I have just seen some amazing creative wood designed furniture for kids. These pieces are so incredible they are awesome. Whimsical chests of drawers that are split down the middle or have a star burst hole carved through the middle of them. Drawers that are tired of standing up and so are sitting down instead with legs akimbo. Kids can really relate to the expressive shapes and kooky poses that these finely crafted pieces of furniture are embodying. They definitely speak to the soul, as they are anthropomorphising furniture into friends.
Shaker furniture beautifully captured soulful energy in their simple but extremely well crafted designs. Pieces spoke of silence and contemplation in the presence of an almighty. Communal tables communicated their role in carrying the shared meals of believers. Benches and chairs, sewing tables and cupboards, all sang of simplicity and modesty. Clean lines and natural wood grain employed in well made items of utilitarian furniture.
Zen furniture design suggests space and symmetry. Things built low down to the ground and offering clean lines. Natural elements like wood and fabrics employed in simple but exquisitely beautiful pieces of furniture. Uncluttered and present in form and function these are the spiritual qualities of Zen design. Traditional Japanese forms speak of meditation and purity of purpose.
Habitat furniture can define your living space by its aesthetic nature; it can bring out positive qualities from within you. Wooden furniture has a vibrational signature attuned to its source as a previously living tree. Humans and trees have been living together for tens of thousands of years; we are interlinked at a very deep level. Furniture designed in accord with ancient cultural traditions speaks to our soul in ways that mass produced stuff cannot. We are awakened to a peace and tranquillity that is missing from our modern technologically advanced world.
Some furniture stores in Sydney, I noticed during my last visit to that wonderful city, are Meccas of soulful design. When you walk into their showrooms you are transported to another time and place. The tinkling of bells and the sound of a Shakuhachi flute whisper messages of calm to my consciousness. I sink down onto a futon and exhale, feeling my being, my isness in this very moment. Life is a communion with nature and the kind of furniture we fill our homes with affect us on so many different levels.
The ancient Greeks gave us Pegasus, the white winged horse who helped mythic heroes like Bellerophon to defeat the Chimera. The horse is a noble creature beloved of the gods and of humankind. In Norse mythology Odin, the king of the gods, rode Sleipnir an eight legged horse. This powerful beast could ride to Hel and back, carrying the wily Odin on his back. In India Uchchaihshravas is a seven headed horse that carried the Hindu king of the gods Indra.
Islamic mythology gives us Al Burq the Prophet’s horse, which carried Mohammed and the angel Gabriel from Mecca to Jerusalem and then to heaven to have a chat with Allah. Another white horse with wings, but this time with a human face. The Four Horses of the Apocalypse are the Christian harbingers of conquest, war, famine and death; all part of the last judgement in the Book of Revelation. Siddhartha, the original Buddhist, rode Kanthaka, a (you guessed it) white horse of immense stature who was, interestingly, reborn as a scholar who achieved enlightenment; who said horses were dumb animals.
Horses are, generally, depicted as graceful animals who when galloping on top of the ground, almost appear to be flying. Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes had special relationships with their horses and they employed them skilfully in battle to overcome armies. Some of the American Indian tribes were masters of the plains, who brought down buffaloes on their horses. Human and horse have been bonded for a very long time. Knights jousting atop their mounts and charging into battle. Calvary were the elite soldiers in armies, the officer class who brought their own horses with them. The mighty Cossacks riding their mounts over the steppes of Russia.
Epic nobility: the horse as tender warrior in mythology has a place fixed firmly in the heart of humanity. We do not eat horses in most western cultures, despite the fact that many in the thoroughbred business end up as pet food; this is because we psychologically cannot stomach the idea. Free horse racing bets are as close as most people get to a horse these days. Equus stands proudly in the DNA of our past and we honour him and her for the bravery of their ancestors. We are interlinked with the horse culturally, despite the fact that the motorcar replaced the beast as our main mode of transport nearly a hundred years ago. Riding horses has become the hobby of the wealthy; polo and equestrian competitions.
While the world’s industries spew out ever more toxic garbage, is there hope for humankind and our fragile planet? The only hope is if we can unite within our communities and stay strong in the face of rampant capitalism and consumerism. Corporate America and the rest of the global giants only care about profits for their shareholders and themselves. Governments are in thrall to these powerful economic influences and march to their beat, rather than listening to the silent majority. And that may just be the problem; we do not make enough noise.
Can social media formats like Facebook and Twitter become forces for positive social change? Instead of merely being more tools in the corporate arsenal for marketing stuff that we do not really need. Packaging is the single biggest problem in waste management in the twenty first century. Everything we buy comes wrapped up in toxic plastics and waste paper. Christmas time will be screaming with gifts covered in layers of packaging and this will go out into landfill, clogging up the veins of our cities with rubbish and pollution.
Eco-Dreaming: Will the tribes unite to save us with recycling? Ask yourself who is in your tribe? Is it the people in your street or the Eastern Suburbs cleaners in your neighbourhood? Can you gather together with these fellow human beings and do the right thing and recycle? You could start a Facebook Recycling in Your Suburb or District page. Put up a few posters in public places to let your community know. Connect with the local waste management and recycling companies in your area to consult about best practices. Make enquiries toward government agencies in this field and post this information up on the page. Organise a public meeting to create some momentum.
We are all people living on this planet together and when the shit hits the fan we will all go down together. How about doing something right now to avoid that fate? It will empower you and all those who join you in this quest for survival. Recycling is the single biggest environmental solution we have at our disposal. We can all do more to recycle more, educate others and make it easier for them to recycle too. Make a noise; do not go quietly into that gentle night. Fight back and make the earth a better place for our children and their children. Recycling can ease the burden on mother earth.
Morally speaking, I would answer in the affirmative; yes they should still be able to claim compensation from the exploitative colonial powers of their recent past. Legally, probably not, as independence is what it sounds like; going it alone as an independent national entity means being entirely responsible for past, present and future realities. Countries like Australia, which perpetuated colonial activity in New Guinea, tend to maintain high levels of international aid toward their former colonial territories; and this can be viewed as some sort of continuing reparation.
Imposing western values on indigenous communities out of a sense of racial and cultural superiority is now seen to be morally wrong. The fact that these actions were also only masking the real activities, like mining or agricultural exploitation for profit, is doubly reprehensible. Colonial activities by European powers through Africa and Asia, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in particular, were accompanied by military force to enforce the property rights of the colonial interests over the indigenous peoples. Almost, slave labour conditions often disenfranchised these local people from a share in the wealth being generated in their country using their natural resources. These people deserve compensation but it is highly unlikely they ever will receive it from the companies and families who exploited them.
Colonial western powers brought diseases and degenerative behaviours to many previously idyllic natural environments, which were populated by indigenous peoples. The progress of these super powers changed the world for these denizens of natural paradises. Their lives were now seen as lesser than those of the economically dominant white skinned people; they were savages, little more than animals. Christianity played its part in this cultural besmirching of ‘so called’ native peoples by informing them of their damned and godless state. Missionaries self righteously contributed to the eradication of indigenous religious beliefs and cultures; ignorantly casting many of these people into a ‘no man’s land’ between western and indigenous worlds.
The writings of Joseph Conrad began an anti-colonial awareness in literature, which became a flood of post-colonial writers from all over the globe. Writers such as VS Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Edward Said, Leopold Senghor, Chinua Achebe, Leon Damas, Bharati Mukherjee; to name just a few, have all contributed greatly to a post-colonial awareness of the injustices committed upon the indigenous peoples of so many countries by colonial bully boys. Generations of injustice are not wiped out easily and independence is, unfortunately, a two edged sword. Colonialism, also, has not completely disappeared as seen by the behaviour of China in Africa recently.