$$$ and freedom, part II

One thing you must understand before reacting too strongly on my opinions about the US and its commercial culture, is that I've lived full-time at sea since October 2010. One of the reasons to why Alex and I left for that journey, is that we wanted to detach ourselves from exactly this sort of commercial world, even though Europe and Spain that we left behind are still on average much less commercial than the US.

We wanted to see what else insights the natural world could bring us. So many knowledges have been gained, and spiritually I've transformed into what I believe is a much healthier person. I now see the negative in an even brighter light, and the good things with our world and existence are more important to me than ever before.

As the first real stop in a "real" civilization since we left Europe three years ago, is the land of opportunities, the land of commerce and the greatest driving force of industrialization - it is absolutely inevitable that I and we react in the ways that we do. In many ways, the US is the total opposite of the life that we wanted to reach when we left Europe. Now that fate brought us here, we will enjoy what we can, especially meetings with the American people that in the end aren't that much different from people from other places - it's merely the culture that is fucked up in my opinion - but we will also like always continue questioning the societies we visit.

While I mentioned that money completely seem to be running this culture, I didn't only mean in terms of the huge mansions, big four wheel driven cars and the sometimes obnoxious ostentatiousness that can be found here in this country, because I can have an understanding in that if you make a lot of money, you probably want to spend it on the things that feels right for yourself. But what I also meant was that everywhere you go, anywhere you drive, the country seem to be absolutely packed to its teeth with huge highways and no railways, one mall replaces the other within only a few miles, all the American brands squeezed right in where real estate and land allows - Mc Donald's, Dunkin' Donut, Subway, Taco Bell, Walmart and what else names are there. 

There seem to be very little left of real farms with real animals that you still find in abundance in Europe (I know I haven't seen it all here yet, speaking out of current experience). It also seems very hard to find small, genuine restaurants and shops that are created and nurtured by people who has a committed interest in delivering something with a soul. Smaller businesses are bought up by large ones, and the high taxes and regulations for self employed seem to discourage many from starting their own companies.

There simply doesn't seem to be a break from dirty commerce nowhere, and all what is left seem to be owned by very few, very wealthy folks, who I mentioned, really doesn't care about neither our health, nor the sustainability of this world. This is what makes me so sick to my stomach. I love many of the American people, as well as the beautiful, quiet little oasis in the forest where we stay. But it seems as everything outside of it is made up in the way that the citizens should spend as much money as they can on things that I think are not needed. Things that are not created with good intentions, only as a means of making the rich even richer. 

All that terribly produced food that are always within a short driving distance. Cheap china produced clothes made by slave workers from another side of the world, sold everywhere from Saks fifth Avenue to Walmart. And then the outrageously overpriced Whole Foods who yes indeed offer many great organic products, but today are one of the most successful businesses in America partly because they abuse the hype of healthy food and instead of showing goodwill and work towards making good food accessible to everyone, they jack their prices up sky high. Trader Joe's seem a better option, if one cannot get hold on all what is needed in local farms.

The emptiness I am talking about is not only found in the robot like people that work for these massive chains, but also in the whole system where nothing that is genuinely good and compassionate gets as much attention as the ones without a genuine business model. 

This soulless waste can be found in smaller doses in many parts of the world, and unfortunately the plan seem to be for politicians and multimillion dollar business owners to continue to grow all across the world with the very same pattern as here, where the vicious cycle started. Because of the immense waste that I have experienced both in this country and elsewhere, though mostly here, I myself have become even more committed to supporting brands and companies that are small, local and who still have a genuine interest in people, and not only in the filthy old dollar. Or at the very least, companies that produce with qualitative, natural ingredients/materials and cruelty-free methods.

In these last few years on water, I have learnt that I can live on almost nothing, it is actually very well possible to be happy with the bare minimums. So why would the something that I need or really want, have to be produced by dishonest means, or with cruel methods, for humans or animals alike.

I often make mistakes, and I wasn't half aware a couple months back as I am today, but each day I am working towards a better, more ethical environment in the small ways that I can make a difference. For example:

  • I strive for not eating animal products as I do not think it is fair of us humans to enslave and torture neither people nor animals, but it happens that I taste from someones dish that contains meat or dairy (though from organic farms most of those times). It also happens that I eat freshly caught local fish sometimes, my personal motive being that recently caught local fish isn't enslaved for many months as cattle, pigs, chickens, turkey's in a factory farms are. This is a personal standing point.
  • It has also happened that I've purchased a garment I needed that has leather on it, but from now on I do my very best in always choosing the pieces that doesn't. I still have some old leather jackets or other earlier purchased leather/suede shoes and bags which I obviously wont throw away as the animals already are killed and it won't help anyone if I stopped wearing it. But from now on, I make sure to limit my participation in killing innocent animals, the best I can.
  • I am from hereon committed to purchase beauty products only from organic, healthy, non toxic brands that are truthfully good for me, but it has unfortunately happened that I've bought a non organic product for my skin as at least today, the chemically produced concealers from the famous brands cover red spots much better than the ones made with organic ingredients. Within the six months that my new Shiseido product will last me, I hope at least one organic, non-animal testing brand will come up with a better covering solution so I can forever stay true to only what is good for my health. 
  • Looking at the absurd amount of waste of garments in malls and commercial stores, I've made the decision that I shall always try locating what I need in local shops or from smaller brands. I will rather spend my hard earned money on designs made by real people, and no longer buy into cheap china produced or stuff from the bigger brands and chains, unless it's from a vintage/consignment store. 
  • It does happen that I eat a meal with non organic produce, but for my health and to support local farmers, I am committed to always try to purchase organic. I rather live off only well purified tap water, homemade wholewheat bread and homegrown apples than digest the toxins and modified genes that the non-organic produce often contains. I'm not even joking, I have totally turned against food the way I had always seen it for thirty years, and there is nothing that could have me going back to purchasing into the delusion that is the commercial food supply. Give me good or don't give me anything at all.
  • As we all need money in order to survive, I have promised myself to always try working with only people and brands that I truly support ethically. I could choose to sell my photography to another multimillion dollar business that cares zero about who I am or what I really do as long as they can get away with whatever efficiently, or I could work with companies that has an honest approach and who stands for something I can relate to on a personal level. Money must be made, but thankfully I have a choice in who and what can be involved with my work. I've made some mistakes in the past of course, but for each day I am learning to make things better in order to become as selective and conscious as I want to be.
What I'm saying is that I am not a perfect human. No one is perfect, in any aspect of life, but should we stop caring altogether because we can't reach perfection? I do what I can to help spreading the word about how to take better care of ourselves and the poor old world that we live in, as well as how to support the ones who really need our support. Even if nobody is here to watch every step that I take, it is about integrity and working towards doing what is right. I can't change the ones who are not willing to make a change, but I believe in us all doing what we can to move the good and positive forward.

I believe that we constantly have to live with eyes wide open in order to not miss important information when it passes by. The world is ever evolving, and what was good yesterday, can turn out to be bad tomorrow, so it is really up to us to think for ourselves, to make a commitment - if a better world and health is important to you - and make sure to pay attention and continuously research for better options, more knowledge, real truths. I know this isn't hard at all, it's all about deciding how you wish to live your life, and then just go for it.

Read chapter one in the $$$ series here, and the side notes to the first chapter here.