Blog 2.0

With the resources we all possess, Google, information, unlimited in its availability where is our cultural evolution taking us? Awareness, consciousness, Mindfulness are all words that come up time and time again by the pioneers of the cultural evolution of which we are (consciously or not) now apart.

The free movement of information is the cyclone at the centre of this development as long as the interconnectivity of the planet increases, globalisation, travel, accessibility by-products of this shift will only serve to make it more obvious.

Our pioneers stretch out now in a global network of digital faces and personalities. Joe Rogan and a small community of comedians in Los Angeles all produce podcasts which are literally forming a cohesive tapestry of our development, charting, analysing and exposing ideas which our societies have and are clinging to in the face of an ever more enlightened present. Themes such as political structures, spirituality and religion, evolution and the role of psychedelics, consciousness, human optimisation and even historical narratives and conventional social constructs are regularly brought up and questioned from a myriad of perspectives and people.

The quicker we all realise that we’ve been taught how to live life by people that were operating on the momentum of an ignorant past the quicker we can move to a global ethic of a community that doesn’t value invented borders or the monopolization of natural resources but rather the goal of a happier more loving humanity.” Joe Rogan

This relatively new form of media which has been broadcasting only in the last decade is itself a product of our technological progress, dismantling the thirty minute to an hour segments of traditional programming and replacing them with up to three hour conversations. Where guests and subjects are given time to explain abstract ideas or chart their visions and life works, connecting listener and guest in a platform which can expose influences which would never traditionally have been given air time by corporate media, beholden to advertisers and investors.

This one podcast example regularly out performs mainstream T.V shows and has received up to 9million downloads in one month from a broad spectrum of society both in America and internationally. The fact that Chris Ryan, author of Sex At Dawn New York Times bestseller, appeared on both Joe Rogan and Duncan Trussels’ podcast and went on to form his own podcast Tangentially Speaking shortly after only serves to reassert how powerful this platform is. But beyond the platform what guests and hosts say varies greatly, themes appear though when subjects such as political establishments, the future and what aspects of our culture are outdated are brought up.

“Our cultures domesticate us for obscure purposes, nurturing and encouraging certain aspects of our behaviour and tendencies while seeking to eliminate those that might be disruptive.” Chris Ryan

The Podcast community surrounding Rogan; Ari Shaffir, Duncan Trussell, Chris Ryan, Danielli Bolleli are at the brink of the worlds cultural and ideological change, while at the same time other examples of these themes appear in similar formats in other countries. Russell Brands’ The Trews berates mainstream media outlets for similar reasons to the LA podcast circuit and uses ten minute YouTube videos to cross examine news stories and other current events through a perspective of modern day compassion flavoured with eastern philosophy; Regularly exposing the propagandist elements of tabloids and the ignorance encouraged by media bandying sensationalist language around.

However it is not just alternative comedians who have been given a platform which isn’t tied to corporate sponsors’ through our technological interconnectivity. Ex CNN journalist Amber Lyon after experiencing the self censorship of media first hand resigned and has appeared on multiple podcasts since as witness to the humanitarian crises in Bahrain, Amber has launched her own website since her departure from CNN calling for the legalisation of drugs with medicinal properties including Ayowaska and charting her use and journey with the corporate media and the institutional attitude towards psychedelic drug use.

Another journalist Abbey Martin has seen significant success through internet broadcasting of her show Breaking the Set where she explores recent news stories without the limiting influence of national corporate backing, since the show airs on Russia Today Abby has editorial freedom other journalists simply cannot have when they are under threat by the advertiser’s investment being withdrawn over controversial stories.

The way that news and media is branded, packaged and filtered to the public is changing as a practically unlimited number of alternative news providers are now available, censorship is becoming harder and the prioritisation of particular viewpoints is becoming more transparent. And without a traditional narrative of separation being pushed, and as we are ever closer ideologically and digitally to our neighbours around the world, humanitarian crises and conflicts are harder to shy away from.

Nongovernmental organisations are gaining traction as social media propounds a way to make a change from a behind a keyboard and a screen. Avaaz is one of these international NGO’s which refuse donations from foundations or corporations and actually limit donations to $5000 depending solely on the generosity of the individual. Avaaz champions social action and is representative of the cultural shift which is happening, bypassing the age old key holders of information, the institutions, the stakeholders, the profiteers, the politicians, the corporations and heading straight for the individual recognising our basic need for togetherness global consciousness.

“Since 2007 Avaaz has launched hundreds of global and national campaigns. Relying on its fast-expanding international community of members Avaaz has worked to fight corruption in India, Italy and Brazil, protect the world’s oceans, rainforests and endangered wildlife, defend internet and media freedoms, and foster the democratic spirit at the heart of the Arab spring uprisings.” Wiki 2014

Even politically, activists such as Julian Assange with Wikileaks and Edward Snowden with revelations about the NSA and GCHQ have changed the way our society thinks about information and surveillance. They have proposed a question of how much power do we want our governments and media to have?  And by default they have asked if with our new technology we are not capable of governing ourselves, becoming our own peacekeepers and restarting the cultural shaming which would have happened when our domestic tribes and societies numbered in the hundreds instead of the tens of millions. Digital tribes in a social change that echoes the Beat generation and Hippi subculture of the 60’s from the false start of consciousness raising practices, the attempt of an alternative press and communalism, an exploration of eastern mysticism to alternative states of consciousness…Where are the limits of where we are heading?

“Fuck this shit universe filled with festering blackness, and swarming with shallow, single-mided humans focused on crystallizing aspects of the material universe and putting it into their bank accounts, transmuting real experience into imaginary numbers, which then they ascribe to how good they’re doing, like some evil satanic score.” Duncan Trussell

“If you have inside of you the sweetness that comes from an understanding of how incredible where we’re going is, your head could be made of cat turds, and you would still be a million times more appealing than someone who is attractive but inside is filled with psychic cat turds.” Duncan Trussell

duncanjre chris ryan

Podcast #10 Alex Kosieniak-Madejski

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Alex Kosieniak-Madejski a brand new guest discusses Cuba, Colombia and the socialist states on Mayabrain#10

http://mayabrain.com/home/podcast.html

Get your fix as we take an opinionated look at Chris and Alex’s trip to Cuba with new music from Calle13 feat Julian Assange

Stay Wired

The Future

We are in ‘the future’

The last few years, or maybe since the advent of high speed internet, it seems like we have been waiting to see how this thing that we’ve become will develop. How it will change our lives.

By the time I finished drinking a cup of coffee the other week I was convinced that we are already there.

A camera on a phone can display the micro weaves in the fabric that makes a sock, sky scrapping condos outside play host to balcony gardens…tiny eco systems that become a pretty reminder of where we came from.

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I saw an article that showed Google had designed a contact lens which could monitor glucose levels. Human optimization has been a reoccurring theme over past years, fad diets and a multiple fresh opinions on what the body should look like and what it should be able to do…

The ancient Greek philosophers had some great points, exercise your mind and body in equal measure and excess in all things Is the undoing of man.

Humanity’s technological ability is literally awe inspiring, the majority of us don’t understand the nuances of the technology or how it really works, but we know it’s there now; a part of us.

So with better medical technology and life ‘enhancing’ research how long until we have devices which monitor our state and help us to optimize it?

How long till you can get a text message telling you your vitamin C levels are low, or you are at risk of dehydration?

How long till we can have our phones tell us the optimum vitamin and mineral combination for sleep, and help us to regulate our lives to operate at the best our biology will allow?

Instead of higher resolution televisions how long until we get hold of something that will help us to become better.

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Isolation tanks to help with reflection and meditation are already readily accessible in parts of the United States.

Research into our evolutionary history has shown our genetics are accustomed to a diet of the hunter gatherer, one that humans upheld for 80,000 years opposed to our agricultural diet of the last 10,000…

Ours is a super processed world of high salt and sugar…of foods that don’t rot and drinks that you couldn’t possibly make with naturally found substances.

How many of us eat enough fresh foods and give our brains the opportunity to run off fuel which is designed to give you the best performance day after day.

We are in the future, and yet we are a stubborn arrogant race, determined to believe in our own supremacy, small worlds of ego satisfaction and gluttony.

We don’t need those technologies I mentioned earlier because we have it already, a biological, and organic watch keeper…a body with a brain.

Except we have become so far separated from our own nature, that we cannot read the messages. We likely to pay less attention to the fact we are covered in fat than a text message being received saying ‘Your body is fat.’

Obesity which is well known as a burgeoning ‘epidemic’ is just one example where our hubris refuses to recognize the supremacy of our natural ancestry. Instead of facing up to the truths of our innate selves we sit around waiting for technology to tell us what we already know.

This is true of our physical as well as psychological health.  It’s true of the very way in which we live day to day…

The very reason most of us work eight hours a day  -our best eight hours – is because in the late 18th century the industrial revolution needed an optimal system for factory output. We have maintained that system without question… If you really think about it, and I mean without just throwing this whole blog out as ramblings, but really think about why you work five days a week and get two off?

Why not three and three? Or some other configuration

If you love your job then you might not even consider this a ‘problem.’ However most people don’t love the work they spend most of their lives doing. Some people might say ‘well people want to work’, they would love the opportunity to work 8 hours a week on a western democracies minimum wage, agreed.

There are an even greater proportion of us that wouldn’t know what to do if we had more time. Because most of us haven’t taken or grasped the opportunity to explore themselves, who they are and what they want.

There is, there must be a balance that we can achieve, where we are thrown around by the tides of social constructs. Where we can liberate ourselves from ego and question the lives we are living without feeling threatened.

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.” Winston Churchill

What if this ‘figurative tapping’ is for all of us, not just an individual with a personal goal?

The world is changing whether we are prepared for it or not. And I have no doubt that in centuries to come if we haven’t succumbed to more devastating war, our descendants will find a better, fairer, more humane way to balance the world. They will look back and study our society as something of an anomaly which was the result of an unprecedented two hundred year ‘technological progression’… and students will ask their tutors, with all those resources intellectual and physical why didn’t they change things.

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http://blog.bufferapp.com/optimal-work-time-how-long-should-we-work-every-day-the-science-of-mental-strength

Stay Wired

MB

Cuba – socialist paradise or communist dystopia?

So, shortly after New Year 2014,  I found myself on a plane headed for Cuba, along with my travel buddy Alex, a fellow Brit working in Colombia. Cuba had always been a place that I’ve been curious about, simply because of the fact that it is a country that has been on pause since the ‘glorious’ 1959 revolution. I’d heard many different opinions on the country, ranging from ‘incredible’ to ‘complete shithole’ and thus I was keen to find out for myself what it was like.

   Quick history lesson for those of you readers who don’t know too much about Cuba’s history. The Cuban Revolution took place between December 2, 1956, and January 2, 1959.  It became an armed civil war in which the guerrilla forces under Fidel and Raul Castro, fought against the government army to topple the government of Fulgencio Batista, a dictator who had got into power through a military coup in 1952. With its iconic figure of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the Cuban revolution has been glamourized all over the world, mainly by socialists, lefties and hipsters with their printed ‘Che’ t-shirts and satchels. I was pretty sure they were idiots before, but actually going to Cuba and seeing it first-hand simply confirmed that theory. There is nothing glamorous or idealistic about living under a Communist regime.

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    Like I said, I was expecting a completely different experience, something as far removed from Colombia as possible, and I wasn’t disappointed. When you step off that plane into La Habana airport you feel like you’ve just travelled 60 years back in time. The airport itself is old and musty. The first thing that I noticed was that it smelt vaguely like an old-school Barber shop back in the UK. I still haven’t figured out why. There were no fancy billboards and flashing advertisments like in the modern Panama City airport we’d been in few hours earlier that day. Instead you get 1950’s décor and a smoking room in the boarding lounge.
  As we passed through immigrations, unsure what to expect from the officials, it went surprisingly smoothly. I took the opportunity to ask the official about the laws concerning travellers with Cuban stamps in their passport and the United States.  She confirmed what I’d been told by other people, but had been very sceptical of – even British citizens cannot enter the United States if they have a Cuban stamp in their passport. 
    Now this is almost as ridiculous as the law against Cuban Cigars in the USA.  What right does the US government have to prevent citizens of other countries from having a Cuban stamp in their passport? The Cuban cigars issue is a massive inconvenience – we both bought boxes of Cuban Montecristo No.4 cigars. Alex may be okay, but my return flight to the UK in June has a stop in New York.  I checked the US law regarding foreign nationals with Cuban cigars in transit through the USA – I wasn’t surprised to find:

‘No. According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, foreign nationals may not transit the U.S. with goods of Cuban origin. Penalties include forfeiture of the cigars and possible fines.’[1]

US Customs and Border Protection
Securing America’s Borders

Securing America’s Borders? Yeah? Fuck off.

   Yes I’m bitter about not being able to take my cigars home with me. C’mon guys, the Cuban Missile Crisis happened over half a century ago, chill the fuck out, no-one cares anymore.

   So anyway, because America has retarded laws that prevent not only its own citizens from visiting Cuba, but also cause problems for citizens of other countries, all foreigners in Cuba are given a tiny slip of paper with the entry stamp on instead of on a page of their passports. We were told that if we lost the piece of paper, we would be stuck in Cuba unable to leave. I made extra sure to look after that piece of paper, and yet we nearly got stranded in Cuba anyway. But more on that later…

 

   We made it out the airport to be greeted by a friendly Cuban called Ivan – our taxi driver. He led us across the car park to his taxi – a Russian made car from 1952.  This is by no means unusual in Cuba, his car was surrounded by many other cars of similar age.

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   Until recently, it was impossible to import and sell new cars on the island. In the past month or so, Raul Castro has allowed a law-change permitting Cubans to buy cars made after 1959, but this won’t make much difference. They are selling far out of the price range of all but the richest, and thus most corrupt Cubans. For example – a new Kia Rio hatchback that starts at $13,600 in the United States is now selling for $42,000 in Cuba. A new Peugeot 508 family car, which costs approximately the equivalent of $53,000 back in the UK will cost Cubans around $262,000. The average wage in Cuba is $13-$20US per MONTH. See the problem?

That’s barely enough to live on using the national money, but if Cubans want to eat in nice restaurants, go to bars or clubs, or travel, they need Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) which are worth roughly 1.3 to the Euro. One CUC is worth 24 national pesos. Only rich government officials and diplomats will be able to afford new cars – the rest of the population struggle to buy new clothes, let alone brand new cars.

 Oh wait, you say you thought this was a communist society where everyone was equal? Not quite. Everyone is equally poor, apart from the people running the place. Great system, right? As a ‘motivating’ poster with Che Guevara on the wall of the currency exchange office proclaimed: ‘Sin control, no hay socialisimo’. There can be no socialism without control.

However, on the flipside, the government does provide certain necessities. It’s a complicated system but the basics are as follows:

 

1. A basic rationing system that provides every single citizen with enough food to survive on

2. Heavily subsidized basic living expenses such as cheap to almost free: Housing, electricity, water.

3. Free health care and free education.

This has one fascinating side-effect that took both me and Alex by surprise. Cuba is remarkably safe. As both of us live in Colombia, we have several ‘facts’ ingrained into our psyches that proved difficult to shake off;

– Dark streets are dangerous

-  Large groups of people are probably dangerous

- Small groups of people are probably dangerous

- Lone people walking around at night are probably dangerous

– … but a street that ‘looks’ empty is worse.

- Don’t walk around drunk.

- Dark streets are dangerous.

- Unlike the UK and Europe, parks are not nice places. They are dangerous. You avoid walking past parks at night, and NEVER walk through them.

- Asking strangers for directions at night. Just don’t do it.

- If in doubt, take a taxi. Don’t get into unlicensed taxis.

- Did I mention that dark streets are dangerous?

 

    Yet in Cuba, NONE of those rules apply. The electricity grid in the city is clearly badly maintained and there are little to no street lights. EVERY street is dark. Rubbish lies uncollected in the street, the pavement is broken and full of holes, and after 9pm, there are nearly zero cars driving around. The city becomes a ghost town.  The entire city of La Habana at night looked like those streets and barrios in Colombia that you just DON’T go to at night, period. For the first few nights we were overly cautious and paranoid, constantly sceptical of the ‘Cuba is so safe’ that we’d been hearing from everyone. But they were right.

    We walked blocks and blocks through the city, often getting lost. This is at night too, walking around with beers in hand, talking loudly in English and being unmistakable foreigners. One of the things I always avoided doing with my Brazilian friend Thais was talking in English when we were walking back from bars in Manizales. We simply switched to Spanish, or didn’t talk at all. Had we walked around like that in many places in Colombia, especially Medellin or Bogota, we wouldn’t even have had time to finish the beers before someone jumped us.

    It was a very nice change. Both of us enjoyed being able to relax and not be constantly watching our backs at night. The thing we couldn’t figure out though, was exactly why it’s so damn safe there. Since being back in Colombia, I’ve been doing some research into Cuban politics and the exact nature of the government in the country, something that I neglected to do before the trip. Whilst I’m sure there are many other factors involved, it would seem that the biggest reason for the safety is simply that there are no homeless people and street kids. The government provides homeless shelters and state institutions that take care of people without homes, but even that’s only a last resort. Most people live with their families and never have to resort to living on the streets.

   However, compared to Colombia, the difference is dramatic. The vast majority of the criminals and robbers in cities in Colombia are homeless people and gangs of kids who’ve spent their entire lives living on the streets. After years of living on the streets, they often end up getting into drugs ranging from sniffing glue to taking basuco, a cheaper, but highly contaminated and dangerous form of cocaine that does not meet quality standards for exportation, so is used on the streets in Colombia. All of this further spurs them onto committing more crimes.  Colombia has no such socialist welfare system for those in need –people without jobs, homes or families to care for them are just discarded, ignored and kicked into the gutter to fend for themselves.

    In fact, I can give you guys a true example of just how messed up the situation regarding homeless people is here in Colombia. I was told this by a friend, but then checked and got it confirmed afterwards. In Manizales, we’ve just had Ferias, which are an annual festival in which thousands of people come to visit the city and it becomes absolute chaos.

    Of course, having lots of homeless people on the streets, even if they’re not thieves, makes the city look bad, and the mayor doesn’t want that. So what do they do? Every year before big events such as Las Ferias, the police go around the city in trucks and literally round up the homeless people they can find, put them in the back of these lorries, then drive to Pereira (another city about 40minutes away) and simply dump all of these homeless people in the other city. Besides from being somewhat inhumane, it’s also completely pointless, because the police in Pereira do exactly the same thing in reverse, and dump their undesirables here in Manizales. 

So, I’ll be finishing up discussing Cuba in part 2 of this article, where I’ll talk about the main side effect of the low wages and lack of opportunities in Cuba – rampant prostitution and taxi drivers with law degrees. I’ll also explain how Alex and I very nearly ended up trapped there, being told at the airport that we would lose our flights and couldn’t leave the country…

Stay wired

MayaBrain

2014

During the 2012 Olympics there was a large amount of commentary that this event has helped ‘define’ the ‘status’ of a post-modern Britain.

How it was a symbol of where ‘we’ are in the world. What ‘we’ stand for.

This is and was a benign fallacy.

At this point in time there is more information in the world than there ever has been before, there are more humans in the world than there ever has been before.

In the last century the fastest method of transport has evolved at an exponential rate. Before these last hundred years the fastest method of transport was the same as it was since the evolution of homo-erectus…the horse. This is the Chinese year of the horse.

pics 2014 1  In the last twelve months we have seen the most social uprisings to give 2013 the title of Year of the revolution. Independent journalism and social media coverage of these revolutions have allowed more people to understand these events in more detail than corporate media would have historically allowed.

Globalization and the ability to connect with people at any time through a variety of communication methods, to people at any time-zone, in any country connected to the internet, has, in many people’s opinions raised ‘global consciousness.’ People are less satisfied with the traditional political rhetoric  that has been so successful in the past centuries… people are moving past the point of soma and are asking why when we know more in this time than at any other there is such a high level of  social and ecological suffering.

The idea that ‘global consciousness’ is recognizing the fallibility of the status quo goes hand in hand with the renewed questioning of consumerist society. Whether we have become so enamored with withdrawing money from a broken system that we have forgotten how to reflect is a hotly debated question.

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At the same time that there is more information and knowledge in society than ever before people are working longer and harder. Where is the time to process what we have learned? Where is the time to reflect on the possibilities of human consciousness?

At the same time as this, fast speed internet culture is the biggest threat to tribalisation. The idea that we belong to one tribe, in which we pertain to a set of culturally inherent ideas is a myth. Thousands of years ago meditation on the human condition revealed that there is no ‘self’ this is now ratified by modern science, on a cellular level our body is constantly dying and regrowing, after five to ten years we are biologically a different person to the human given the same name a decade before.

This threat to tribalisation has been recognized, we can see this in the forms of surveillance which everyday are clawing their way to a position of dominance to protect the status quo. Pro-money.  Anti-change.  Anti-reflection.

Though we are at our most ‘intelligent’ state in history we are also a part of a society which routinely performs acts of war to gain political and financial profit. In this sense we are the same as we always have been since the dawn of the agriculture.

The only identity that a ‘nation’ needs is one that rejects of abstract ideas of identity.

We should not be afraid of our future or to make changes to the way in which we live our lives. We should not be afraid to question traditions. We should not be afraid to question the institutions which have flourished or been prevalent in the past because right now we have a society where our social fabric is new, is fresh and not the same in any way to the societies before.

The assumption that people in positions of power have a better ability to make moral decisions for our new social reality than an average mother, or a factory worker, or a community worker has been shown to be false in the corruption and shadowy relationship government has with the military industrial complexes and  financial systems. Most people in positions of power have spent their entire careers clawing and frothing over that seat of power. There is something dark in that realization.

The predator is the one that everybody should be against. Everybody has got assholes in their group, just be anti-asshole and it will all be ok.  ROSEANNE BARR

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 http://rt.com/news/underreported-news-stories-2013-836/

 

The Tools of Violence

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Recently I crossed a local border into Cambodia. A one and a half hour plane journey landed me in Siam Reap the northern city of the kingdom of Cambodia.

What I intended to be a basic tourist pit stop to see the largest religious building in the world became a powerful re-education. Like most of the best journeys we will make as human beings it is peppered with strong and intense memories and a feeling like you have barely scratched the surface of an alternative society and culture.

What I was completely unaware of, was the genocide that took place just over thirty years ago. So thoroughly used to the western education of WWII I admit I was shocked by my own naivety that I hadn’t considered that genocides could have taken place since the Nazi party was in power, and hadn’t really considered that it’s not just historic social nationalism that has been used as a pretense for mass murder.

So focused is the western education system on dealing with Nazism and the world wars, that it seems to exclude modern examples of which perhaps don’t paint the west as the savior of civilized society

“They have had 16 years of support from outside the country. The United Nations continued to recognize the KR as the government of Cambodia right through the ’80s, and nearly all its “humanitarian assistance” went to refugees in Thailand — who were largely under the control of the Khmer Rouge.”

https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/9415

“not to mention the United States bombing of Cambodia that occurred from 1970-1973 which estimates suggest killed an additional 250,000”

http://nickskitchen.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/first-they-killed-my-father/

Within two hours of landing in the country I had drank a beer with the driver who took me from the airport to the city and was shooting  AK47 and M16 machine guns at a military base half an hour outside the city.

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This was the first day; I hadn’t been to the genocide museum or the killing fields yet and hadn’t heard about the country’s dark past. I was just a smiling tourist getting a kick out of shooting some rounds off.

What I didn’t think about until the last day was who had held that gun before me, what it had been used for. And although you could argue nothing, you can’t possibly know. The smell of the gunpowder, the powerful kick back and the sheer noise now mingles with the voice of a commentator at the killing fields talking about the process of genocide and military control.

Although the trip was by no means marred by the revelation of this tragic past, I couldn’t help but ponder the statistic that nearly one quarter of the population had been killed by this regime. If you consider what that means…

Stalin so famously said that “one man’s death is a tragedy one million is just a statistic”.

Well this was millions and although Stalin was alluding to the idea that you cannot possibly visualize that amount of death or become desensitized to it at a certain point. If you consider that these millions make the likelihood that your family or friends were killed almost certain this nullifies his sentiment and simply amplifies the tragedy.

Jim, who took me shooting also invited me to stay with his family that night, we were of a similar age and we got on really well. He taught me allot about Cambodia and the history, He became my unofficial guide for much of the rest of my time.  Apart from teaching me the dangers of rice whisky, how to fish, pigeon Cambodian communication and how to shoot he became also a good friend, but those stories I will hold onto for other blogs.

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On the topic of weapons of violence, the recent protests in Thailand have made it into international news, seeing overzealous reporters appear safely on western media with body armor and combat helmets.

At the site of the siege of government house I walked out at eight o’clock at night to see the aftermath of the day’s events. Walking towards the site got quieter and quieter and I passed roadblock after roadblock which had been forcibly removed so that the protesters could access the cordoned area.

The air seemed thicker as I approached the main mass of the crowd; an unofficial curfew had been broadcast suggesting that people leave the streets by ten that night.

There were huge speakers broadcasting what sounded like a speech on a loop calling people to stand up against the government,  yet the message was clear; ‘we are running out of time’.

I was there one minute before I felt my eyes stinging and my throat begin to itch and my nose had a strange burning sensation.  Tear Gas.

The police were firing tear gas every fifteen minutes from behind the barricade and it was thick in the air. The protesters had dragged huge buckets of water at various points in the road for people to dunk their faces into if it got too much. Most now wore face masks or plastic bags which covered their heads completely except for a tiny air hole. And this was after the main day’s events.

The nature of political violence is real. It is memorable and terrifying. I even feel some strange cocktail of emotions posting a picture with that gun, and admitting that I went to an active protest site where I had no real political affiliation, an honest sense of embarrassment. But to look with the eyes is sometimes the clearest way.

Even when those eyes are stinging and trying to close.

 

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