Winter -10, Garden 0

Harmed by freezing temperatures, my beautiful plants didn´t make it through the night. Every leaf, every flower, every tree… lost. Foolish winter! How dare you ruin my garden? The beautiful aralia, the aromatic cinnamon, the beautiful green leaves of every plant… have now lost their color due to the freezing night.

It is the first -10 degrees (14 Farenheit) night in 32 years. The cold wind arrived like a thief and left nothing in the garden… or so we thought. I remember many winters before. All you know about them is that temperatures will decline, and you will need to get yourself warm clothing and prepare for the absence of rain, with probable snow in the mountains. All the same, in summer you know that temperatures will rise, you will need to look out for the garden as it can get drawn in so much rain, and of course you need to take care of yourself by drinking a lot of water.

Very interestingly, in the many winters I have witnessed I had never seen my plants harmed so much by low temperatures. These last five days I didn´t want to take action in my plants, but today I cut all the dead leaves. I wish I had a camera to show you (a disaster of great proportion), but I dropped it in water last summer and did not get a new one yet. I was amazed to find out that the external leaves had frozen… but the inside is not harmed. This is because the plants were healthy, beautiful and full of leaves. My tomato and lettuce did not make it (they are weaker), but the little onions are… OK!

My garden taught me a lesson. If you take care of it when the time is right, it will not perish. Just like your family. If you feed your family well, if you give your family your tender love and care, their leaves will be strong enough not to perish in the many cold winters that come ahead. Caring… has turned out to be the best medicine for a frozen garden.

Caring, then, will do the same with your beautiful garden… and family. Summers, winters and the rest will hit you, but will not destroy if you have cared for yourself enough in the right time. Get ready, go for it. Start caressing, start winning all the battles against the unknown. What are the odds that a thief will rob the green of your garden? I don´t know. You don´t know either. But being well taken care of, being strong, well fed, big enough, full of character, will certainly make you not only ready to survive, but most likely to be successful in everything you do. What a wonderful drug, this “caressing treatment” turned out to be!

Poverty Versus Violence

The little girl grew up in the harsh high plateau of Bolivia, within mountains and cold winds year round.  Her mom died when she was eight, but neither before or after her death did she receive a tender, caressing touch of a loving familiar hand. She is now over thirty and the mother of a five year old boy, who she treats exactly the same way she was always treated.


When the boy was one year old, he had already been in the emergency room many times, especially for colds and diarrhea, and many times for falling, cutting himself, and swallowing objects. The bare truth is that the boy lived on the floor, and she didn´t care to teach him an hour to sleep, an hour to eat, or an hour to play. So, he ended up eating, sleeping and playing on the floor.


When he was two he was forced to shower himself. He had to learn the tough way that the water could be too hot or too cold, and his mom would leave him home alone… with the cell phone next to him, so that he could call her when awake. At three he was responsible for his own food. He learned how to make his own milk, and was forced to ask for food to the neighbors because there was none at home.


The boy is brilliant, though. In spite of the way his mother treats him (his father has no say in this, as she beats the man if he complains), he realizes that he must be educated. When someone offers to teach him something, he goes for it and learns quickly. He goes to pre-k and he is very clever. He is even learning how to read before everyone else.


This mother doesn´t realize she is being violent.  All the spanking, all the shouting, don´t impress her as being violent. Why? One wonders. But if you think about it, even though she is having people around who tell her what to do and how to do it, the harsh truth is that she won´t learn fast. It will take her time to realize that she really needs to review her ways.  This is because she has known no caring ways throughout her life. She has no model to follow. She does not think this behavior is violent. She thinks it is the right way to go with her son and her husband. She believes that if her husband, who only studied high school, cannot earn enough then she has the right to put him down.


The boy is now old enough to understand many things and he makes his father buy him Barney videos. His grandmother sends some books, and his great grandmother usually gives him food, that he eats quickly all by himself. His grandma told him he should not be on the floors sleeping and playing, so now he tries to stand up and run around without falling asleep on the floor.


What is wrong with this mother? I asked myself many times. Only this time I got to answer my question: She is ill. Ill with the illness of poverty, and violent with the violence of poverty. She has been struck by the reality of a life that is very, very hard to live. I don´t blame her for being violent, and I know she will learn little by little. Maybe her son will end up teaching her. 


She acts instinctively, and even though she now holds a university degree, her attitude towards how to raise a kid, or how to lead her life, has not changed yet. This shows that formal education plays a part in making us more capable, but there must be another kind of education that we are not addressing, which is responsible for changing our set of behavioral patterns. 


The definitions of poverty in many books may include the lack of money, the lack of other resources and many other components, but they don´t include violence.  This is because we tend to see violence as a result of poverty, but not as a component of poverty in itself. The case I just presented makes it clear that we need to change this way of thinking. We need to include violence as a component of poverty and we must include this wider view in non formal education.


What I can see as the most accessible way to non formal education for young women is television. Remember that humans are copycats. We tend to copy what we see in our environment and TV, radio, and all media are in our environment.  Soap operas and music that talk about how cool it is to rape, to shout, to take revenge, and to be violent in general, are teaching our girls and boys that being violent is alright.


These three paths are very important if we will end violence in the world:  1. To change the definition of poverty to include violence as one of its components, and not as a result of it; 2. To change our vision of the popular media, by not accepting songs and shows that make violent attitudes look like acceptable; and 3. To accept that poverty is a psychological illness that needs to be treated by professional behavior consultants not only individually, but  locally and globally.


Poverty and its violence make people ill, and this illness needs to be addressed by the whole world, as it creates monsters that don´t caress their children. These children later on are incapable of telling right from wrong, and don´t realize they are being violent. Let us not, in the name of modernity, become evil.

The Morality of Profit and the Survival of the Global Ecosystem (Excerpt)

In concurrence with dictionary definitions, the morality of profit can be understood as “making profit in accord with good or right conduct, through virtuous actions and following the rules of generally accepted business previsions”. The actions of business men and women looking for profit, would then be understood as morally acceptable when they fall into the range of the good or right conduct through virtuous actions.  But is this really enough? No. It is an obsolete and simplistic way of looking at the morality of profit.

The morality of profit is in high need of retrieving itself from its obvious obsolescence. Twenty years ago, my colleagues in Business and Economics had only one stream to define profit with, and that was the industrial stream, reflected in the generally accepted accounting principles. Today, defining profit only through the eyes of industrialism, capitalism or socialism is not enough anymore. This obsolete definition is lopsided, ambiguous and short termed.

It is lopsided because it does not redeem the equality of importance of all resources. In the new theory of the Ecology of Societies, all resources (living organisms, non living organisms, human, non human, biotic, abiotic, financial, economic, or any other) are considered to be equally important. The anthropocentric point of view of economic, business and ecological disciplines is, from our point of view, obsolete, to say the least.

It is ambiguous because it does not include the cost of every unit of good produced in terms of being biodegradable or not, which also makes it short termed, as it will not help the global ecosystem survive the climate change in the long run. Let us then, redefine the term profit in a more inclusive manner, from the point of view of equality of all resources, and from the inclusion of the ecological needs of our planet.

(Please stay tuned for the publication of the whole article in the next few days.)

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