This Christmas, don’t just give them the latest trendy tech gadget that will just end up in the junk drawer after six months. Give them something they can really use. Give them Balloon Cats.
Awesome Kitty says:
In our world today we have an economic system that is the same pretty much everywhere, and that experts and politicians insist is unquestionably scientific and inevitable, even though (a) it’s actually brand new, historically speaking, and (b) it fails to do what any decent economic system should do: make it possible for most people to live decent lives, with adequate food and shelter and clothing and not-too-horrible work.
Given this, it’s helpful to compare economic systems from other times and places; they might be just as terrible as ours, or even worth, but even so it’s nice to get some sense of all the different systems that humans have tried out over the years!
In that spirit I present to you The Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 8-55), from both the Jewish Bible and the Christian Old Testament.
“Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what is really being sold to you is the number of crops. Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.
Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.
The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.
If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold. If, however, there is no one to redeem it for them but later on they prosper and acquire sufficient means to redeem it themselves, they are to determine the value for the years since they sold it and refund the balance to the one to whom they sold it; they can then go back to their own property. But if they do not acquire the means to repay, what was sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and they can then go back to their property.
Anyone who sells a house in a walled city retains the right of redemption a full year after its sale. During that time the seller may redeem it. If it is not redeemed before a full year has passed, the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to the buyer and the buyer’s descendants. It is not to be returned in the Jubilee. But houses in villages without walls around them are to be considered as belonging to the open country. They can be redeemed, and they are to be returned in the Jubilee.
The Levites always have the right to redeem their houses in the Levitical towns, which they possess. So the property of the Levites is redeemable—that is, a house sold in any town they hold—and is to be returned in the Jubilee, because the houses in the towns of the Levites are their property among the Israelites. But the pastureland belonging to their towns must not be sold; it is their permanent possession.
If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
If a foreigner residing among you becomes rich and any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to the foreigner or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, they retain the right of redemption after they have sold themselves. One of their relatives may redeem them: An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in their clan may redeem them. Or if they prosper, they may redeem themselves. They and their buyer are to count the time from the year they sold themselves up to the Year of Jubilee. The price for their release is to be based on the rate paid to a hired worker for that number of years. If many years remain, they must pay for their redemption a larger share of the price paid for them. If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, they are to compute that and pay for their redemption accordingly. They are to be treated as workers hired from year to year; you must see to it that those to whom they owe service do not rule over them ruthlessly.
Even if someone is not redeemed in any of these ways, they and their children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee, for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.“
Welcome to the Fantastic Realm, where everything you imagine becomes real! Here your thoughts and dreams, and even your hopes and fears, can influence the external reality! Which, um… isn’t all that different from how things work in the human world, come to think of it.
But we have Balloon Cats! How great is that? You should come visit sometime, we get lots of humans like you coming here for a little vacation. Actually, no offense, but some of the stuff you humans think up is pretty horrible. Like that thing last week, ugh. Just… ugh. But we don’t mind! After you go the Reality Re-equilibrator cleans the whole thing up, no mess, no fuss.
Sometimes I worry about you humans in your human world. You know, thoughts in the wild can be very dangerous. And it seems like you humans just go around thinking things without even, you know, thinking about it? So I was wondering if maybe you need somewhere to practice. Here you can think up thoughts and watch them evolve. You can try them out without risking any permanent damage.
You can come here whenever you want.
The background image is derived from the public domain artwork ‘city skyline’ by rg1024.
An exciting new in-browser gaming experience!
Inage source: Bald Man Drinks Coffee, public domain.
Image credit: dodo bird by oksmith, Public Domain.
Image credit: Raven by Rones, Public Domain.
The Santa image comes from Santa with a bag 1907 by j4p4n, Public Domain
Frame image source: Art Nouveau Frame 2, public domain.
“You don’t know how lucky you are,” the man in the bowler hat said to the little girl, “you have freedom!”
“What’s freedom?” the little girl asked.
“Freedom means being able to do what you want.”
The girl’s eyes lit up. “I can do whatever I want?” she asked.
“No, no,” the man said hastily, “not whatever you want. But look here.”
The man lifted his walking stick in one gloved hand and used it to point at the computer on the desk.
“You are free to look at any website you please,” he said, “with your parents’ permission, of course. And you are free to say what you like without fear of persecution. If you write a blog post or a status update that is critical of the government, you can rest assured that you won’t be arrested or beaten up or carried away in the dead of night never to be seem or heard from again.”
The little girl said: “I’m glad I won’t be arrested or beaten up or carried away in the dead of night never to be seen or heard from again, but it seems to me that that is a very low standard. It seems to me that freedom should mean more than just that.”
The man in the bowler hat tucked his cane smartly under his arm and removed one of his white gloves.
“Now see here, young lady,” the man said, and he snapped his fingers. In the blink of an eye, the two of them were magically transported into a supermarket. Around them were rows upon rows of brightly packaged products.
“Look around you,” the man in the bowler hat said grandly, “so many products! So much freedom! So much choice!”
The little girl’s eyes grew wide. “You mean I can have whatever I want?” she asked.
“Young lady, that’s exactly what I mean!” declared the man in the bowler hat. Then, without any warning or introduction, he burst into song, singing:
Original image: ‘Hand holding blank card’ posted by johnny automatic
Image credit: ‘Pink Lady Bug’ by Kara 78.
Um, brain? What’s going on?
What happened? Why am I sitting here? What have we been doing for the past three hours?
Oh, that. Well, we made this cute picture in inkscape.
We were going to wash the dishes and… we were going to do a whole bunch of stuff. Important stuff. And I can’t even tell what kind of animal that is.
I think it’s sort of halfway between a cat and a chipmunk?
It’s OK, you’re allowed to do that. The police don’t come to your house and arrest you.
I know they don’t, I just can’t believe we drifted into some kind of mental fog and spent the whole day making that stupid image.
I like it though. Look how cute she is! Just sitting on some pretty meadow and not giving a single fuck about the real world. I think it’s awesome!
I… Huh. It is kind of cute, if you look at it in a particular way. But you could say that about almost anything.
You just don’t want to admit how much you really love that catchipmunk.
The stairway was narrow and ugly and seldom used. The walls and steps were all made of the same rough bare concrete, scuffed and stained by smoke. As she descended the noises got louder: hissing, roiling, clanging. At the bottom was a heavy door that needed all Froud’s strength to push it open, leading into a small room, dimly lit and uncomfortably warm, dominated by a huge black cast-iron furnace that rattled and hissed and smoked. The air was hot and thick and tasted of soot.
Froud wore overalls of a nondescript grey-blue colour, steel-toed boots, and a bright orange cap of hard plastic. Both the overalls and the boots were worn and supple from long use, and were several sizes too large for her.
The one who awaited her inside wore similar gear. “You’re half an hour late,” she grumbled.
Froud was staring at the hissing, rattling smoky-black hulk of the furnace. It took her a moment to reply. “Um, I’m sorry. I had to get the keys to the storeroom from the equipment desk, and find a hat and boots that would fit me, so…”
The other one took a step toward her, eyes narrowing. “Are you telling me that this is your first shift?”
Froud stammered: “Th-there was no-one else, s-someone was asking for a volunteer to take an engine room shift because no-one was signed up to the rota, and n-no-one was free to take the shift, so I said I’d do it.”
“Well that’s just great,” the other one said angrily. “I’ve just come to the end of a double shift, and half an hour past shift change they send me someone who doesn’t know anything. Well, it’s not your fault. I’m Dorrence.” She held out her arm, and the newcomer clasped it.
The purpose of doing CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is to get better at being happy.
“Being happy” is surprisingly hard to do: it takes knowledge and skill, patience and practice. You have to pay attention to your feelings and notice which things make you feel happy or peaceful or calm, and which things make you feel anxious or angry or ashamed or miserable. You have to learn which things in your life trip you up. You have to keep practising and working at it until you can do it even when you are tired or startled, or when you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation. You have to keep working at it your whole life long, because the things that make you happy, and the things that trip you up, can change with time. And sometimes being happy isn’t really achievable, so you just have to work on becoming less miserable.
Of course, when you talk to counsellors, doctors, social workers or psychologists, they usually don’t tell you that the purpose of CBT is to get better at being happy – instead, they tell you that the goal is to stop compulsive or self-destructive behaviours, to overcome anxiety or phobias, or simply to find a job or return to work and become a more productive member of society. Those things are all just secondary goals, and the primary goal is still to live your life in a way that makes you happy. Having secondary goals can be helpful because they give you something concrete to focus on, but if there is ever any conflict or confusion among the goals you should always return to the fundamental one.
Sometimes counsellors or doctors only want to talk about practical things like getting back to work as quickly as possible. Since they have a lot of power over you you might have to go along with what they say even if you don’t agree with it 100%, and that’s OK. You can still hold onto the fundamental goal inside your head, even if you don’t say it out loud.