Tag Archives: Respect


People sometimes use the word education when in fact they mean brainwashing. I’m quite sure that most people who do that are not aware of the fact that they do so because they have been brainwashed themselves.

An example: “We should put more funding in education of African countries so that they can build a democracy from the bottom up”. Great idea, but how would this look in practice? Money would go to certain organizations, monitored by their funders according to Western standards. They would employ people to build education programs, benchmarked along Western thought, then train people to teach the deep truths that stand at the base our beautiful democracy, powered solely by light and guided by the highest ethics. Then, at the end, of course, they are checked for optimal performance.

Such structures provided by nation states are often seen as education. Mandatory programs, packages of concepts, knowledge that is transferred and tested, ranking the students into their overseeable life paths, may lift society to a different standard, but they are only a limited part, a controllable bit, of a collective learning process that could also be tuned to enlivening, respect and curiosity-driven exploration of whatever it is that the human mind is eager to find out. I would say real education starts at the point where teacher and student receive the space and the freedom to show each other their views on reality in all its colours.

Transmission of knowledge is important, but we should honour the pathway through which this occurs. That pathway would in my view be called mutual trust. The possibility that another might see something out there which you don’t, not because he or she is more or less capable or suitable to see it, but merely because that other stands on a different position. Exams and profiles undermine such trust.

To translate this back to the omnipotent West, perhaps indeed, there was a time when our long fought for ideals made sense and empowered society at large. But these ideals are starting to take the form of dogmas, heritage we should protect and keep in place with tighter rules and regulations. Our knowledge is growing old, expiring, starting to fail us and begging for fresh inputs from the same societies we have kept in the enlightened dark for centuries.

And yet more importantly, I think we should all allow our inner wise guys to sometimes shut up and listen to the voice of the weak and silent for a change. The fact that we still understand education in a top-down way, taking all these quality checks for granted, shows us a whole lot about our status quos. If only we could see that in the mirror…



As I mentioned earlier, I’m ascribing names to emotions and sensations I know no name for, in order to be able to talk about them in a more tangible, physical or maybe visual way. Today, I’d like to discuss outsling. It’s a happy day for me, because it means that from now on I can say: “apologies, I have outsling” to justify my behaviour.

I chose this word because of the outward, slingshot-like movement in it. When I have it, it feels as if some force from inside me pushes the mental, witty part ahead. Sometimes it’s as if my face is pressed against that of the person I’m talking with. I get in between myself and the environment without being in relationship with it. It is out of control in the sense that the aware me agrees with this propulsion, even if it is recognizes the risks.

When I have outsling, I will not respect the laws of politeness, nor will I attempt to spare someone’s feelings, even if I’m vaguely aware of them. I don’t mean to disrespect them per se. My actions precede my morale, meaning I feel careless about that aspect of myself. Perhaps my care concerns the wrong things. But even if I’m divided I’m alert, as if a part of me is more blended with the events around me. In outsling, I’d be the first to make a comical or sarcastic remark about superficial things. I think of myself as funny and some people may indeed laugh. I could buy crappy food or drink too much alcohol. Instead of making love, I hammer. If I’d find the button that annihilates the universe during outsling, I could push it to express my disagreement with its designer.

Outsling can be brief, but it could also last for a few hours. Short events are usually triggered by strange names, ideas I find silly or unusual aspects of someones outfit. They feel like a subtle revenge that was called for: excellent filters against people who cling too much to their act.

Longer lasting outslings are mostly caused by exhaustion, high doses of caffeine or simply because it’s that time of the month. They are harder to call back and usually end up in a lack of force. I feel empty and meaningless afterwards, as if most of myself has indeed been shot in all directions and I have to go around to recollect all pieces. The alertness is then completely gone. Such longer lasting ones work against myself in a deeper way. As if I run so far ahead, that I can no longer protect the more delicate me.

Outsling can be lots of fun, but it can also be destructive for myself and people close to me. As I grow older, I learn to control it better. If I can persuade myself to make an effort to halt it, I go clean up the house, walk in a park or do some sports. As if one being has to catch up with the other to be able to calm it down.

Baby Steps

Among us are elders, spiritual leaders and other representatives of indigenous cultures from all over the world. We are sitting in the circular Music Room of the Fonseca building. In this final session, we are shaping a message for the WILD10 conference. Under time pressure.

For the last few days here in Salamanca, I have been translating Felipe Gómez. He represents the initiative of Oxlajuj Ajpop, a Mayan alliance to preserve sacred natural sites and spiritual cultures of Guatemala. According to the Mayan calendar, he is air; a communicator. His speeches have been gentle but strong, and it is an honour to let him speak through my mouth. Some of his key points are that the economy needs to change, that we should continuously dig into our unique potential and that we should work together save the world.

The meeting has kicked off in a confusing way. People keep dropping in, and we enlarge the circle every time. I fear we’ll end up diffuse. Shay, who gathered us, came in stressed and fearful, something she picked up in an earlier conversation on the economic value of ecosystems. She interrupts a speaker, but is called back by a representative of the Tla-o-qui-aht, who asks for the rule that people don’t be interrupted. Interruption is a sign of disrespect in his culture.

Just after the final entrance of people and the final enlargement of the circle, Julie asks for an opening ritual. How did she know? Her friend Terry sings a song of his childhood, through which he calls the spirits for protection of the newborn. During yesterday night’s diner, he told us in a powerful voice: “we’re setting baby steps now, but in 20 years, we’ll be running”. The song restores peace in the group and the conversation becomes more meaningful. But we have only half an hour left.

Much is said, more remains. Perhaps it’s not the words that matter now, but the fact that we’re together. We trust in our common future and if we keep our faith strong, our actions might indeed make a difference. It may not be that visible yet, but up here in the Music Room, I’ve felt a movement rise. After over a millennium of suppression, the voice of nature is publically spoken. It won’t be silenced this time.