort in Eastern Europe, writing this on an awe-inspiring device that didn’t exist even decades ago.

The people who matter are the ones who create. Creating is the ultimate form of giving. To create is to become God-like and Love is the fuel of creation. When you create from ego, you build something meaningless for some short-term profit. You may come up with a scheme to fool people and to rip them off. You may come up with something so practical that it is unambitious and boring and doesn’t sell very well. Screw that, do something big.

Ego-based creation is petty, silly, meaningless, and as quickly forgotten as the profits are spent. But when you create in Love, you give birth to something that advances consciousness, creates new Loving connections, and makes people happier and more fulfilled. By giving to your fellow human beings in this way, you will profit in the ways of Love.

 

* This is an excerpt from the book Belove: How to End Pain by Escaping Your Ego

Posted by Mark Manney.

If there was a Revolution, who would lead it?

Who is going to lead the Revolution? Yes, I mean a real Revolution. Do we want a better society with a new economic system? Do we want a system that lets us govern our lives by something other than today's corporate, governmental, and organizational systems of corrupt domination and power? If so, who would we look to as leaders of that kind of Revolution?

Would it be the anti-capitalist, hippie, intellectual protesters? I doubt it. They understand the world's problems well indeed, but their clever words and provocation are not the solution. For the most part, they get stuck on the problems and don't seem to do anything to solve them.

Who else is going to do it? Politicians? Come on. They serve the status quo to an extent that no real change is possible. Forget about it.

We need a group of creative people whose function is not to serve the established institutions of power; yet who possess the skills and the capabilities to get something done. If anybody is going to change the world, it will be this guy: the self-motivated, problem-solving, action-driven entrepreneur with a brilliant idea.   

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With all of the technology available to us, we are a new breed of entrepreneur who is capable of achieving anything. We are the change agents in the modern world and it is up to us to create something better. We are inventors who can build an alternate system to make everyone better off, happier, and more free.

We need to go further than merely on carving out some small niche market where we, individually, can thrive. Let's think bigger because the world needs us. Today's economic system is slowly destroying the world, just as it fails to serve human nature. Human potential remains dramatically under-developed. Our interests, skills, passions, and abilities are ignored just as our free time and life experiences are unnecessarily limited...and for what purpose? Anything is better than what we are doing today. A new future must be invented, built, and intelligently implemented. Let's do it for the greater good and on our own benevolent terms.

The concept of "invention" is not something that should be limited to conventional products and services. Let's broaden the concept in order to realize that everything about our daily lives is an invention. Our present form of money was once an invention. Corporate law was also invented by way of a legal system led by individuals who represent a specific set of values. Likewise, our generally-accepted doctrine of blind economic growth and profit at all costs...the whole concept was once a new idea, an invention. Even beyond the economic realm, we allow outdated ideas about relationships to dictate the way we love and connect with others. There is no reason to believe that there is anything inevitable about the status quo. Radical change and Revolution is the inevitability.

We entrepreneurs (who also happen to be radical thinkers, content producers, entertainers, inventors, and leaders)....we are the answer. Launching another niche, luxury business to fulfill a profitable customer need is great. But it would be much more profitable and worthwhile if we were to, instead, launch another economic system. We can create a new way to structure economic and social relationships between people. We can create and use our own currency. Nothing stops us from offering a tangible, user-friendly way for people to gradually, peacefully shift to another paradigm by simply ignoring today's systems of power, corruption, and control.

We are far from perfect, but it is time for us to realize that we are better than today's world leaders. We are the people who have what it takes to launch a Revolution. We need to think bigger and commit to creating a better world...and we need to do it in a peaceful way.

The Revolution will be an excellent customer experience! 

Posted by Mark Manney.

Our 3-tier class system

Whenever we talk of concepts like social classes, we do so only in terms of wealth or income.  The upper class is rich, the middle class lives comfortably but struggles, and the poor live in hopeless squalor.  But is there any meaning or purpose to such analysis? 

The problem with this type of analysis is that we don't look at ourselves.  We aren't honest about where we fit and how our own thoughts and behaviors put us where we are.  Instead, we conceive of society's failures and accomplishments as something external to ourselves.  This kind of analysis leaves out the part that might actually be useful.  In fact, any intellectual exercise which ignores the possibility of self-analysis and self-understanding is a waste of time and energy.  That's because the only thing we have any control over in this world is ourselves -- what we do, how we think, and how we react to what happens to us

My search for truth has me observing and trying to make sense out of society.  I have lived in, participated in, and functioned in many different cultures in many different countries.  I have noticed that we seem to be living in a 3-tier class system.

The first is the Ruling Class.  The Ruling Class is proportionately small in terms of numbers, but they control the vast majority of wealth and resources.  The Ruling Class exists above and outside of the rules that govern the rest of us.  In fact, they create the rules that govern the rest of us (yet they do not apply these rules to themselves).  They write the laws, they print the money that the rest of us work so hard for, they almost fully control what the rest of us foolishly call "democracy", and they control the resources. 

Most of the Ruling Class are born into the Ruling Class, while some of them enter through the secret societies of Harvard, Yale, or other elite universities.  If you happen to be a member of the Ruling Class, you know you are a member of the Ruling Class.  If you are past University age and still don't know for sure, then you never will become a member.  If you are a member, you have been taught that your loyalty is only to other members of the Ruling Class.  You take care of each other and your primary purpose is to maintain your position.  Your power is limitless.  You feel entitled to extract wealth from the other classes and from nature itself.  In fact, you feel morally justified in anything you do because, after all, you are the elite.  You deserve it because you are part of the club.  You may be, in fact, stealing from the Productive Class and ruining the lives of the Dependent Class, but you reason that you are above them and superior to them, so it doesn't really matter.  Everything you are and everything you do is justified because this is your natural place in society.  You are the elite.  Occasionally you do something charitable or just, and just as the Ruling Class has done through the ages...you expect your peasants to be grateful.

Your fear is that things get out of control.  You have to keep order, you have to keep people satisfied to at least a minimum level so they don't rise up against you.  You have to keep them believing in the system you oversee, or at least make sure they are too afraid to do anything about it, or else it could all fall apart and you will have failed.

Next, there is the Productive Class.  The Productive Class is larger than the Ruling Class, but still a proportionately small group of people who invent, build, create, and maintain much of what we all enjoy.  This is an educated, skilled, strategic group of people who create much of the value that the other two classes benefit from.  If you are a member of the Productive Class, you understand that you get paid based on the amount of value you create for society.  Your pay is proportionate to the extent that you create something useful for lots of people, something enjoyable, something practical, or something desirable.  You also earn a living by serving the Ruling Class...by helping them extract wealth and by helping them keep society in order. 

You serve the interests of the Ruling Class even though you do not fully share in the benefits.  Your income and wealth is only a small portion of that which you create (in other words, you are exploited).  But you are alright with being exploited because, you reason, that's just how the world works.  You don't want to rock the boat because you are trying to enjoy your ride on the boat.  You don't feel entitled to more; rather, you feel proud of what you have accomplished through hard work and merit.  You don't dwell on what should be, you are grateful for what is.  If there is more to be had, you'll get it through your own abilities.

If you are a member of this class, your life will be rewarding and you will find a great deal of satisfaction.  These are the highly-successful entrepreneurs, the celebrities who boast a life-long career of meaningful and high-quality work.  These are the people who bosses love because they always earn their paycheck.  You are self-sufficient, capable, and will always be able to satisfy your material needs because you are always going to be useful to others.  You will also find a great deal of satisfaction in your mastery of specific skills and in your accomplishments.  You will, however, be frustrated with other people around you who seem not to do anything productive, who always seem to want something from you, and who may even seem lazy.

Finally, there is the Dependent Class.  This class is largest in number but poorest in terms of resources and wealth.  If you are a member of the Dependent Class, you feel that you should be rich, you should be famous, and you should be given everything you want.  Your sense of self-worth is strong but has little connection to reality.  Much of the Dependent Class is employed, but mostly in jobs which they find frustating and unacceptable.  They get paid a small amount for the relatively little value created through work that they don't much care about.  The Dependent Class feels that their employer owes them more money and benefits, that the government also owes them, and they adore the Ruling Class because the Ruling Class seems to have everything they should have. 

The Dependent Class wants to be rich and famous without any patience or effort.  They want it all, now!  They want to be discovered and in extremely rare cases they are, but their celebrity or success is short-lived.  Not only is their 15 minutes of fame fleeting, it is meaningless and has little long-lasting value to others.  They want to be actors, models, rock stars, and reality TV stars for no particular purpose.  If it doesn't happen, it is by no fault of their own.  Possessing few relevant skills or acceptional traits, putting forth only the minimum amount of work, few members of the Dependent Class realizes his or her dreams. 

These are the young women who want to marry rich, the drifters, the unproductive artists, the bored employees, the partying rich kids, the university students who don't study, the unemployed, the guy at the bar every night, or the guy who moves on the latest get-rich-quick scheme as easily as changing shoes.  In Europe, these are the guys scheming to get EU funds (rather than just starting a business that creates value).  The Dependent Class complains that life isn't fair, just as they frustrate the Productive Class with their impracticality and ineffectiveness.  But the Dependent Class is, in fact, useful to the other classes because they make eager consumers, they are the die-hard fans, and the true believers.  The Dependent Class is the consumer of culture and, aside from that, they do all the low-value jobs that nobody else wants to do.  In exchange, they are fed religion, sports, and reality TV in order to make their present-day reality seem bearable.

The whole system works because the lower two classes hate each other.  The Dependent Class sneers at the Productive Class because they are suckers, sell-outs, and they just don't get it.  The Productive Class hates the Dependent Class and tells them to "get a job".  Meanwhile, the Ruling Class could care less...as long as both classes continue to obey and worship them.  Everything is fine as long as they are able to keep everything in order and continue to rule, to exploit, and to control the rest of us.  The Ruling Class is fine if the lower two classes are pointing fingers at each other, because at least they aren't pointing fingers at them.

This heirarchy exists in every country of the world (though the relative size of each class varies slightly country-by-country).  The interesting question is: where do you mostly fit?  Are you part of the Productive Class or the Dependent Class?  Which class do you consciously want to be a part of?  How might you change your thoughts and behaviors to make that a reality?

I'm not suggesting that a person's class accurately describes a person's worth.  Any discussion of class is only a discussion of economics.  Every person on this planet is a unique individual, possessing his or her unique value and identity entirely outside of social status or economics.  The degree that we actualize our authentic selves is the degree to which we transcend class and circumstance.  So this analysis of our 3-teir class system is only an analysis of exactly that...it has only to do with our economic standing and how our thoughts, beliefs, and actions affect it.  Your actual worth, as a human being, has little to do with your class.  Sometimes truth can be harsh, other times it can be depressing.  In this case it is both.  But is it still not worth considering?

Posted by Mark Manney.

Change starts by accepting what is

Change starts by accepting what is.  While this might sound like a paradox, let’s think about what happens when we fail to accept reality.

When we fail to accept reality, we complain.  Our thoughts and energies are focused on themes like, “My job should pay more than it does, my loved ones should be different from how they are, and the world should recognize my talents.” 

When we fail to accept reality, we also paint ourselves the victim.  If only I was given a chance.  If only I had more money.  If only I hadn’t had a child at such a young age.  If only everyone shared my beliefs and values.  If only my husband was more ambitious.  If only she wasn’t so mean to me.  If only our government wasn’t so corrupt.  If only people weren’t so ignorant.

When we fail to accept reality, we argue endlessly and pointlessly about how things should be.  I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but during the years I lived in Seattle I fell deeply into this trap.  For various reasons, the US in general and cities like Seattle in particular are hyper-political environments.  This was especially true during the Bush Presidency.  In Seattle, I became an expert on arguing how things should be.  The government should stop lying.  Cheney should be prosecuted for war crimes.  People should demand a military exit from Iraq and Afghanistan.  People should be outraged about wars based on lies.  The government should serve the people.  Democrats should grow a spine. 

While it would be nice if all of these things happened, these ideas are ridiculous because none of the statements reflect reality.  The political reality (then and to this day) is that the US Government is controlled by a small number of ruling elites who are mostly invisible to the public.  Their goal is resource extraction, increased power concentration, and ever-more effective exploitation of the powerless.  Their sole purpose is to advance their own self-interests and to maintain their position at the very top of society (in short, to rule).  Their Corporate-controlled system functions exactly as these individuals intend.  The system is doing exactly what it was designed to do!  Therefore, to argue that the government should be democratic (i.e., a true reflection of the people’s will), that it should reflect economic and ecological justice, that it should be a reflection of pure, honorable values…this argument is absurd because it is a naïve denial of what is.  These arguments actually make the system seem credible…as though any of this were possible at all within this system!  When we fail to acknowledge the truth about what is, we get stuck in arguments and actions that cannot succeed because success cannot come from a misunderstanding of reality.

When we fail to accept reality, we look only to the external and we blame only the external.  None of our thoughts and criticisms are turned inward.  None of our revelations have to do with ourselves.  The irony is that the only thing we actually can control is ourselves.

A while back, I left that hyper-political environment and came to a place where I could barely speak the language.  My thoughts became more pure, simpler, and more focused.  I was far less influenced by the media.  I had surrounded myself with people who did not share my views or my way of thinking.  After some time I came across a simple idea: what is just is.

What is the first thing you think of when you hear this?  Think about it.  At first the thought seemed absurd to me.  A logical mind says, “Of course what is just is.  What’s the point in making this statement?”  Furthermore, the notion that “what is just is” seemed so passive, so lazy, so defeatist.  But like any good idea, it stuck in my mind and slowly changed my perception of reality.

There are two things that can happen when you accept that what is just is.  First, you can find happiness and contentment.  You release yourself from the imagined burden that it is on your shoulders to change the world.  You realize that you have no actual power to change the world.  You can stop waiting for your life to start “someday when”.  You can stop wishing for things that will not happen.  You have no power to change friends or loved-ones.  You have no power to change the way people think or behave.  The only power you do have is to change yourself.  With this new understanding, those old complaints, those old “what ifs”, that old way of thinking and feeling no longer cripples you.  You find peace and you focus on what matters: that which you actually have power over.

The other thing that can happen when you accept that “what is just is” is, ironically, change.  Success can flow from an effective response to reality.  Let’s consider changing people.  You cannot truly change people or change their behavior by simply demanding it, wishing it, or complaining about it.  Only when you understand and accept human nature, when you understand and accept the truth about who someone is, when you understand and accept what makes them how they are, when you understand and accept how men are and how women are, when you understand and accept what they want from life, when you know and accept what others want from a relationship – only then can you hope to influence any change.  But you cannot start with the goal of change.  The goal is only to learn about reality, to embrace the truth, and to do so with no other end in mind.  Only then can you begin to share your opinions, your stories, your views, and your values.  Only when you perceive and truly listen to others will there be any hope of them doing the same for you.  But this cannot be done for the purpose of changing the other.  If the person changes or the relationship changes, it will happen naturally.  It is not your goal or your burden to change someone else…only to know and accept.

How you would feel if someone accepted you unconditionally for exactly who you are?  What would that person mean in your life?  How far are you from doing just that for the people who mean so much to you?  How can you claim to love someone if you cannot accept all of her unconditionally?  What exactly do you love then?

To accept that “what is just is” also requires a great deal of work, study, and exploration.  You have to read popular and unpopular ideas.  You have to consider the conspiracies.  You have to observe people and society without bias.  You have to become educated and then question that education.  You have to listen to varied opinions.  You have to be open to experience.  You cannot get to the place of accepting reality until you first know what it is.  This is a lifetime journey and the goal is awareness.  In order to accept "what is", you have to first understand it.

Now let’s think about social or political change.  What would happen if a population would stop arguing foolishly about what “should be” or how everybody else “should think”?  What would happen if we stopped arguing about how outraged everybody “should be”, how everyone “should” go to Church (or not), “should” recycle, “should” turn off the TV?  What would happen is that we would clearly see, and plainly speak about, the truth.  A population that clearly sees and speaks about the truth could not be governed by today’s propagandistic, dishonest, theatrical tactics.  We, as individuals, would make different decisions about how to live, how to love, how to spend our money, and what to do for a living.  We, as a collective, would look at how to organize, how to work together, and how to exist.  We would find those “cracks” in the system and we would become very creative about how to exploit new and unimagined possibilities.  We would invent change.  Where we used to complain, we will do.  Through effective communication about reality, and through effective action that is a response to reality, we will change ourselves and change the world. 

Of course this will not happen.  I accept the fact that people like to lie to themselves.  People choose the lie for a short moment of false comfort while they derail the possibility of a lifetime of contentment, happiness, and positive change that can only come from awareness.   So this idea will not be accepted on a massive scale.  But this could happen in your life.

Posted by Mark Manney.

Content and how it Frames Reality (podcast episode)

The content that we consume affects how we see the world around us and frames our perceptions.  When we allow this to happen, we limit authenticity and we fail to realize our individuality.  Click the gray box below to listen to the podcast.

Abscondo Podcast - 42 - Content and how it Frames Reality

Posted by Mark Manney.

The Crisis of Meaning

I post because I want to be heard.  To be heard is reassurance that I exist.  When I know that I am heard, I know that I am supposed to be content.  So why am I still not content?  What is still missing?

Go to Facebook or Twitter during any second of any day and watch your friends do the same.  I don't need to explain this to you because I know you do it too.  You feel it too.  To post is to scratch an itch -- the relief is temporary and unfulfilling.  To write and record a song is the same thing, only 1,000 times more intense.  To write a book is also the same thing, only 10,000 times more intense than that simple post on Facebook.  Bloggers know it, musicians know it, writers know it...but we do it anyway.  We do it for the simple reason that we wonder whether our lives really have any meaning if we do not succeed at projecting that meaning to the outside world.  We want to know that our lives have extrinsic value.

Our current obsession with becoming famous is also fueled by this same emotion.  If a million people could hear my voice or somehow understand me, that would be better than one person hearing my voice and understanding me, right?  Or what if I could create a product that would be loved by 10's of millions?  Would I finally feel content that I have found meaning?

Ironically, we pretend we don't care about such impractical, unrealistic ideas like "the meaning of life" -- but I think we are fooling ourselves.  I think everyone is concerned with their meaning of life.  Single people often believe that their meaning of life will be revealed when they meet that special someone.  But, even after we have met that special someone, even after we build wonderful lives together, we continue trying to define, validate, somehow possess something as elusive as meaning.

Let's go even further.  We also identify with movements,  institutions, brands, and organizations because we seek meaning.  We are Christian, Hindu, Liberal, Conservative, Green, Harley-Davidson owners, H&M shoppers, Football fans, film buffs, Indie music fans, etc., etc. because we believe that being part of these "clubs" will give our lives meaning in the outside world.  We profess the values of specific movements or industries because we want to believe that, in doing so, we will belong....and in that belonging we will come to know a meaning that lasts longer than scratching an itch.

But does anyone really find their meaning in any of these ways?  So many celebrities have everything any of us could dream of...and yet we watch them go through embarrassing melt-downs before our eyes on reality TV.  They act completely ridiculous.  But, in truth, all of us do.  Could it be any different?

Something is fundamentally broken.  Our lives are being run by corporations.  The only meaning of a corporation is to make a higher profit this quarter than last.  That's it.  So the highest value, at the top of our society, is money-worship.  Not very meaningful.  Everything a corporation does...all the brands, all the sports teams, the media, all the films, all the content, everything...it is only there to serve that one purpose.  Our governments are also at the mercy of the financial industry, the oil industry, the defense industry, etc., etc.  So we cannot believe in business and we cannot believe in the State.  Where is the external meaning in this system?

Are we supposed to be naive enough to look for meaning in religion?  You want me to live my life in a silly and unsuccessful attempt to conform to ridiculous stories written by corrupt men thousands of years ago?  Sorry, you've lost me there.  I was talking about the meaning of my life, on Earth, in reality.

I ask again, where is the meaning?  I know this is depressing, but I also know you feel it too. 

Posted by Mark Manney.

#occupylondon protest pics and first-hand account

Sofia and I made it down to the protest in London's Financial District on Saturday and took a few pics. 

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A reporter from The Independent approached us for an interview.  His lead-in was, "Looking at the way you two are dressed today, I can't help but notice that it looks like you have some money.  What are you doing here?"  I told him that 99% is a big number that includes us and him too. 

He was right, Sofia and I weren't exactly dressed for protest, as I was in London on business.  But, as he continued, his biases became clear.  He had assumed that we were maybe confused passers-by and he was probably looking for a counter-protest story.  So we proceeded to educate him about the cause, about how the world's top elite use finance to enslave us as individuals and plunder nations.  He diligently took notes in shorthand. 

The interview couldn't have gone better.  We effectively made every key point we intended to, and the interview lasted more than 20 minutes.  I think he, as an individual reporter, really wanted to print the story.  He took down my information and we parted wondering whether any of these ideas would show up in Sunday's Independent.  As far as I know, the story did not appear with any of our quotes (I'm not surprised) but I can tell you that...judging by the look on his face in hearing the anti-establishment views of this software entrepreneur...it was a bit of a mind-fuck / re-education for this unsuspecting reporter. 

Here's a picture that Sofia took after the interview.

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The turnout wasn't bad, but it certainly could have been better.  The vibe was good.  It was as much an exchange of ideas or press conference than a protest.  We were surrounded by reporters open to the message and helicopters endlessly swarming above.  The police presence was large but I didn't notice any real problems during the time we were there.  But the real turn-out in London this Saturday was the shopper turn-out on Oxford Street (see pic below).

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Fun fun fun, right?

Posted by Mark Manney.