Education

Chinese Embassy Supports Jaffna University

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The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka has donated LKR 43 lakhs to support the welfare of the students of the University of Jaffna. This financial aid was granted to the University under the Chinese Ambassador’s Scholarship Scheme. Prof. S. Srisatkunarajah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna, received the grant from His Excellency Qi Zhenhong, the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, at the Chinese Embassy in Colombo at 4 p.m. on Sunday, the 2nd of October 2022, a press statement issued by Jaffna University has said.

“Ms Li Qingrui, the First Secretary to the Chinese Ambassador, Dr S. Rajumesh, Director of Student Welfare Services and Dr. M. Thanihaichelvan, Focal point for the Chinese Ambassador’s scholarship were present at this event,” it added.

Since 2016, the financial aid granted under the Chinese Ambassador’s Scholarship Scheme has been distributed among the different universities in the country. This year (2022), the entire financial is shared between the University of Jaffna and the Eastern University, Sri Lanka. 

The Student Welfare Branch of the University of Jaffna has informed that this financial aid will be utilized for many welfare schemes including the provision of a monthly bursary for the students of the University. 

Can The Metaverse Lead To Smart Flight Decks And Smart Airports?

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4 mins read

The metaverse is best understood as the shift of computing and interaction from a device in your pocket into a virtual simulation.” ~ Matthew Ball

The word “metaverse” has been with us for decades, first introduced as a platform of dystopia in a 1992 science fiction novel titled “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. Yet, it eludes definition or full comprehension in many of us.  Some have gone to the extent of calling the Metaverse a “3D Internet”. At most, the Metaverse can be described as “ a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users”.  When this definition is expanded it becomes “ a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality and augmented reality”. 

This new platform has already shown compelling results  in the world of surgery where successful surgery was performed in 2021 in the Johns Hopkins Hospital by neurosurgeons in augmented reality during live surgery

Virtual reality and augmented reality are terms that we are already familiar with. The difference between augmented reality and virtual reality (AR and VR)  is that, while AR takes digital information and transforms it to a 3D physical reality, obviating the burden of the cognitive load and is used in various commercial enterprises, VR takes physical reality into an environment that is computer generated and driven, thus making it an ideal application for entertainment purposes. The difference between the two is intrinsic in that AR gives us physical reality while VR gives us virtual reality. This is what makes AR valuable for the aviation industry. Porter and Heppelman go on to say: “At Boeing, AR training has had a dramatic impact on the productivity and quality of complex aircraft manufacturing procedures. In one Boeing study, AR was used to guide trainees through the 50 steps required to assemble an aircraft wing section involving 30 parts. With the help of AR, trainees completed the work in 35% less time than trainees using traditional 2-D drawings and documentation. And the number of trainees with little or no experience who could perform the operation correctly the first time increased by 90%”.

The combination of AR and VR would be significant to both the air transport and airport industries.  We could envision a combination of AR and VR being used to simulate weather patterns; cloud formation; and turbulence in a flight path which could alert the flight crew prior to taking off. The authors of System for synthetic vision and augmented reality in future flight decks (June 2000 Proceedings of SPIE – The International Society for Optical Engineering) say: “Rockwell Science Center is investigating novel human-computer interface techniques for enhancing the situational awareness in future flight decks. One aspect is to provide intuitive displays which provide vital information and spatial awareness by augmenting the real world with an overlay of relevant information registered to the real world. Such Augmented Reality (AR) techniques can be employed during bad weather scenarios to permit flying in Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in conditions which would normally require Instrumental Flight Rules (IFR). These systems could easily be implemented on heads-up displays (HUD)”. The new vision of the flight deck includes AR in weather information, surrounding air traffic and information on terrain.

In the airport industry, this has already become a reality.  In the airport world, this platform is called “The Digital Twin”.  As an example, Hong Kong International Airport can be cited which has its own Digital Twin, where airport staff use a live 3D simulation to plan and determine where passengers, gates and planes should be located and directed. The Digital Twin is also being used at Schiphol in Amsterdam, San Francisco International and Vancouver Airport.

The Digital Twin is a virtual replica of every aspect of airport operations and performance “to maximise efficiency and increase capacity in a more timely and cost-effective way”, as an article in the magazine Passenger Terminal World reports.  Its most effective purpose is to alert airports to anticipated problems on a 24-hour basis and flag operations staff at the airport so that they can obviate the threat and operational difficulty that could ensue. It also points to problem areas that could inconvenience and delay passenger flows, thus avoiding congestion.

Another useful purpose of the Digital Twin is that it can alleviate passenger stress.  An example cited is the airport and flight experience it offers before the actual experience, thus enabling passengers who are anxious to be more prepared when undergoing the actual experience.  One category that benefits from this platform is the autistic community.

The Digital Twin can also offer insights into the future.  For example, if an airport has an aspirational goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2030, it can model the aircraft and on-ground vehicle movements as well as other activities on the airfield.  These models can be applied to machine learning that can reflect the most efficient way an airport can be run.   Even in the planning process of an airport, the Digital Twin could offer the best iteration as Schiphol has done in the application of building information management software to generate a 3D digital version of physical and functional characteristics of an airport infrastructure.

Our physical world is three-dimensional. Even though we are far advanced in the digital age, most of our work is now being done on two-dimensional vision and application. Whether we look at a computer screen or smartphone we do not have the true picture until we translate the two-dimensional information we receive into three-dimensional practicality which is the real world. This process of translation imposes a load on our mental capacity requiring time to decipher practical reality. This demand on our brain is called “cognitive load”. AR greatly diminishes the demand on our cognitive load by converting the data obtained by two-dimensional methods images and animations that instantly gives us a picture of the real world. Michael Porter and James Heppelmann in their article Why Every Organization Needs an Augmented Reality Strategy published in the Harvard Business Review say: “[T]oday, most AR applications are delivered through mobile devices, but increasingly delivery will shift to hands-free wearables such as head-mounted displays or smart glasses”.

Without Culture, Freedom Is Impossible

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6 mins read

In 2002, Cuba’s President Fidel Castro Ruz visited the country’s National Ballet School to inaugurate the 18th Havana International Ballet Festival. Founded in 1948 by the prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso (1920–2019), the school struggled financially until the Cuban Revolution decided that ballet – like other art forms – must be available to everyone and so must be socially financed. At the school in 2002, Castro remembered that the first festival, held in 1960, ‘asserted Cuba’s cultural vocation, identity, and nationality, even under the most adverse circumstances, when major dangers and threats loomed over the country’.

Ballet, like so many cultural forms, had been stolen from popular participation and enjoyment. The Cuban Revolution wanted to return this artistic practice to the people as part of its determination to advance human dignity. To build a revolution in a country assaulted by colonial barbarism, the new revolutionary process had to both establish the country’s sovereignty and build the dignity of each of its people. This dual task is the work of national liberation. ‘Without culture’, Castro said, ‘freedom is not possible’. 

In many languages, the word ‘culture’ has at least two meanings. In bourgeois society, culture has come to mean both refinement and the high arts. A property of the dominant classes, this culture is inherited through the transmission of manners and higher education. The second meaning of culture is the way of life, including beliefs and practices, of a people who are part of a community (from a tribe to a nation). The Cuban Revolution’s democratisation of ballet and classical music, for instance, was part of its attempt to socialise all forms of human life, from the economic to the cultural. Furthermore, the revolutionary processes attempted to protect the cultural heritage of the Cuban people from the pernicious influence of the culture of colonialism. To be precise, to ‘protect’ did not mean to reject the entirety of the coloniser’s culture, since that would enforce a parochial life on a people who must have access to all forms of culture. Cuba’s Revolution adopted baseball, for instance, despite its roots in the United States, the very country that has sought to suffocate Cuba for six decades.

A socialist approach to culture, therefore, requires four aspects: the democratisation of forms of high culture, the protection of the cultural heritage of formerly colonised peoples, the advancement of the basic elements of cultural literacy, and the domestication of cultural forms that come from the colonising power. 

In July 2022, I delivered a lecture at Cuba’s Casa de las Américas, a major institution in Havana’s cultural life and a heartbeat of cultural developments from Chile to Mexico, that centred on ten theses on Marxism and decolonisation. A few days later, Casa’s director, Abel Prieto, also a former minister of culture, convened a seminar there to discuss some of these themes, principally how Cuban society had to both defend itself from the onrush of imperialist cultural forms and from the pernicious inheritance of racism and patriarchy. This discussion provoked a series of reflections on the process of the National Programme Against Racism and Racial Discrimination announced by President Miguel Díaz-Canel in November 2019 and on the process that led to the 2022 Family Code referendum (which will come to a popular vote on 25 September) – two dynamics that have the capacity to transform Cuban society in an anti-colonial direction.

Dossier no. 56 (September 2022) from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and Casa de las Américas, Ten Theses on Marxism and Decolonisation, contains an expanded version of that lecture with a foreword by Abel Prieto. To give you a taste of it, here is thesis nine on the Battle of Emotions: 

Thesis Nine: The Battle of Emotions. Fidel Castro provoked a debate in the 1990s around the concept of the Battle of Ideas, the class struggle in thought against the banalities of neoliberal conceptions of human life. A key part of Fidel’s speeches from this period was not just what he said but how he said it, each word suffused with the great compassion of a man committed to the liberation of humanity from the tentacles of property, privilege, and power. In fact, the Battle of Ideas was not merely about the ideas themselves, but also about a ‘battle of emotions’, an attempt to shift the palate of emotions from a fixation on greed to considerations of empathy and hope.

One of the true challenges of our time is the bourgeoisie’s use of the culture industries and the institutions of education and faith to divert attention away from any substantial discussion about real problems – and about finding common solutions to social dilemmas – and towards an obsession with fantasy problems. In 1935, the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch called this the ‘swindle of fulfilment’, the seeding of a range of fantasies to mask their impossible realisation. The benefit of social production, Bloch wrote, ‘is reaped by the big capitalist upper stratum, which employs gothic dreams against proletarian realities’. The entertainment industry erodes proletarian culture with the acid of aspirations that cannot be fulfilled under the capitalist system. But these aspirations are enough to weaken any working-class project.

A degraded society under capitalism produces a social life that is suffused with atomisation and alienation, desolation and fear, anger and hate, resentment and failure. These are ugly emotions that are shaped and promoted by the culture industries (‘you can have it too!’), educational establishments (‘greed is the prime mover’), and neo-fascists (‘hate immigrants, sexual minorities, and anyone else who denies you your dreams’). The grip of these emotions on society is almost absolute, and the rise of neo-fascists is premised upon this fact. Meaning feels emptied, perhaps the result of a society of spectacles that has now run its course.

From a Marxist perspective, culture is not seen as an isolated and timeless aspect of human reality, nor are emotions seen as a world of their own or as being outside of the developments of history. Since human experiences are defined by the conditions of material life, ideas of fate will linger on as long as poverty is a feature of human life. If poverty is transcended, then fatalism will have a less secure ideological foundation, but it does not automatically get displaced. Cultures are contradictory, bringing together a range of elements in uneven ways out of the social fabric of an unequal society that oscillates between reproducing class hierarchy and resisting elements of social hierarchy. Dominant ideologies suffuse culture through the tentacles of ideological apparatuses like a tidal wave, overwhelming the actual experiences of the working class and the peasantry. It is, after all, through class struggle and through the new social formations created by socialist projects that new cultures will be created – not merely by wishful thinking.

It is important to recall that, in the early years of each of the revolutionary processes – from Russia in 1917 to Cuba in 1959 – cultural efflorescence was saturated with the emotions of joy and possibility, of intense creativity and experimentation. It is this sensibility that offers a window into something other than the ghoulish emotions of greed and hatred.

In the early years after 1959, Cuba convulsed with such surges of creativity and experimentation. Nicolás Guillén (1902–1969), a great revolutionary poet who had been imprisoned during Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship, captured the harshness of life and the great desire for the revolutionary process to emancipate the Cuban people from the wretchedness of hunger and social hierarchies. His poem ‘Tengo’ (‘I Have’) from 1964 tells us that the new culture of the revolution was elemental – the feeling that one did not have to bow one’s shoulders before a superior, to say to workers in offices that they too are comrades and not ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’, to walk as a Black man into a hotel without being told to stop at the door. His great anti-colonial poem alerts us to culture’s material foundations:

I have, let’s see,
I’ve learned to read,
to count.
I’ve learned to write,
and to think,
and to laugh.
I have, yes, I have
a place to work
and earn
what I have to eat.
I have, let’s see,
I have what I have to have.

At the close of his foreword to the dossier, Abel Prieto writes, ‘we must turn the meaning of anti-colonial into an instinct’. Reflect on that for a moment: anti-colonialism is not just the ending of formal colonial rule, but a deeper process, one that must become ingrained at the instinctual level so that we can build the capacity to solve our basic needs (such as transcending hunger and illiteracy, for instance) and build our alertness to the need for cultures that emancipate us and do not bind us to the flashy world of unaffordable commodities.

Source: The Tri Continental.Org

Mendaciousness of Monarchy

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8 mins read

No institution helps obscure the crimes of empire and buttress class rule and white supremacy as effectively as the British monarchy.

The fawning adulation of Queen Elizabeth in the United States, which fought a revolution to get rid of the monarchy, and in Great Britain, is in direct proportion to the fear gripping a discredited, incompetent and corrupt global ruling elite.

The global oligarchs are not sure the next generation of royal sock puppets – mediocrities that include a pedophile prince and his brother, a cranky and eccentric king who accepted suitcases and bags stuffed with $3.2 million in cash from the former prime minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, and who has millions stashed in offshore accounts – are up to the job. Let’s hope they are right.

“Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories,” Patrick Freyne wrote last year in The Irish Times. “More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.”

Monarchy obscures the crimes of empire and wraps them in nostalgia. It exalts white supremacy and racial hierarchy. It justifies class rule. It buttresses an economic and social system that callously discards and often consigns to death those considered the lesser breeds, most of whom are people of color. The queen’s husband Prince Phillip, who died in 2021, was notorious for making racist and sexist remarks, politely explained away in the British press as “gaffes.” He described Beijing, for example, as “ghastly” during a 1986 visit and told British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.

Tip of Iceberg of Crimes Records

The cries of the millions of victims of empire; the thousands killedtortured, raped and imprisoned during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya; the 13 Irish civilians gunned down in “Bloody Sunday;” the more than 4,100 First Nations children who died or went missing in Canada’s residential schools, government-sponsored institutions established to “assimilate” indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture, and the hundreds of thousands killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan are drowned out by cheers for royal processions and the sacral aura an obsequious press weaves around the aristocracy. The coverage of the queen’s death is so mind-numbingly vapid — the BBC sent out a news alert on Saturday when Prince Harry and Prince William, accompanied by their wives, surveyed the floral tributes to their grandmother displayed outside Windsor Castle — that the press might as well turn over the coverage to the mythmakers and publicists employed by the royal family.

The royals are oligarchs. They are guardians of their class. The world’s largest landowners include King Mohammed VI of Morocco with 176 million acres, the HolyRoman Catholic Church with 177 million acres, the heirs of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia with 531 million acres and now, King Charles III with 6.6 billion acres of land. British monarchs are worth almost $28 billion. The British public will provide a $33 million subsidy to the Royal Family over the next two years, although the average household in the U.K. saw its income fall for the longest period since records began in 1955 and 227,000 households experience homelessness in Britain. 

Royals, to the ruling class, are worth the expense. They are effective tools of subjugation. British postal and rail workers canceled planned strikes over pay and working conditions after the queen’s death. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) postponed its congress. Labour Party members poured out heartfelt tributes. Even Extinction Rebellion, which should know better, indefinitely canceled its planned “Festival of Resistance.” The BBC’s Clive Myrie dismissed Britain’s energy crisis — caused by the war in Ukraine — that has thrown millions of people into severe financial distress as “insignificant” compared with concerns over the queen’s health. The climate emergency, pandemic, the deadly folly of the U.S. and NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine, soaring inflation, the rise of neo-fascist movements and deepening social inequality will be ignored as the press spews florid encomiums to class rule. There will be 10 days of official mourning.

In 1953, Her Majesty’s Government sent three warships, along with 700 troops, to its colony British Guiana, suspended the constitution and overthrew the democratically elected government of Cheddi Jagan. Her Majesty’s Government helped to build and long supported the apartheid government in South Africa. Her Majesty’s Government savagely crushed the Mau Mau independence movement in Kenya from 1952 to 1960, herding 1.5 million Kenyans into concentration camps where many were tortured. British soldiers castrated suspected rebels and sympathizers, often with pliers, and raped girls and women. By the time India won independence in 1947 after two centuries of British colonialism, Her Majesty’s Government had looted $45 trillion from the country and violently crushed a series of uprisings, including the First War of Independence in 1857. Her Majesty’s Government carried out a dirty war to break the Greek Cypriot War of Independence from 1955 to 1959 and later in Yemen from 1962 to 1969. Torture, extrajudicial assassinations, public hangings and mass executions by the British were routine. Following a protracted lawsuit, the British government agreed to pay nearly £20 million in damages to over 5,000 victims of British abuse during war in Kenya, and in 2019 another payout was made to survivors of torture from the conflict in Cyprus. The British state attempts to obstruct lawsuits stemming from its colonial history. Its settlements are a tiny fraction of the compensation paid to British slave owners in 1835, once it — at least formally — abolished slavery. 

During her 70-year reign, the queen never offered an apology or called for reparations.

The point of social hierarchy and aristocracy is to sustain a class system that makes the rest of us feel inferior. Those at the top of the social hierarchy hand out tokens for loyal service, including the Order of the British Empire (OBE). The monarchy is the bedrock of hereditary rule and inherited wealth. This caste system filters down from the Nazi-loving House of Windsor to the organs of state security and the military. It regiments society and keeps people, especially the poor and the working class, in their “proper” place.

A Balance Sheet of 70-year Reign

The British ruling class clings to the mystique of royalty and fading cultural icons as James Bond, the Beatles and the BBC, along with television shows such as “Downton Abbey” — where in one episode the aristocrats and servants are convulsed in fevered anticipation when King George V and Queen Mary schedule a visit — to project a global presence. Winston Churchill’s bust remains on loan to the White House. These myth machines sustain Great Britain’s “special” relationship with the United States. Watch the satirical film In the Loop to get a sense of what this “special” relationship looks like on the inside. 

It was not until the 1960s that “coloured immigrants or foreigners” were permitted to work in clerical roles in the royal household, although they had been hired as domestic servants. The royal household and its heads are legally exempt from laws that prevent race and sex discrimination, what Jonathan Cook calls “an apartheid system benefitting the Royal Family alone.” Meghan Markle, who is of mixed race and who contemplated suicide during her time as a working royal, said that an unnamed royal expressed concern about the skin color of her unborn son.

I got a taste of this suffocating snobbery in 2014 when I participated in an Oxford Union debate asking whether Edward Snowden was a hero or a traitor. I went a day early to be prepped for the debate by Julian Assange, then seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy and currently in His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh. At a lugubrious black-tie dinner preceding the event, I sat next to a former MP who asked me two questions I had never been asked before in succession. “When did your family come to America?” he said, followed by “What schools did you attend?” My ancestors, on both sides of my family, arrived from England in the 1630s. My graduate degree is from Harvard. If I had failed to meet his litmus test, he would have acted as if I did not exist. 

Those who took part in the debate – my side arguing that Snowdon was a hero narrowly won – signed a leather-bound guest book. Taking the pen, I scrawled in large letters that filled an entire page: “Never Forget that your greatest political philosopher, Thomas Paine, never went to Oxford or Cambridge.”

Paine, the author of the most widely read political essays of the 18th century, Rights of ManThe Age of Reason and Common Sense, blasted the monarchy as a con. “A French bastard landing with an armed banditti and establishing himself as King of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original…The plain truth is that the antiquity of the English monarchy will not bear looking into,” he wrote of William the Conqueror. He ridiculed hereditary rule. “Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.” He went on: “One of the strangest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings is that nature disproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving  mankind an ass for a lion.” He called the monarch “the royal brute of England.”

Royalists Rallied Against Thomas Piane

When the British ruling class tried to arrest Paine, he fled to France where he was one of two foreigners elected to serve as a delegate in the National Convention set up after the French Revolution. He denounced the calls to execute Louis XVI. “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression,” Paine said. “For if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Unchecked legislatures, he warned, could be as despotic as unchecked monarchs. When he returned to America from France, he condemned slavery and the wealth and privilege accumulated by the new ruling class, including George Washington, who had become the richest man in the country. Even though Paine had done more than any single figure to rouse the country to overthrow the British monarchy, he was turned into a pariah, especially by the press, and forgotten. He had served his usefulness. Six mourners attended his funeral, two of whom were Black.

You can watch my talk with Cornel West and Richard Wolff on Thomas Paine here.

There is a pathetic yearning among many in the U.S. and Britain to be linked in some tangential way to royalty. White British friends often have stories about ancestors that tie them to some obscure aristocrat. Donald Trump, who fashioned his own heraldic coat of arms, was obsessed with obtaining a state visit with the queen. This desire to be part of the club, or validated by the club, is a potent force the ruling class has no intention of giving up, even if hapless King Charles III, who along with his family treated his first wife Diana with contempt, makes a mess of it.

Views expressed are personal

Western Propaganda Narratives Suffer Rejection

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3 mins read

You don’t have to have a PhD., to see through the dumb western propaganda narratives. They are not very believable. The only reason western media can uphold these narratives is by leaving out a majority of facts.

This is the most common way western media manipulates. They tell a shortened version of the story. Or they conveniently forget to mention facts that do not fit the narrative. If all else fails, they can always try to blame Russian or Chinese propaganda tactics. If you don’t believe me, here are 3 examples.

Western Propaganda Example #1: The West Is Only Trying to Uphold International Law.

6 months have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. We should never justify attacks on sovereign nations. That is what upholding international law means. We should condemn it every time. The west only condemns it when it suits their foreign interests. That is why Israel can freely bomb Syria. No western journalist or politician will condemn it. As long as Turkey agrees to let NATO expand, it is fine that they kill Kurdish civilians in Syria and Iraq. Last time I checked, Syria and Iraq were sovereign countries. So what gives?

Let me use an analogy from my classroom. If I declare a principal rule in my classroom, I have to be ready to enforce it. And I have to do so any time a student violates the rule. This is what having a principle means. Anything else is hypocrisy. If western journalists are not ready to speak the truth to power, they are not journalists. They are propagandists.

Western Propaganda Example #2: Ukraine Is Defending Democracy

Ukraine is defending its territorial integrity. No more, no less. And they do it well. However, Politicians and the media have been very busy. They try to frame Ukraine as a defender of democracy. This is not a role Ukraine can fill. Because they do not respect fundamental democratic traditions.

How else do you explain a law, that bans unions altogether? Is it a democratic tradition to ban parties and tv-stations? The U.S. state department’s own reports do not paint a rosy picture of human rights and democracy in Ukraine. Did you hear this mentioned in the evening news? Gee, I wonder why. Maybe it does not quite fit the narrative of Ukraine as a democratic country.

And did you notice the stunt our media pulled on Amnesty? Amnesty dared to criticize Ukraine for using civilians as military shields. Now, Amnesty is a Russian propaganda machine. This, by the way, is very consistent with how we criticized Russia for banning Amnesty not too long ago. So, is Amnesty a Russian propaganda outlet or an NGO oppressed by Russia? I guess our media pundits cannot decide. Things on the ground change too fast for western propaganda to catch up, I guess.

Western Propaganda Example #3: The West Is a Defender of Human Rights

The depth of human rights abuses by the west is unfathomable. By now, the war on terror has cost at least a million lives. The real number is probably closer to 6 million.

Western media never ask about how western military operations are aligned with international law. And by god, there are many examples. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, … You thought I would forget about the drone strikes, that killed more than 1.400 civilians, didn’t you? Well, I didn’t.

We deliver weapons and military assistance to Saudi Arabia. So they can butcher Yemeni children. No questions asked. When did you ever hear a news report questioning our involvement in the genocide?

Here is what is even more interesting. How western journalists back the torture of Julian Assange. In the best case, they stay silent and try not to mention anything about him. That is because he committed a heinous crime. He published evidence of western war crimes. For this, he faces severe punishment in solitary confinement. Which is torture.

Western journalists almost never call out human rights abuses by western countries. It is easy to criticize Russia and China. It is much harder to call out the truth on your home turf. There is no better term to use for this behaviour than propaganda.

We Need to Pay Attention to What Journalists Don’t Tell Us

It does not matter which media you consume. You should not assume that you get objective journalism. If facts do not fit the narrative, western media often leave them out. This is no different from what Russian, Chinese, or any other media around the world does. Want to avoid getting marinated in western propaganda?

You should be ready to get nosy about what journalists do not mention. It actually does not take a lot of digging to reveal, that the narratives do not hold up to the mirror of reality. But where will you find the sources that contradict these narratives? Almost never in news reports by western media. Go look elsewhere.

What you do with the information is up to you. Don’t come blaming me for your cognitive dissonance. That is your responsibility to deal with.

Views expressed are personal

Amazon Dreaming

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4 mins read

I just returned from one of the most beautiful places in the world. One of the most biodiverse. And crucially — one of the regions that is most important to the survival of life on our planet. Known as the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon, it is the magnificent beginning of a vast rainforest that stretches from the Andes mountains eastward for nearly 4,000 miles to the Atlantic Ocean – an environmentally fragile forest roughly the size of the continental US.

I was there co-leading a group of people who had answered a call to experience this magical place and the amazing Indigenous people who have inhabited it for thousands of years.

Our private bus drove us from Ecuador’s capital, Quito, along the “Avenue of the Volcanoes,” a corridor of eight snow-mantled volcanoes, including the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi (over 19,000 feet). In the distance, stood the majestic Chimporazo which at more than 20,500 feet is the closest point on the earth to the sun – the highest mountain when measured from the center of our planet (due to the Equatorial bulge). Behind us was the tallest peak on the Equator, Cayambe, at nearly 19,000 feet.

Crossing through the eastern range of the Andes, we traveled down the spectacular gorge of the Pastaza River, descending from the wintry scenes of the high plateau, through the spring weather of majestic cloud forests, and into the summer realms of the Amazon rainforest. After a gourmet dinner, we spent the night at the beautiful Il Jardin (“the Garden”) hotel in the “end-of-the road” town of Puyo. The next morning, we boarded small planes and flew into Achuar Territory.

Without going into detail about the Achuar (you can see them here), suffice it to say that theirs is a dream culture. The people base their lives on dreams and the messages they receive from nature itself. Their dreams have shown them the importance of ending global systems that threaten their forests and the entire planet.

I had first met them three decades earlier.

In 1993 I was sitting in a ceremonial lodge deep in the Amazon attending an Achuar council meeting with my friend Daniel Koupermann — an Ecuadorian naturalist guide who is highly respected by many Indigenous groups. As I listened to the discussions, I was haunted by memories of my Peace Corps days in 1968-71 when I’d lived in the territory of the Achuar’s neighbors, the Shuar. At that time, the Achuar officially were uncontacted, although one or two missionaries had wandered into their territory.

“The Achuar are killers, butchers,” I’d been warned. “Don’t even think about going anywhere near them.”

But in 1993 Daniel smiled and told me, “That was twenty years ago. Things are different now.”

Were they ever! In fact, the change seemed nothing short of miraculous.

These people who had lived as hunters and gatherers for millennia had seen how the US oil company Texaco (now owned by Chevron) had poisoned the rivers and lands in northern Ecuador and ravaged hundreds of square miles of rainforest. Along with the destruction to plants and animals, uncounted numbers of people, including many children, had died from cancer and other diseases caused by the company’s unconscionable dumping of toxic chemicals. The Achuar Territory had been untouched and they were determined to keep it that way.

In the late 1980s, the Achuar had joined the Shuar, Kichua, and other Indigenous groups in a federation aimed at stopping oil exploitation. Then Achuar shamans began to have powerful dreams of big cities, huge industrial plants, and cars – things they had seen in photos brought by the missionaries. They understood that the oil company’s roads, bulldozers, and cranes were just symptoms of the real problem, what they came to call “the dream of the modern world.” They understood that this dream was creating what economists define as an unsustainable death economy.

Their dreams told them that they had to reach out to that which they most feared: us, the people who demand oil.

That night in 1993, sitting in an Achuar lodge, I experienced something that, as far as I knew, no one had ever before experienced. People threatened by an invading force had decided not to run from or fight it but rather to join forces with some of its members to try to change – everything. They asked Daniel and me to invite people from our world to come and visit them and form partnerships that would change the destructive dream.

During the August 2022 trip, our group lived in a beautiful eco-lodge the Achuar had built. We canoed and swam with freshwater dolphins, hiked through pristine forests, hung out with Achuar families, and took ayahuasca with their shamans. Later, during our closing dinner back in Quito, every one of the seventeen visitors expressed gratitude to the Achuar for teaching them the importance of dreaming a new dream for humanity and they each committed to taking actions that will help manifest that dream.

That particular trip was sponsored by the Pachamama Alliance, but it is one of many that takes people to learn from the Achuar and other Indigenous teachers. Daniel and I also facilitate trips to the Maya of Guatemala and the Kogi of Colombia. These diverse cultures share a common message: We have reached a pivotal moment in human history; we know that the socio-governmental-economic systems that today dominate the world are unsustainable, and we must change.

It is ironic that societies capable of sending people to the moon and creating computer models that warn of impending catastrophe seem to lack the intelligence and/or willpower to face this critical problem and take actions necessary to solve it — while societies that only recently became aware of the world beyond their lands are confronting the problem and urging us to join them in turning things around. Perhaps this apparent conundrum points out the deficiencies of societies that define people as apart from – instead of a part of – nature. The Achuar – like the Maya, Kogi, and all our Indigenous ancestors – understand the importance of honoring our connection to nature, listening to our dreams, and embracing change.

Nature is telling us in no uncertain terms that we must change. Covid has taught us that we can change. The Achuar remind us that our 200,000 or so years as humans are a testament to our ability to change. The Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon have been called both the lungs and the heart of the planet. Yes, they convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and, yes, they send the lifeblood of water coursing across the planet through the “flying rivers.” But, perhaps equally as essential is the message that emanates from them:

We must change,

We can change,

We will change.

Revisiting China’s Energy Crisis

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Two months of scorching heatwaves and drought plunged China into an energy security crisis.

The southwest province of Sichuan, for example, relies on dams to generate around 80% of its electricity, with growth in hydropower crucial for China meeting its net-zero by 2060 emissions target.

Sichuan suffered from power shortages after low rainfall and extreme temperatures over 40℃ dried up rivers and reservoirs. Heavy rainfall this week, however, has just seen power in Sichuan for commercial and industrial use fully restored, according to official Chinese media.

The energy crisis has seen Beijing shift its political discourse and proclaim energy security as a more urgent national mission than the green energy transition. Now, the government is investing in a new wave of coal-fired power stations to try to meet demand.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, China approved 8.63 gigawatts of new coal plants and, in May, announced C¥ 10 billion (A$2.1 billion) of investment in coal power generation. What’s more, it will expand the capacity of a number of coal mines to ensure domestic supply as the international coal market price jumped amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

China is responsible for around a third of global carbon dioxide emissions, which makes this latest rebound to fossil fuels a climate change emergency.

How did it come to this?

In 2021, China’s CO₂ emissions rose above 11.9 billion tonnes – their highest level in history and dwarfing those of other countries. And according to the International Energy Agency, rapid GDP growth and electrification of energy services caused China’s electricity demand to grow by 10% in 2021. This is faster than its economic growth at 8.4%.

China had been attempting to reduce its dependency on coal for decades, with the growth of coal consumption gradually flattening from 2014.

During its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), the government called off a number of coal power projects. Thermal power investment halved over this time, dropping from C¥ 117.4 billion in 2016 to 55.3 billion in 2020 (A$24.7-11.2 billion).

In September 2020, President Xi Jinping delivered China’s “dual carbon” goal at the United Nations General Assembly, saying China will hit peak emissions before 2030 and reach net-zero by 2060.

A few months later, this goal was moved ahead of schedule. At a summit of global leaders, Jinping promised that China’s coal use would peak in 2025.

But the downward trend of coal consumption started to rebound in 2021, with a 4.6% year-on-year increase, the highest growth rate in a decade.

Over 33 gigawatts of coal power generation, including at least 43 new power plants and 18 new blast furnaces, started construction in China in 2021. This is the highest level since 2016 and almost three times the rest of the world combined.

Then, in 2022, we witnessed the international coal market skyrocket as geopolitical tension from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and economic recovery from the pandemic boosted global demand. Beijing, in turn, increased domestic coal production with double-digit growth in the first half of 2022.

Tug of war between green energy and security

The current energy crisis is not only an unintended consequence of the drought, but also a result of its long-term net-zero emissions goal. Increased coal import costs and rash control of domestic coal production put China’s energy supply in question, and renewable energy wasn’t ready to fill the gap.

Indeed, it isn’t the first energy security crisis China has endured in recent years. Last year, dozens of provinces experienced “power cuts” partly due to long-term reductions in coal production between 2016-2020.

In response to the crisis, the People’s Daily newspaper – the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party – stated “the rice bowl of energy must be held in your own hands”. And Chinese Energy News called energy security a matter of national destiny.

Caught between green energy promises and dwindling energy supply, Beijing turned to see green energy as a secondary goal that could be put aside after energy security is fully guaranteed.

The principle of “establishment before abolition” (establishment of energy security before abolition of coal, xian li hou po) was reaffirmed in “Two Sessions”, an important political event in China held in March this year.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang positioned energy security to the same level of importance as food security in a Two Sessions government report.

A global emergency

The push for more coal power is at odds with China’s climate goals. According to China’s 13th Five Year Plan, coal-fired plants should be capped at generating 1,100 gigawatts of electricity.

To date, China has 1,074 gigawatts of coal power in operation, but more than 150 gigawatts of new plants have either been announced or permitted, according to the Global Energy Monitor.

The China Electricity Council – the industry group for China’s power sector – recommends the country reaches 1,300 gigawatts of coal-fired power in 2030 to meet the rising demand and strengthen energy security. If this occurs, it would see more than 300 new plants built.

Without more restrictions against China’s use of fossil fuels, the world will hardly meet Paris Agreement climate targets.

China is expected to cease coal use entirely by 2050 in order to successfully meet promised climate targets. But the more resources are invested, the harder it’ll be for China to get rid of fossil fuels.

The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) will be crucial in determining how China meets its carbon commitments and whether the world is on track to meet the 1.5℃ target. Under this plan, China wants carbon to peak by 2030, but the action plan remains vague.

As Professor David Tyfield of the Lancaster Environment Centre asserted: “until China decarbonises, we’re not going to beat climate change.”

This article is republished as a part of our Syndication with The Conversation. Click here to read the original

Artemis and The Hunt for The Moon

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Artemis smiled. “You have done well, my lieutenant. You have made me proud, and all those Hunters who perished in my service will never be forgotten. They will achieve Elysium, I am sure.“…Rick Riordan

Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto, is known in Greek mythology as the goddess of the hunt: of wilderness; and wildlife. Artemis is also the goddess of the Moon.

As the lore goes, Artemis was a virgin who only loved her hunting partner Orion.

Artemis is also the name of the gigantic rocket 37 stories in height named by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that will be launched on 29 August 2022 on it way to the Moon.  The rocket was presumably so named also because Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo. There is a distinct link between the twins in astronautical terms as the first Moon Program was named Apollo which started in 1961 by NASA culminating in two men walking on the Moon in 1969. 

The Artemis Programme will be carried out with the advanced Space Launch System (SLS) rockets and will be in three stages: Artemis 1 will be a test flight of the SLS rocket with the Orion spacecraft with no crew; Artemis 2 will fly SLS and Orion with a crew past the Moon, then circle it and return to Earth. This trip will be the farthest any human has gone into space; Artemis 3 will send a crew with the first woman and the next man to land on the Moon.

The broad aim and objective of the Artemis Program is to learn more about the Moon, the Sun and Earth and be a steppingstone for ultimate travel to Mars.  Within this broad goal is the search for water on the Moon with a view to using it and ultimately breaking down the components of water – Hydrogen and Oxygen – and using Hydrogen to power rockets and spacecraft for distant galactic travel. Other objectives are: to study the Moon to discover its mysteries; learn how to live and work on the surface of another celestial body where astronauts are just three days from home; and test the technologies that is needed to carry out missions to Mars with astronauts, which could involve a roundtrip of three years.

The Artemis Programme involves 12 countries including the United States and more are expected to join.  It has its genesis in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which sets out the fundamental principle –  “the freedom principle”  – that all countries have equal rights to explore outer space without any prejudices in accordance with international law. All countries have equal rights to transparency, interoperability, emergency assistance, the release of scientific data, the use of space resources, and the management of orbital debris. Under this broad legal and regulatory astronautical umbrella, the Artemis Accords were originally signed on October 13, 2020, by the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. These Accords have further opened opportunities of space diplomacy and international cooperation that were made possible by the International Space Station (ISS) Intergovernmental Agreement signed in 1998.

The United States and China have, in their policies, recognized the preeminent principle – that space exploration should be for the benefit of all humankind.  This is a good starting point. 

For over 20 years the ISS has been a beacon of outer space, bestowing much benefit to humanity through the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the participating countries of the European Space Agency. It has been reported that the work of the ISS is coming to an end and that NASA intends to keep operating the International Space Station until the end of 2030 after which the ISS would be crashed into a remote part of the Pacific Ocean known as Point Nemo.

To get some perspective on why space exploration is a multi billion-dollar expense which seemingly bears no immediate benefit to humanity, one has to go back in history.  In 2004, in the United States, NASA released its Vision for Space Exploration. The Vision moves towards its fundamental goal – which is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. To achieve this goal, the United States intends to: implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond; extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations; develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration; and promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests.  The vision prompted NASA to engage, between 2004 and 2007, with other space agencies in informal discussions on modalities, goals, possibilities, competencies and timeline for space exploration in the future. 

This vision is not unique to the United States.  The European Space Agency has its Aurora space exploration programme. China, India, Japan and Russia have ambitious national projects to explore the Moon or Mars, while future national missions are being discussed in Canada, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom.

In 2009, the United States Human Spaceflight Plans Committee (more popularly called the Augustine Committee, named after Norman R. Augustine, Chairman) in its report recognized that space exploration has become a global enterprise and that in the face of a burgeoning commercial space industry which could be encouraged to engage in space exploration, costs incurred by the government could be vastly reduced in the implementation of its space programme. The Committee also opined that the United States could lead a bold new international effort in the human exploration of space with the involvement of international partners.

The current vision of the leadership in the United States on space exploration, was articulated by President Obama on 15 April 2010, – that eventually there would be a manned mission on Mars.  President Obama did not give  a time line for this occurrence. This is in contrast to the declaration of President Kennedy in 1961 when he said about the moon missions: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth”.

Space exploration has always been, and will be driven by the need for political and technological one-upmanship and, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in the March/April 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs said: “If the United States commits to the goal of reaching Mars, it will almost certainly do so in reaction to the progress of other nations – as was the case with NASA, the Apollo programme, and the project that became the International Space Station.   For the past decade, I have joked with colleagues that the United States would land astronauts on Mars in a year or two if only the Chinese would leak a memo that revealed plans to build military bases there”.  De Grasse Tyson went on to say that this joke should not be taken lightly as the Chinese have released an official strategy paper in which they claim that they have a five-year plan to advance their space capabilities which include the launching of space laboratories, manned spaceships and space freighters and engaging in other activities of advanced space exploration.

It is a truism that no individual country or group of countries can regulate outer space, which is governed by a patchwork of international treaties, resolutions of the United Nations and industry standards.  However, international relations and domestic policy drive a nation’s direction towards outer space exploration and reflect individual State interests. The United States, which incontrovertibly is the leader among all spacefaring nations (which include  Brazil, Russia, India and China, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Israel the European Space Agency, Ukraine and Iran), is responsible for 75 percent of space funding worldwide and owns or operates 40 percent of all active spacecraft in orbit. 

Garold Larson, Alternate Representative to the First Committee of the 64th Session of the United Nations Assembly held on 19 October 2009, succinctly outlined the policy of the United States on space exploration.  The foremost principle outlined by Larson was that the United States will continue to uphold the principles of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which the United States recognized as providing fundamental guidelines required for the free access to and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes.  He went on to say that the United States will continue to take an active role in identifying and implementing cooperative efforts with established and emerging members of the international spacefaring community to ensure the safety of the space assets of all nations and also expand cooperation with other like-minded spacefaring nations and with the private sector to identify and protect against intentional and unintentional threats to its space capabilities.

The European Union, in 2008, published a draft Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, which it later revised in September 2010. The fundamental postulate of this code is that member states should establish policies and procedures to minimize the possibility of accidents or any form of harmful interference with other States’ right to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space. The Code applies three basic principles in pursuance of its overall objective:  freedom of access to space for peaceful purposes; preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit; and due consideration for the legitimate defense interests of states.

Here is my take.

There are two fundamental issues. Firstly, space exploration must continue for technology to progress.    Above all it will give humankind a sense of perspective, as to who we are, where we have come from, and where we are headed. Secondly, since space diplomacy is an incipient but rapidly evolving process, the key to international cooperation would lie in relations between the United States and China.  Both countries have, in their policies, recognized the preeminent principle – that space exploration should be for the benefit of all humankind.  This is a good starting point. 

A joint space programme between key players of North America, Europe and Asia could greatly stabilize Asia and very likely forge reconciliation between China and Japan and obviate burgeoning rivalry between China and India. Given the fact that both countries – The United States and China – had adopted (for what it’s worth) what they call a “constructive partnership” in world affairs, the United States could, with the association of a strong Europe and Russia, engage in inclusive discussions with China on collaborative involvement in space exploration.

How to Stop Wasting Your Life

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8 mins read

“This is precisely the risk modern man runs: he may wake up one day to find that he has missed half his life.”

Carl Jung, Practice of Psychotherapy

Psychotropic drugs have become one of the most common forms of treatment for anxiety disorders and depression. But these drugs are not very good at curing people and often they just become crutches for lifelong psychological cripples. Fortunately, there are alternative ways to treat anxiety and depression. In this video we are going to turn to Carl Jung, one of history’s greatest psychiatrists, for drug-free advice on how to find a cure to these psychological disorders.

“. . . the elite still cling firmly to the notion that [anxiety] disorders originate in alterations within the brain. Unfortunately many run-of-the-mill doctors still swear by this gospel to the detriment of their patients, whom our age produces in swarms. Nearly all these patients have been convinced by the medical dogma that their sickness is of a physical nature.” ~Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life

Jung believed that most cases of anxiety and depression are not the product of a faulty brain, but of a faulty way of life. The first step in Jung’s method of treatment, therefore, was not a drug prescription, but a dose of psychological insight – insight regarding what to expect from life and insight into what it takes to change. With respect to the former, Jung noted that many people believe that life should be easy, suffering kept to a minimum and difficulties avoided. But Jung would be blunt with his patients telling them that life is not easy, and comfort and peace are not our natural state. Or as Jung wrote:

“In the last resort it is highly improbable that there could ever be a therapy that got rid of all difficulties. Man needs difficulty; they are necessary for health. What concerns us here is only an excessive amount of them.” ~Carl Jung, Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche

Accepting that difficulties are inevitable and nothing worth achieving comes easy, places us on the firm ground of reality from which to change. For when we accept that life is hard, we will also realize that only through a strengthened character do we have any chance of living a good life. If, on the other hand, we remain caught in the delusion that life should be easy, we will be less motivated to overcome a weak character, as we will falsely hope that if we just give it time life will get easier.

“Life is a battleground. It always has been, and always will be; and if it were not so, existence would come to an end.” ~Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols

There is another piece of psychological insight that Jung saw as crucial for his patients to understand – namely, that our problems exist in the present and that present problems are not solved by digging into our past. Many people like to believe that only when they have determined why they are the way they are, can they move forward in life. But Jung believed that an excessive fixation on the past was merely an avoidance tactic used to evade the difficult task of facing up to what needs to be done now.

“People should know that not only the neurotic, but everyone, naturally prefers never to seek the causes of any inconvenience in himself, but to push them as far away from himself as possible in space and time. Otherwise he would run the risk of having to make a change for the better. Compared with this odious risk it seems infinitely more advantageous either to put the blame on to somebody else, or, if the fault lies undeniably with oneself, at least to assume that it somehow arose of its own accord in early infancy.” (V7) ~Carl Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

With these doses of psychological insight, Jung would turn to the first actionable step in his method of treatment; and this was to help his patients face up to what he called the shadow, for as he writes:

“. . .the first requisite of any thorough psychological method, [is] for consciousness to confront its shadow.” ~Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis

The shadow is Jung’s term for the elements of our character that we deny, and force into the unconscious, due to shame, insecurity, or censure. It is, in other words, the side of our personality we wish to hide from others, as well as from ourselves.

“…there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” ~ Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion

Jung believed that facing up to the shadow was crucial in the process of self-change for several reasons. Firstly, we do ourselves no favours by denying the inferior parts of our personality, we merely lose control of how, and when, these traits emerge. If, on the other, hand we acknowledge a character flaw we can learn how to control its expression and so minimize the damage it does in our life, or as Jung explains:

“Anything conscious can be corrected, but anything that slips away into the unconscious is beyond the reach of correction and, its rank growth undisturbed, is subject to increasing degeneration. Happily, nature sees to it that the unconscious contents will irrupt into consciousness sooner or later and create the necessary confusion.” ~Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis

But the shadow is not only made up of weakness, rather some elements of it are strengths which we repressed in our youth because our peers, family members, or society at large, gave us the false impression that these traits were bad. Some people, for example, repress the ability to express anger or the ability to stand up for themselves. Another benefit of becoming conscious of the shadow, therefore, is that we gain access to life-promoting character traits, or as Jung writes:

“. . .the shadow is merely somewhat inferior, primitive, unadapted, and awkward; not wholly bad. It even contains . . .qualities which would in a way vitalize and embellish human existence, but convention forbids!” ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion

One way to become conscious of the shadow is to observe the weaknesses, flaws, and insecurities of those close to us. For not only do most of us repress similar character traits, but we also tend to project elements of our shadow onto other people. If, therefore, we pay attention to which character traits of our friends and family bother us, we may also gain a glimpse of our own shadow. In addition to observing others, another way to bring the shadow into the light of consciousness is to reflect on the motives for our actions, especially actions we are ashamed of, and to be open to self-criticism when it is warranted. For as Jung notes, often the only thing that is preventing us from seeing our shadow is the ability to be honest with ourselves: “With a little self-criticism one can see through the shadow” (Carl Jung Aion).

Along with becoming more conscious of the shadow, another integral aspect of Jung’s method of treatment was helping his patients find a meaning to their lives. For Jung believed that when stuck in a deep depression, or consumed by an anxiety disorder, to be cured necessitates discovering a “role as one of the actors in the divine drama of life” (Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life). To understand what was meant by this we can turn to an encounter Jung had with a chief of the Pueblo tribe in the first half of the 20th century. Jung was discussing with this man the traditions of his tribe when the chief made the following remark:

“Yes, we are a small tribe, and these Americans, they want to interfere with our religion. They should not do it, because we are the sons of the Father, the Sun. He who goes there”; (pointing to the sun) – “that is our Father. We must help him daily to rise over the horizon and to walk over Heaven. And we don’t do it for ourselves only: we do it for America, we do it for the whole world.” (V18) ~ Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life

Jung understood that to many in the modern day this statement would sound crazy and archaic. But as he further notes the members of this tribe did not suffer like we suffer. They were not infected by neuroses, anxiety disorders, or depression. They did not fill themselves with pills each day, and they were not debilitated by addictions. Rather this tribe was composed of highly functioning individuals who saw themselves as fulfilling their duty as an actor in the divine drama of life, and their lives were rich in meaning and purpose. Or as Jung wrote:

“These people have no problems. They have their daily life, their symbolic life. They get up in the morning with a feeling of their great and divine responsibility: they are the sons of the Sun, the Father, and their daily duty is to help the Father over the horizon – not for themselves alone, but for the whole world. You should see these fellows: they have a natural fulfilled dignity.” ~ Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life

Jung contrasts this way of life, with a Western woman he met. This lady, as Jung notes, was a compulsive traveller, always running from one place to the next, always seeking, but never really finding what she was looking for.

“I was amazed when I looked into her eyes – the eyes of a hunted, a cornered animal – seeking, seeking, always in the hope of something. . . She is possessed . . .And why is she possessed? Because she does not live the life that makes sense. Hers is a life utterly, grotesquely banal. . .with no point in it at all. If she dies today, nothing has happened, nothing has vanished – because she was nothing!” ~ Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life

This compulsive seeking infects many in the Western world. Some run from one destination to another, some chase romantic partners, others are compulsive seekers of money, prestige, fame, or recognition on social media. But whatever the outward form it takes, the underlying motivation is the same – the seeker is trying to run away from the banality of their existence. They are seeking to fill the void of emptiness that comes from living a meaningless life. But as Jung explains this void cannot be filled with things, or even experiences, what fills this void is knowing that we are living in a way that makes a difference, or as he writes concerning the woman he met:

“But if she could say, “I am the daughter of the Moon. Every night I must help the Moon, my Mother, over the horizon” – ah, that is something else! Then she lives, then her life makes sense, and makes sense in all continuity, and for the whole of humanity. That gives peace, when people feel that they are living [as] actors in the divine drama. That gives the only meaning to human life; everything else is banal and you can dismiss it. A career, producing of children, are all maya compared with that one thing, that your life is meaningful.” ~ Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life

Jung was not suggesting that we all adopt the Puebloan mythology, rather his point is that many people suffer because their life makes no sense. And the task for those who want to be free of anxiety or depression is to discover this sense. We must, in other words, find a way to justify our existence, so that we, like the Puebloan, can believe that our life is meaningful. For some this can be accomplished through religion, for others by contributing in a substantial way to the promotion of values such as justice, freedom, or community, while others will find it through the creative act. But for those of us in the modern West, where we lack a dominant mythology, it is up to us, and us alone, to discover how we can play a meaningful role in the divine drama of life. For the few who accomplish this task, a fulfilling life will define their future, for the many who don’t, years or decades of pointless suffering and compulsive seeking will be their fate.

“I am only concerned with the fulfilment of that which is in every individual, . .That is the whole problem; that is the problem of the true Pueblo: that I do today everything that is necessary so that my father can rise over the horizon.” ~ Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life

This content was produced by the Academy of Ideas and reproduced with permission from the authors. Click here to watch and read the original

Photos: Free meal project of Jaffna University

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Snr. Prof. Sampath Amarathunga, Chairman University Grants Commission visited the University of Jaffna recently and spent his time with students. He along with his colleagues enjoyed their lunch with students at the “Community Kitchen”, free meal project of the University of Jaffna.  Prof Sampath sitting with Prof S Srisatkunarajah, Vice Chancellor and V. Kandeepan, Registrar of University of Jaffna

Prof Sampath, chairman of UGC is taking a selfie with a group of students in the University of Jaffna [ Photo: Sri Lanka Guardian ]