What we can learn from other countries is that we are in serious danger of becoming a country with a Trumpian government, believing we are more important. We don’t need to be ‘world-beating’, just a peaceful friendly nation, which makes good tea! The fact that most people supported the Chancellor’s proposal to cut aid to the world’s poorest (the week after committing £16 billion on defence) means worrying times ahead. Also see what we can learn from Scandinavia.
The Serenity Passport is a world tour of peaceful living in 30 words, with secrets drawn from cultures around the world. Try Ayliak (the Bulgarian art of living slowly without worry), Hoppìpolla (Icelandic jumping in puddles), Flâneur (French leisure strolls) or Utepils (a beer outside with Norwegian friends).
What We Can Learn From Germany
We still have one Green MP (Caroline Lucas), whereas Greens are high up in German (and other European) governments. The next German chancellor was even tipped to be the Green co-leder (who in his spare time writes poetry). This did not happen, but many say Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock could be the next leader of Germany. The large Green vote there means their forests are highly protected (unlike ours – only a petition at 38 Degrees stopped our government from recently trying to sell off all our forests to private companies). And if you thought that Germans all ate frankfurters, know that it has more vegans by ratio than any country on earth (followed by Israel and the US – Berlin is officially the world’s most vegan-friendly city).
The mass media often highlight the differences due to the Second World War. In fact, Germany is now a pretty progressive country, and does things a lot better than us, in most instances. It has good environmental policies, it protects its forests (England’s second-largest pear tree was just chopped down, to make way for the disastrous HS2 project). Germany’s state-owned railways are deemed the best in the world, we could have spent that money on upgrading present stock.
Greens are in power-sharing in many European countries, including Switzerland, Sweden and Finland, proving that the people who laugh at the thought of Greens gaining power, have not done their homework. It reminds one of the phrase that Gandhi once said ‘ First, they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win’.
One reason why Greens gain more votes abroad, is because they have fairer voting systems. Labour may be ‘for the people’, but neither they nor the Tories want proportional representation (where you don’t have to use tactical voting) as it would mean smaller parties like Lib Dems, Greens and independents would start gaining seats. They are still all about power, no matter what they say. Many Labour supporters want PR, but it’s blocked by the unions. One expert said that if PR came into play, it’s likely that both parties would never gain whole power again. Democracy, eh?
It will be interesting when (and that’s more likely than if) Scotland gains independence, what happens. SNP would likely be in power, and have plans to introduce PR. So at the election after that, it will be interesting to see if new and progressive parties start to come up and gain power, if this happens.
What We Can Learn from Central & South America
Most of the western world are obsessed with GDP (the Gross Domestic Product index, based on economic index). So if we have more hospitals, prisons, wars, ecological clean-up etc, it’s deemed as ‘good’ as it earns money and creates jobs. Of course, that means keeping people sick or in crime or in war or spilling oil in the oceans.
Many economists want new forms of judging a country’s wealth, to include health, environmental and animal welfare, sustainability, happiness etc. You’ve likely heard of the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan with its ‘happiness index’. The (non-democratic) King has banned many things (including cigarettes, billboards, McDonald’s and coca-cola, on the grounds that none of them make his subjects happy!)
The best alternative is the Happy Planet Index, which plummets the UK down to 14th on the list, and the USA an abysmal 122nd). Top country here is Costa Rica (home to toucans and sloth bears!) This beautiful country got rid of its military years ago, and used the money to invest in protecting rainforests and creating green educational spaces for children. It outperforms the US on life expectancy, wellbeing and environmental sustainability, despite ‘earning’ less than half of the USA’s income. Yet people are healthier and happier. The country’s ecological footprint is also one third of the USA.
Also south of the Mexican border is the former crime-ridden city of Bogota in Colombia. Enrique Peñalosa is the former Mayor who also attempted to become of the world’s first Green Party presidents (he lost, and says his profession is a politician – but not a very good one, as he keeps losing elections!) A few years back during his first stint, he made headlines worldwide, when he ripped up the budget to build more roads and instead built cycleways and bus services, and gave extra money to build green spaces for children. He obviously wasn’t popular, but turned a gridlocked crime-ridden city into one that was almost car-free.
While studying English, he noted that one of the first words he learned was ‘shopping’. He thought that meant ‘to go and buy things’. But he wrote that he later learned that in fact, it was simply people ambling around malls, because as natural social beings, they just wanted to meet people.
In cities that are a bit sick, shopping malls replace public space as a place for meeting people. Public space is for living, doing business, kissing and playing. Its value can’t be measured with economics or mathematics. It must be felt with the soul. Enrique
Music Break: telepatía
If you’ve never discovered Scary Pockets, now’s the time! This has a regular back-up band and brings in talented singers and musicians from around the world, to do ‘funk covers’ of popular songs. Check this out, the bassist Nicole Row is creating a real stir in the music world, having already toured with the likes of Miley Cyrus.