The turmoil of our current times has made me spend a lot of time reflecting on how to create a better world around me. That means for myself, loved ones and society at large. And there’s been a lot of us in the world with the same goals. That’s why you see all of these protests for justice, equality and freedom. There has been an unprecedented level of global activism and unity. The murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police department has caused global protests and a united human front. And despite a few crazy people that the media likes to shove in our face, most people on all ends of the spectrum were able to admit that Derek Chauvin needs to face repercussions for murdering that man. And large percentages of the protesters in the United States have been white.
It is clear that this isn’t a race war, it’s faux authority figures against the people. The vast majority of people that are killed by police in the United States and Canada are white simply because white people are the majority. The “race war” is a sham perpetuated by the media in order to continue the tactic of divide and conquer that has been used to keep people dependent on existing systems and industries. Racist cops certainly exert their inferiority complex on black people but that might just be a human psychological power move. Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo assigned paid volunteers to be either inmates or guards in a simulated prison in the basement of the school‘s psychology building. Very quickly, the guards became cruel, and the prisoners more submissive and depressed. The situation grew chaotic, and the experiment, meant to last two weeks, had to be ended after five days. All of the students passed several tests to check their mental stability and they were all fairly regular and average.
The lesson drawn from the research was that situations can bring out the worst in people. That, in the absence of firm instructions of how to act, we’ll act in accordance to the roles we are assigned. And that might be why certain police officers feel the need to exert their force and dominance over people, not because they themselves are cruel, but because that is the systemic, institutionalized, and cultural nature of the circumstance. That’s not an excuse but it is a reality.
People tend to act in accordance with their culture and environment. And it’s the same reason why a lot of us tend to be submissive and depressed and rationalize our circumstances and the state of the world around us and act within the confines of the roles we are assigned. We tend to blame our circumstances exclusively on the system and move through life as cogs in an outlined machine. People who are involved in the infrastructure of our system such as the industries who control food, energy,clothing, media and whatever other transaction of goods and services, have a vested interest in monetizing all of the tasks that you need completed, and so they also have a vested interest in your ignorance of your own ability to critically think and get the task done yourself, and they are dependent on your submissiveness to the rules and regulations of the land because of your lack of leverage.
If you can grow your own food, build your own house, light your own energy, create your own transportation and just be able to maneuver and sustain yourself and community, you won’t need the systems in place which are ultimately systems of control. I’m a first generation Ethiopian-Canadian kid. I’m from the nomadic, pastoral Afar ethnic group, I’m literally one generation removed from a self sustaining civilization that didn’t have supermarkets, corporations, or external industries. I’m one generation removed from tribal communities that trade among each other and sustain themselves in the maximum way. They haven’t yet refined the process of a self sustaining civilization because of different rigid cultural setbacks like ideologies, environmental issues, beliefs and active saboteurs from the outside world, but they still maintain their self sufficient lifestyles. They actively make something out of nothing and create industry and product with no formal education, and barely any capital or resources, but they make the most of what they have with what they have.
That’s the makeup of humanity and that’s really why anything exists. But I’m still a black Canadian kid that grew up in Toronto with the Popeyes, Wendy’s and McDonald’s, Food Basics, Walmart and convenience stores across the street. It’s easy to believe that I need the government and corporations more than they need me. I’ve been to schools where teachers have put me down and made me feel like a failure and incapable of amounting to anything. And that’s why we’re slaves to the idea of money. Because money has become the access pass to be provided for. Money has become our only ticket to survival. And a lot of us that live in areas with high poverty and crime rates tend to blame our circumstances completely on the operations of the system because of this fallacy.
You can learn how to do anything and you don’t really need any industry or system of governance. If you live in an area where you’re not starving to death, you are relatively healthy and young, are able bodied and have access to the internet and public libraries, the burden of the future state of your circumstances and the changes they require can only be placed on you. And I understand this is a controversial stance in today’s day and age where we view things in terms of the oppression hierarchy. I also know I may be oversimplifying the situation and there definitely is a level of truth to that. As a black man a racist employer might not hire me, I might be an unwitting suspect just based on the colour of my skin, I might get killed by a police officer or someone that looks like me because of a case of mistaken identity, I might lack certain foundational knowledge because my community lacked the right funding and resources for my school, but I also have the internet, a local library, my hands, my health, my mental faculties and my youth, all of these things are enough to try and make a change for my life and the life of those around me. And that’s not just a Canadian, American, black, white or western thing. As a human being, if all of society crumbles tomorrow, you can survive and also rebuild it. You can create something from nothing.
There’s a guy on Youtube that goes by Primitive Technology that builds houses and other stuff, on his own, with minimal resources, raw materials and without the use of conventional tools. He welds his own tools. And he’s not the only one, there are tons of channels of people doing the same thing and there’s tons of communities that do the same thing. That’s what people are. Now imagine if you give someone like that the correct resources, or more resources than they need. My great grandfather was nomadic and would rebuild and destroy his house every night, and create weapons, and different products and machinery for self sustenance. I truly wonder what he would do if he had a Home Depot and was given access to the information to be able to refine his process of self sustenance towards the larger community. I wonder how much value people who laboured to conceptualize and then create the original incarnation of the infrastructures we use for agriculture, transportation, plumbing and energy would add if they had all of these stores and access to information we have.
And this isn’t to say that we should go full Ted Kazyncki and move into the wild, but understand that we don’t have to be a product of our environments. We don’t have to let ourselves be the ball in this systematic game of pong, being tossed around from one end to the other by the state of external circumstance. There have definitely been external factors that have given someone else a head start over you, there is no doubt about that. But at a certain point in life we need to stop blaming everything outside of ourselves and figure out what we can personally do to turn our circumstances around. There are things within our reach that we can work on to better our immediate surroundings. We don’t need anyone to let us in or accept us. And that includes systems, governments, cities, countries, jobs and institutions. Those who want to better their own lives and the lives of those around them should find other people who share that goal and create a community based on that foundation. Because anyone can be poor, but not everyone wants to fix their circumstances.
Many people have filled their minds up with non existent barriers and an idea that there’s an insurmountable enemy that is actively trying to stop them and that’s just not true. That belief is self limiting garbage perpetuated by systems of governance. This isn’t some pick yourself up by your bootstrap republican rant, this is a 21 year old black man telling you that your only limit to actualizing your full ability is yourself. I’m not saying everyone should be a billionaire or even talking exclusively about finances. I’m saying those who want to better themselves and their communities shouldn’t listen to that defeatist mentality that promotes passivity and stagnation. Anyone who remains stagnant and passive about their negative circumstances, instead of actively working on ways to better them, isn't living. I have been there and that mentality had me actively focused on seeking more comfort and blaming all of my circumstances on some invisible enemy instead of educating myself, finding my passions and hobbies and adding value to the world around me instead of solely consuming from it.
That's where the feeling of fulfillment we seek comes from. When you learn anything, you elevate everything. In trying to better any circumstance in your life, you elevate your existence, you make life run smoother and better, and seeing those results pushes you to continue creating, learning and elevating your life and the lives of those around you. And that enhances your ability to critically think and solve problems in a creative and elegant manner. Everything from exercising to writing poetry, making music, even juggling, if your goal is to learn this new skill and get better at it and seek excellence, you begin to excel more and more in all facets of life, you become more confident and are able to solve problems in other areas of your life.
Adding value to ourselves and those around us is where all of the joys in life come from, from learning things we find interesting to the process of creation, refinement, failing and learning on the job and ultimately adding value to life while doing something we enjoy doing and even possibly making it a means of income, entertainment and education. And this message isn’t meant for everyone either. There are some people who are perfectly content with complaining in passivity. There’s people who just want to consume and complain instead of addressing problems and tending to them.There’s people who would rather just smoke weed, eat, sleep, play video games, complain and die, this isn’t for you.
This is for those people who see glaring problems in their immediate world, smoke weed, eat, play video games, and also look for the information on how to solve the problem and attain the necessary skills that will help solve problems and add value to society around them. There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. And that’s the spirit of the protests around the world. It’s the spirit of unity and change. One of the main changes has to become self sustenance and sufficiency while adding value.
During business negotiations the party with leverage, which is usually the one who can provide something the other party needs, has more say in terms of the outcome. By attaining the ability to provide value you have more say in society. As of now regardless of how much we protest, those of us who can’t provide value can’t make any systemic and structural change because we have no power or leverage. Our power can’t be militarizing because we don’t manufacture weapons. So our power has to be from the value we can provide.
The China–United States trade war is an ongoing economic conflict between China and the United States. President Donald Trump in 2018 began setting tariffs and other trade barriers on China with the goal of forcing it to make changes to what the U.S. says are "unfair trade practices". The United States would love to not trade with China and manufacture everything locally but China provides undeniable value that gives them leverage. This isn’t for defeatist complainers, this is to inspire doers. This is for those who are willing to move past the marching and protesting into actionable change. We’ve already protested. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were protesting, they were also unarmed black men who were shot and killed.
It's obvious that working for change within the confines of larger systems is pointless. We have to work on building ourselves. That means self sustenance and sufficiency, attaining information, resources and capital to the point where you can have leverage. In the same way that Colin Kaepernick is able to maintain his stance about the NFL and police brutality because of his Nike deal. Because if the NFL was his sole source of income then he would have been blackballed and never heard from again. But now his message holds power because of the capital behind it where he’s able to create an ad that will be viewed by billions that exposes the NFL for their blatant racism. Colin had financial leverage but that's not the only type. If we build our foundation to the point where the system needs us more than dismisses us, that is when we can make change.
We can scream for a socialist revolution, defunding the police, capitalism, prisons and various other abolishment and reform measures but the powers that be don’t take us seriously because we have no leverage. We are collectively hopelessly dependent on the current system for all of the practical aspects of our life. Some of us can boycott institutions that use prison labour but if the vast majority of consumers still purchase those products then the business model is successful and they see no reason to reform. And there aren’t enough of us with enough leverage to be able to make the necessary changes. 1 percent of the population is hoarding and in control of the land, industries and resources. But 99 percent of people are not incapable of working together to acquire the necessary skills, resources and information in order to create industry. The globe’s richest 1% own half the world’s wealth, according to a new report highlighting the growing gap between the super-rich and everyone else. But we have the facilities and resources available to educate ourselves and manufacture industries and services.
Protesting is a good thing and so are these calls for change. But the next steps have to be actionable. I think the only actionable thing those of us with no information or skills can do is to acquire the necessary information, skills and resources and work towards self sustenance and sufficiency. I think we have to work on our creativity, physical and mental health, and educate ourselves on practical things like how systems work, how things are made and what tools we need in order to make things ourselves. It's not going to be easy, but it is necessary for the greater good of society at large. We need to contextualize our place in the world, and in history, and understand that there are people in much worse conditions, doing much more with much less access to resources and information, and that motivates me to want to do more with what I have.
Links to Independently and Creatively Better The World:
Blue Host: For true entrepreneurial, self sufficient creativity in our modern age, you will need a website. And a good host is Blue Host. They give you a free domain name for the 1st Year. They include a free ssl certificate so your site is secure. They have a 1-click WordPress install and 24/7 support.
DistroKid: To start on your path to self sufficiency you need a system of distribution and DistroKid has helped me a lot in conveniently distributing my music and honing my craft without having a record label or industry backing.
Custom Ink: Custom Ink helps you create different T-shirts, apparel & products online with the highest quality printing & customer service. Easy Ordering. Fast & Free Shipping. It helps you gain access to the beginning processes of manufacturing and gain insight into the fundamentals of design.
Various resources that can get you on the path to self sufficiency:
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-To-Basics Guide (Hardcover)
The pragmatic programmer: from Journeyman to Master
Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship
The Book of Five Rings
In conclusion, get your shit together.