Monday, January 9, 2012

A year in reflection and the things we look forward to in 2012 - a belated new year's wish.

On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow. – Heraclitus. 

“滴水穿石” – Old Chinese idiom: dripping water wears away stone.

If you were to ask a Taoist, change is like water: natural, harmonious, steadfast, and imperceptible at times; if you were to ask a Buddhist, change is from within, constant and incontrovertible part of the soul; but change is not without a sensationalized external presence. The Chinese have an old saying that tells of rain drops defeating the mighty stone after a thousand years—where the stone once laid now reminisce the eroded glories beaten by the smallest drops of persistence—Change is a powerful thing.

Change, however, is much of an illusion as well. It inspires empty slogans—marketing madness without a conscience—and often it causes change for the worse, for profit; not better, nowhere near positive progress. The illusion of this change reflects our collective conscience, so vaguely and constitutionally defined and always facing a different new and irrelevant world, often yield to the powerful lobbyists and irresponsible market forces; thus we shape our black letter laws that stands in some weird shade of gray reflecting our confusion about positive social change.

At the wake of multiples of economic, environmental, and social meltdowns worldwide, there is a renewed interest in social change and building responsible social infrastructures for sustainable growth; but we continue to discover that even the cliché of change itself is at risk of becoming meaningless and purely profit driven—rudely unphilosophical and pragmatically misguided. In this landscape, we find ourselves looking for changes but finding emptiness and no exit; we find nothing more than the mere form of change, not the substance. The difference between real social change and empty market slogans, between substance and form, thus becomes an important question we must answer; as we come to see, their differences are slight, a thin line divides change for progress and change for the sake of perpetuating the original sins.

I often hear that changes must occur in orderly fashion, through laws and in the context of a rule of law society. I’ve also come to see that rule of law is often an empty idiom, full of discrete malformations of control and undue influence. This results in a form of rule by law, one which the autocrats employ to control the masses and convince them of their happiness.

We must remember that laws rarely shape reality; often it is the reality that makes the laws and the ignorant are rule by these laws. These laws goes unchallenged, faces no threat of intelligence. Often we find ourselves happy with these laws, because they do not affect the masses, only the few less privileged, hidden from the views of the public and media. However much we like to believe our civil society depends on passing these laws, we can’t regulate ourselves into a civil society and rule of law alone does not make a nation’s ideals. To do so we become autocrats, we are ruled by law, worse we become mindless drones—rage against the machines in silence. Someone is bound to be disappointed by the collective wisdom; someone is bound to manipulate the collective wisdom for their selfish benefits. Our civil society, it seems, is more depended on the people’s own actions than what we can muster collectively and pontificate ourselves in black letter laws into buffoonery. Our civil society is depended on our conscience.

No one but Time is the judge of progress in the changes we adopt; no one but Time is the judge of our conscience. This also makes social change dangerously insinuate nothing; the only escape from nothingness, from no exit, is to measure what one is willing to give in exchange for making the change and making that progress.

In reflection of this past year at The Green Elephant (dot) US, I see the changes I have made to the contents of this blog. I began with an obsession with food and my past indulgences with a fatherland so far from me. Now, this blog has transformed into somewhat more inclusive of the topic of sustainability; yet I am afraid that the contents are still very limited to my own personal views reflecting a still infant maturation process. In the wake of this admission, I acknowledge my weakness and incomplete knowledge of things. I leave you with the thought of my imperfections and I hope in the coming years I will face the things of which I know little yet significantly relevant to my own growth. I hope to be able to better distinguish the substance and form of change and of sustainability.

Thank you for participating in my writing experiments in the past year, and I look forward to an more progressive 2012. Happy Belated New Year!

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