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Rabbit Holes 🕳️ #49
From healing ourselves to heal the planet to the play deficit and a world gone mad
THIS WEEK → 💚 Healing Ourselves To Heal The Planet 🛼 The Play Deficit Mad World
Rabbit Holes 🕳️
As always, here are three perspective-shifting ideas to create a better world, plus some fun extras. Enjoy!
#1 💚 Healing Ourselves To Heal The Planet
As I previously explored, when we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves. Not because we depend on nature but because we are nature. asks some very interesting and important questions in the piece below: Are we losing our humaneness? Have we replaced creation with consumption? Is the way we live damaging not only to nature but also to us? And what if what’s good for us is also good for the planet?
“Have many of us, especially those of us who live in ‘wealthy’ nations, forgotten what it means to be human? Have we, instead, become primarily ‘consumers’? Our days spent consuming advertising, social media feeds, plastic-packaged and processed food, novel experiences and date nights out, travel packages and red-hot deals, streaming services and the latest games, books, electronics and endless ‘stuff’. Everything and anything that the ‘market’ can provide.
Reducing our consumption is of course important for the health of the planet, but what if one way to do this is by becoming producers, or creators, ourselves? Rediscovering what our human-energy – an abundantly available energy we seem to be using increasingly less of – can achieve, something we once innately drew upon, now buried deep within us as fossil-fuelled energy has overtaken our lives. There’s a clear link here to actions that will mitigate climate change: walking, cycling, growing our own food, and other low-tech solutions such as repairing and fostering community that encourages “social connections … rather than fostering the hyper-individualism encouraged by resource-hungry digital devices.”
Beyond the obvious climate solutions, if we become creators of art and craft, gardens, music, songs and dance, poetry and writing, relationships and connection, and any myriad of things we humans can create, we may find that we no longer need to consume what the ‘market’ is offering. We can use our human energy and ingenuity to create genuine contentment and joy, not fill a void with momentarily pleasurable, but ultimately unsatisfying, “things”.” […]
We are not supposed to live like this, and it shows. We can see it in the deterioration of mental and physical health of people in so called ‘wealthy’ nations, in the exploitation of people in the Global South, and we can see it in the planetary-wide ecological crisis we face. What if, in trying to heal ourselves, we also begin to heal the planet? Because, in a wonderful turn of events, it would seem that what is good for us, is good for the planet too.”
#2 🛼 The Play Deficit
If you liked my previous post called Pleasure Activism then you will like this one. Because it again shows, in the context of education, that we have this ingrained ideology that the world is all about suffering: Children need to learn and not just engage in play; They need to sit down and study; Basically, suffering in order to learn and get ready for the world of work. And play, therefore, is seen as the thing one does for leisure time, after “the work” is done. However, as thoroughly outlined in the article below: play is learning.
“For more than 50 years now, we in the United States have been gradually reducing children’s opportunities to play, and the same is true in many other countries. In his book Children at Play: An American History (2007), Howard Chudacoff refers to the first half of the 20th century as the ‘golden age’ of children’s free play. By about 1900, the need for child labour had declined, so children had a good deal of free time. But then, beginning around 1960 or a little before, adults began chipping away at that freedom by increasing the time that children had to spend at schoolwork and, even more significantly, by reducing children’s freedom to play on their own, even when they were out of school and not doing homework. Adult-directed sports for children began to replace ‘pickup’ games; adult-directed classes out of school began to replace hobbies; and parents’ fears led them, ever more, to forbid children from going out to play with other kids, away from home, unsupervised. There are lots of reasons for these changes but the effect, over the decades, has been a continuous and ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play and explore in their own chosen ways.
Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing. […] The decline in opportunity to play has also been accompanied by a decline in empathy and a rise in narcissism. […] A decline of empathy and a rise in narcissism are exactly what we would expect to see in children who have little opportunity to play socially. Children can’t learn these social skills and values in school, because school is an authoritarian, not a democratic setting. School fosters competition, not co-operation; and children there are not free to quit when others fail to respect their needs and wishes. […]
If we love our children and want them to thrive, we must allow them more time and opportunity to play, not less. Yet policymakers and powerful philanthropists are continuing to push us in the opposite direction — toward more schooling, more testing, more adult direction of children, and less opportunity for free play. […]
Learning versus playing. That dichotomy seems natural to people […] and maybe you. Learning, according to that almost automatic view, is what children do in school and, maybe, in other adult-directed activities. Playing is, at best, a refreshing break from learning. From that view, summer vacation is just a long recess, perhaps longer than necessary. But here’s an alternative view, which should be obvious but apparently is not: playing is learning. At play, children learn the most important of life’s lessons, the ones that cannot be taught in school. To learn these lessons well, children need lots of play — lots and lots of it, without interference from adults. […]
We think of play as childish, but to the child, play is the experience of being like an adult: being self-controlled and responsible. To the degree that we take away play, we deprive children of the ability to practise adulthood, and we create people who will go through life with a sense of dependence and victimisation, a sense that there is some authority out there who is supposed to tell them what to do and solve their problems. That is not a healthy way to live.”
#2 Mad World
We live in an unprecedented mental health crisis!….Or do we? This article reminds us of the systemic concepts and powers that mental health is tied to, in particular, capitalist metrics of productivity. Would burnout really exist in a world where workers had much more rights? In a world that moved much slower? Or one that wasn’t focused on maximizing profit above all else? Linking this to the article above: Maybe it’s not only kids who lack systems designed for play, but also adults.
“TikTok teens diagnosing themselves with autism and ADHD, rising depression rates, an ever-growing awareness of trauma and an ongoing dispute around the validity of conditions like borderline personality disorder (BPD): psychiatric diagnosis is a hot topic right now. […] But […] we often lose sight of the fact that diagnosis is a system of power, which is closely linked to capitalism and the state. […]
While the experiences and phenomena that fall under different diagnostic categories are, of course, real, the way that we choose to categorise them is often influenced by systems of power. The difference between “health” and “illness”, “order” and “disorder” is shaped by which kinds of bodies and minds are conducive to capitalism and the state. For example, the difference between “ordinary distress” and “mental illness” is often defined by its impact on your ability to work. The recent edition of the DSM, psychiatry’s comprehensive manual of “mental disorders”, mentions work almost 400 times – work is the central metric for diagnosis.
When we look across history, it becomes even more obvious that diagnosis is tied to capitalist metrics of productivity: certain categories of illness have come in and out of existence as the conditions of production have changed. […]
In the 1920s, medical and psychological researchers became interested in a pathology called “accident-proneness”, which was applied to workers who were repeatedly injured in the brutal and dangerous factory conditions of the industrial revolution. Dyslexia, a diagnosis I have been given, also didn’t emerge until the market began to shift from manual labour towards jobs that relied on reading and writing, when all children were expected to be literate. Despite having problems with reading, I understand that in a world where reading and writing weren’t so central to our daily life, there would be no need to name my dyslexia, no need to diagnose it.
As a system of state power, many of us rely on diagnosis to get the material things that we need to survive in the world. When illness or disability interferes with our ability to work, we often need a diagnosis to justify our lack of productivity – and for some, diagnosis is the necessary pathway to getting state benefits. […]
In thinking about a different way of doing diagnosis, I want to dream big, and start with a utopian mindset. Would diagnosis matter so much in a world where all people and patients had more power – one where we did not have to constantly prove ourselves to employers, to medical professionals and to the benefits system to get our fundamental needs met? A system of social organisation in which healthcare and other healing processes centred informed consent, rather than medical gatekeeping? One that valued life over bureaucracy? Could we create a world where we don’t only describe our bodies and minds against the metric of profit?”
📕 The Future of the Responsible Company: What We've Learned from Patagonia's First 50 Years by Vincent Stanley & Yvon Chouinard (new book by Patagonia! Here is also a recent interview with author Vincent Stanley about the book)
📕 Mad World: The Politics of Mental Health by Micha Frazer-Caroll
📕 Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta
🔨 Make It Circular Workshop Kit by What Design Can Do
🧐 'Where Should I Live?' by
🚿 Shower Thoughts
That’s it for this week!
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