“Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”
I’m sitting in a bio cafe and store on Karl Marx strauße, across the road is a Turkish bakery and dividing the road is a strip of construction. Drilling, fences, detours, trucks carrying asphalt and men wearing protective gear. A regular picture of an urban, city landscape. I could be in Berlin, Dehli or Sydney. But in this little nook of vitality I’m feeling pretty chilled, internally.The sense of being around products that were produced with an ethical consciousness, an understanding of how important natural production methods are, is vastly different from the experience of being inside an Aldi,
Netto or even a DM (which has a big range of natural-ish products). There is no excess. Organic matter wrapped in plastic isn’t on display here. Things can breathe and aren’t absorbing toxic chemicals which later end up circulating inside me, although it is on a busy main road. So I do wonder about the impact of that. Boxes of stuff stacked on each other with use-by dates 2 years from now don’t exist and the prices, I investigate, are not significantly different. That’s by my standard of course, which I know
Is not applicable to people in different circumstances. But a couple of euro cents, two or three maximum, is affordable to me, someone who is largely self employed and hasn’t got a four figure number in savings. This space is smaller, the lighting is less sterile and the feeling in here is calm. I don’t feel rushed in here. I have room to think as I sit and drink a coffee. My thoughts lead to analyzing this calmness. I can’t say definitively what the cause of the phenomena is, I did meditate this morning and have been doing things which nourish me because I’m not accustomed to the winter season and being sensitive to the weather, I have to take care of myself or I’ll get melancholic, grey like the season. And yes, while I also find that darkness a rich place to explore and express myself through, I’m kind of over. It’s exhausting. Anyway… what else is impacting why I feel happy in here?
I’m thinking about our story as a species and how the human body has been placed into unnatural, loud, over stimulating environments which, for thousands of years, it has not been accustomed to. Chaotic, devoid of real light, no air flow. We’ve jumped from existing in natural places or, even less distant in our history, smaller villages, towns and exercising our daily lives interacting minimally with architectural structures expressing a mechanic, dehumanized culture. Surely, this sudden leap into ‘development’ is not one we have had the proper evolutionary time to adapt to and it can’t be beneficial to our nervous systems and the oldest parts of our wiring. Rarely if ever, do I hear a person say ‘I had the best time inside the shopping center today, god I felt so relaxed and happy.’
Recently, I watched some footage from Black Friday sales in the USA, people viciously pushing past each other, four people severely injured and two people killed, according to an article I read on inquisitr. How traumatic. These contemporary infrastructures and the normalized social behavior of keeping to yourself, avoiding eye contact, conversation and connection, do not seem to promote healthy human life. Detached and estranged is what we become, conversing through our screens, disengaged from the human right next to us. It’s ironic that I described this as a social behavior because it is the antithesis of warm, genuine connection. We are emotional animals capable of different layers of thought, far more complex than mere extensions of some force whose ultimate goal is to profit in the form of abstract, intangible sums stored in off shore bank accounts, circulating through wires and greedy hands. It’s no wonder I feel better in here then I do shopping or sitting in places which fuel inequality and are not consciously designed to make me feel comfortable or good in the space.
I had to go to Karstadt and get a key copied. I’d avoided that mall for as long as possible. From the outside it looks like a wondrous ode to traditional Expressionist architecture, articulating fragmentation and devoid of any spirit. Now there are thousands of fairy lights decorating It’s exterior, a twisted disguise, beaconing in the masses with shiny Christmas sale signs. Yes, baby Jesus was born and he wanted us to buy heaps of crap produced by people who we’ll never meet but work for us. To fill our stockings, houses and eventually garbage bins primarily with objects we could do without. Working constantly to have a subhuman standard of living. In environments that most of us would probably last a week in. You think you don’t own slaves? We in the industrialized world have 147 energy slaves working for us 24/7. If you don’t know about this concept, it’s pretty interesting to look into.
I walk through these spaces and I imagine where all this stuff has come from and see the hands of women, children, men laboring away, I see all the wasted energy, both human and material, that has gone into this mode of production and I feel sad. I like Christmas because it’s a time year the family gets together as equals, nobody is the point of focus and we hang out, laugh , share and enjoy each other. These are the real gifts. To those of us who know already, the solution is relatively clear but is realized in different ways and evolving as we continue to understand the situation better. I value the diversity amongst our collective efforts to make life good for all living beings.
Even as I find myself living in vibrant, technocratic, urban Berlin, where the natural life is quite distant, riding my bike down Hermanstrauße daily. Weaving myself through traffic, locals, migrants, refugees, I see that the desire to live is what unites us all. More so, the desire to live fulfilling lives, where we are free to be in our own story as the author and valued for our authentic selves. Within a community which fosters us and encourages our full potential. This place is attractive to me because of these observations. It has transformed from an icon of ideological repression, muting the soul to a place where the majority of people are accepting and although far from my dream of Utopia, the traditional spirit of Anarchy infuses the city with life, evolution, sharing and diversity.
I finish my coffee and the woman running the shop comes and lights the candle in front me, smiling and apologizing for not doing it earlier. Her simple gesture on this Wednesday afternoon charges me more with positivity and I feel ready to get back on my bike and cycle home. Through the noise and chaos, back to my little apartment where I am lucky to be living right now. The moon is full and so is my spirit, with hope for this planet and what our brilliance can create together. I could write and say more but I’m sick of looking at my iPhone.