Gent, East-Flanders, Belgium
Last login 10 months ago
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to feel life in every breath and to live life recongizing that we only have one, treating othes the way i want to be treated myself
first of all, i am extremely critical, frustrated and dissapointed in cs going corporate, they way it was 'handled', presented and the changes coming in one wave after the other.
on me as a person, i am normally otherwise open, easygoing, face to face person not phones/ chats etc, adaptable, adventerous, talkative, serious,take interest, will most likely talk politics and history whether you want it or not, have my opinions but dont discuss to "win" mainly to exchange ideas although i do feel strongly about many things, at the same time i try to be respectful, sometimes tendency to across as holy i guess... and yes, not a handyman, you can see from my apartment ahahaha. i sound like a nice guy, which i must say that i think i am, but i do, as every other human being, have a dark side; the beast. my beast feeds on ignorance, intolerance and indifference. i used to have these not so charming traits in my own behaviour as well as way of living and consuming, but learning the price they had for others im trying to improve everyday, every chance i get, bit by bit. i am no judge of other people, but in every dimension of life, society etc treat others the way you want to be treated yourself. its as simple as that.
dont eat ÃÂ´shitÃÂ´ with a spoon, but think for yourself and ask questions. challenge yourself and what you are told. which knowledge conventions do you prescribe to? dont put your life on autopilot, its too easy, but instead live life in every breath - be - and treat others the way you want be treated yourself.
Ability is what you're capable of doing...
Motivation determines what you do...
Attitude determines how well you do it.Ã¢â¬Â
pick your battles, if you dont it will become easy to go mad and loose yourself...
A friendly couple that hosted me in bloemfontein in sa through hospitality club gave me this one: "travelling is like learning from reading a book, when you leave your house you open the first page"
yes, for now i managed to host only a few people , surfing myself in santiago, russia, spain, germany, pland, south africa and mbabane(swaziland), loads of dinners with the cs community in aalborg and this is the beginnning, as about 200 nations are recognized by the UN... however there 2800 more nations, so get busy!! but through bewelcome
over the last few months especially, couchsurfing or rather the people that i have met through it, have radically changed my perception of the importance of having dreams, being independent and not conforming as this is the easy way out. thanks for everything everybody. you have left some of yourselves with me, i hope i did vice versa. as a wise chilean tattoo artist and philosopher said: la peor diligencia es la que no se hace. for those who do not speak enough spanish: not directly translated but the meaning of it to me: its better to regret doing it than regretting not doing it. this will be the lesson of your life when you are old and about to wither away looking back at your life, your achievements and those you leave behind. make the most of every moment; it only comes once!
thinking, loving, caring, learning, giving, getting, sharing, travelling, experiencing, teaching, listening, talking, knowing, etc and long distance running to some extent also to clear my head
any music really, movies most, but books only serious stuff. particularly hannah arendts "on totalitarianism" tzvetan todorovs "hope and memory". im not mature enough for the poetry etc just yet, just like coffee isnt on my nice to drink list
find me and we'll talk, want it to be two-ways, what have you done? ok haha, one thing. seeing my dog eating maki rolls (sushi) whilst at the same time attempting to spit out the soya sauce haha. it was hilarous beyond my ability to tell the story. actually another 5 minutes after this, having my mum give me a mouse pad for my touchpad on my laptop was also a small wonder in itself... needless to say she didnt appreciate the marvellous fun in it haha. for amazing in a serious sense; starting and continuing the process of recovering and demilitarising my brain after my time in the army.
as cs has become c$ it might be worth the while to ponder a little on how it is that couchsurfers can still help make a difference?
The push for a more open and inclusive approach to politics within Europe has a long history since 1648 with the establishment of the non-interference principle in other nations’ internal affairs:
• Within in the kingdoms (ie the French Revolution in 1789),
• then national politics (ie the farmers movement in Denmark from 1830s and onwards)
• and since international politics (the populations of Western Europe, the US and the top communist party leaders in Eastern Europe from the Cuba crisis in 1962 and onwards with the Vietnam war etc.)
The rest of the world has fallen out of the narrative we learn history through. It has been the construction of the Euro-American history starting in Greece ending with the “democratic” nation states of today that we have been told. But what happened to the people in India, China, of all the people of Africa, South East Asia and South America and so on? And what happened to the earth? More people live on the planet than just whites and how can we exclude these and the very planet from our own history since we are all dependant on it the food, air, water etc. that it provides? What about the inclusion of people in politics in other parts of the world and internationally? 200 nations are recognized by the international political system but in reality more than 3000 cultural polities exist… This lack of inclusion and fairness is not only the case in the realm of history.
According to the Australian and post colonial minded academic Philip Darby, international politics and also academia are deeply influenced and corrupted by western knowledge conventions that unless changed will continue to undermine the inclusion of the people from non-western nations in their national politics as well as international politics and discount their historical experiences.
So far globalization has been economical and to some extent cultural, why not also political? The western voices fighting for this have been largely silenced. With the neo-liberal thinking originating from the time of the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund) that has been dominating the minds of politicians and economists from the beginning of the 1980’s onwards and later the collapse of communism, the establishment of the WTO (World Trade Organization) etc., most universities have become actors on the markets providing services with a focus on off shore campuses and worldwide distance learning rather than being centers of intellectual and social activism, labour unions have been puppeteered into silence and the centers of gravidity in most western political parties have been dragged to the right.
Other voices such as indigenous groups around the world have not become silent; on the contrary as the voices from the Western nations have quieted down, these voices have grown stronger (ie Bolivia that now has an indigenous president representing the 70% of the population). Today massive social movements are gaining considerable political influence in most of South America. Globalization is slowly being politicized from the bottom. There is, however, still a long way to go and in both most South East Asia and most of Africa the mobilization is inhibited by weak governments or strong military governments both coerced by the multinational environment of the WB, IMF and corporations.
In the meantime this way of thinking pressures governments all over the world enrolled in WB or IMF programmes as well as those being exposed to multinational corporations in various scenarios and environmental changes caused by global warming. All over the world people and indigenous people in particular as their lands are still resourceful, are threatened by this combination of which some according to Beverly Bell from the Center for Economic Justice are:
• expulsion from their own lands,
• extraction and privatization of natural resources,
• expropriation of indigenous knowledge and genetic material,
• loss of control of food resources and agriculture,
• violation of human and political rights,
• undermining of national and international laws and treaties,
• exploitative trade pacts and
• criminalization of social protest to name just some.
To most of us in the West this is horrible, but we simply don’t and cannot begin to understand the scale nor the personal impact it has on the people suffering. It is however our duty to try to do so and challenge and change our own way of thinking. We can do that if we have the ambition and determination to do so. So what can we do?
As couchsurfers we should be particular aware of our own impact both as travelers, citizens in our countries and the world and consumers with a western lifestyle!
What we do and can do while traveling
As travelers we have an impact. Up to 55% of the money spent abroad in 2001 was estimated by the World Bank to leave the countries again due to ownership situations, tax laws etc. (yes… the world bank itself said this!) and its not small money either. According to the World Tourism Organization 763 million people traveled to another country in 2004 and spent US$ 622 billion...
“Yes, but I buy arts and crafts to support the locals”.
The belief of buying marketed indigenous goods when traveling in the developing countries is helpful, is according to Suzanne York of the International Forum on Globalization, not as good as we think: it leaves the local communities exposed to a global consumer culture in which they often have to compete against subsidized and often multinational corporations that by copying the indigenous artifacts rob these cultures of their identity and eliminate their self reliance. Also check out the tips page here on couchsurfing:
On top of this every trip equivalent of a flight from the US to Europe means the exposure of the planet to the carbon dioxide emission from an average family’s annual energy consumption! Every time we fly such a distance we emit the same amount of carbon dioxide as a western family living in a house in a year! Should we even travel then?
I believe yes. There are several reasons. Foremost I believe that if one travels with the intention of learning and later spread the word it can be considered responsible. Over time, hopefully, the technology to fly/sail will become more efficient and responsible also. We cannot and must not disconnect ourselves from one another, but stay connected in a responsible manner.
When we travel we must:
• expose ourselves and challenge the way we look at the world – learn about the places you are going
• support grass roots in support of the developing world by donating a little and have a willingness to learn
• travel by bus if possible and meet the locals and listen to their stories and show you care rather than travel by plane,
• buy your crafts and be aware of the context and use them to spread the word when you get home etc.
We decide our own impact.
What we do and can do at home
It is at home however; we can use our newly acquired ideas and gain more influence as we have more rights as citizen and buying power as consumers than as travelers. First we must look at ourselves and connect what we know about the world to what we do at home.
The economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s advocated on the workings of having versus not having, as he believed having would effectively block the possibility of social change as it would create a culture of contentment (in form and shape of the latest fashion, trendiest mobile phone, biggest and clearest LCD television, the fastest or biggest car, nicest house etc.?). This has come to exist in the mind of the majority in the West, which has subjected the political debate and exercised an ethos of conformity. Do we recognize this in ourselves?
We need be aware of the consequences of our choices. For example, we can:
• leave the car at home and take the bus or ride our bikes if possible,
• use energy efficient light bulbs and water saving devices
• support solar/wind energy projects and resist nuclear strategies,
• write to our politicians and ask them to focus on changing things instead of badmouthing each other
• demand our politicians to explain what the laws of the WTO actually mean and how the WB/IMF help – they can’t… hold them accountable
• read our constitutions, demand them to be upheld in court by supporting ongoing cases by indigenous people and donate to these cases (for example Indian and Aboriginal cases in Australia, Canada and the US)
• show support for indigenous language initiatives (for example the Hawaii, Indian and Aboriginal initiatives in Australia, Canada and the US) as they represent the so far unfortunate 2800 nations not yet recognized,
• start a writing campaign in your community to multinational corporations and demand change, they are committing monstrous crimes in our name,
• we need educate ourselves: read, debate, participate and have our say for not only our own sake but also the next generation so demand of media and education systems to supply a more coherent and comprehensive picture of the past and present and
• ask our NGO’s to educate us at home about the social movements around the world rather than spreading the word in the developing countries on how to change. That is not what is needed. We are causing the trouble and others are causing it in our name, so it starts with us.
As citizens and consumers we decide our own impact.
As travelers, citizens and consumers we have responsibility to be heard and make an impact and a difference. The clever and inspirational Indian lawyer and politician Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. The Frenchman Moliere said: “It is not only what we do, but also what we don’t do, for which we are accountable”.
also think about the following words (said by my sisters best friends principal when she was in Australia): “Think of human life as a spider web. A delicate network of interconnectedness. If you touch it anywhere, you set the whole thing trembling... the life that you touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops, or in what far place & time your touch will be felt. Our lives are linked. No woman, no man is an island. There is a fragility, a sensitivity in human relations." thats the beutiful part of globalization for ya! Enjoy your trips!
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, French Guiana, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Peru, Poland, Russian Federation, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican City State
Australia, Denmark, France
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