Monthly Archives: November 2015

Science Fiction Predicts Future

Science fiction writers have accurately predicted future outcomes, as in Jules Verne’s 1869 novel about a submarine, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1968 science-fiction novel that was made into a film. Physicist and author Dr. Michio Kaku commented that it’s the most accurate portrayal of quantum mechanics and super string theory—the study of the smallest building blocks of matter, such as quarks, and possibly vibrating strings as the smallest of all. Dr. Kaku says the science fiction film Contact also is based on physics, except for the ending.

Science fiction writers portray what will happen if we continue to increase the gap between the rich and poor and destroy the environment. The best-selling film of its time, Avatar refers to an earth where there is no green left. Corporations turn to other planets to rob their resources with the same lack of regard for the damage they caused on Earth. In contrast, the indigenous Navi stay in harmony with nature and their planet, Pandora, stays beautiful. Shehroz recommends watching the movie WALL-E, in which “humans are shown as lazy, fat, techno-addicted beings who cannot move without the use of machines.” Gary Shteyngart’s 2012 novel, Super Sad True Love Story (2010), portrays the near future where the US is collapsing, media controls what people think, books are no longer in use, and there’s only one political party. Ronald Wright’s A Scientific Romance (1999) is another dystopian novel. A social scientist’s view of corporate domination and the future is written by Chris Hedges in his Empire of Illusion.

In The Handmaid’s Tale, Canadian Margaret Atwood’s futurist novel that was made into a film, most women can’t reproduce because of damage caused by environmental toxins. Atwood said she didn’t put anything in that book that hasn’t happened somewhere on the planet. She points to natural disasters including fires, floods, and hurricanes as evidence of global warming to illustrate that the world as we know it is gone.

In another dystopian novel, The Year of the Flood, Atwood writes about a future ecological religion called God’s Gardeners that blends religion and science. Their saints are environment leaders like Rachel Carlson, Al Gore, E.O. Wilson, St. Francis of Assisi, and Diane Fossey. The book tells the story of corporate greed and lack of ethics, with a walled area for the corporate elite and their families, and lawlessness outside the walls. Biotech and pharmaceutical companies ruled until a plague kills most people so the remaining few have to live off the land. Before the plague, Atwood’s corporate scientists created genetically altered animals and “perfect people.” What they thought was ideal was to create different skin colors, they don’t get old or have body hair, don’t need to wear clothes or eat food except leaves, purr like cats, and turn blue when in heat to “eliminate romantic pain.” Atwood’s novel describes how the characters manage to live by recycling everything.[i] If Atwood’s fears come true, technology will lead to ruin and a return to nature. Along this line, an Indonesian teen would like to “flatten the buildings and allow people to live wildly, with nature” (Kazu, m, 17).

“What are the odds of this world getting drastically better rather than worse?” asks Mouse, 16, f, California. Ecofiction imagines a brighter future.[ii] A progressive view of the future where people live collectively and environmentally is found in the 1975 utopian novel Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. More utopian novels are listed in the endnote.[iii] Futurist Alvin Toffler, author of The Third Wave and Future Shock, maintains that major change is driven by technological inventions: the plow for the Agricultural Era (which began 12,000 years ago), steam engines for the Industrial Era (1760s), and the computer for the Information Age (1950s), sometimes called Postmodernism. Change occurs faster and faster due to technological advances. Toffler predicts a major trend will be the creation of wealth in outer space with technology like global positioning satellites, and even more expansion of global information and commerce made possible by the Internet.

Physicist Fritjof Capra says the Age of Biology will follow the Information Age, as the environment is the dominant issue.[iv] “A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C,” warned World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim:[v] “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”

[ii] Jim Dwyer. Where the Wild Books Are: A Field Guide to Ecofiction. University of Nevada Press, 2010

[iii] Jim Dwyer, cited above, lists young adult books which he says tends to be utopian or at least not discouraging. Mari Sandoz, Joseph Bruchac’s Dawn Land series, Watership Down, Jim Lynch’s The Highest Tide, Ice Trek and Flight of the Osprey by Ewan Clarkson, R.D Lawrence’s Cry Wild and The White Puma, Strong Feather by Richard Inglis Hopper, Star Trek 4, Lloyd Hill’s The Village of Bom Jesus, Seth Kanter’s Ordinary Wolves for older teens, Isabel Allendes’s City of Beasts, Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story, Jean Stafford’s The Mountain Lion, Rudolpho Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, When Coyote Howls by Robert Gish.

Wikipedia provides an overview of utopian fiction, including feminist novels.

US Millennials Less Religious

Similar to youth in other countries, a Pew Research Center report on the US Millennial Generation (defined as ages 18 to 29) found they’re less religious than older people but as likely to pray (45% pray daily and about 25% meditate weekly).[i] Only 25% affiliate with a particular faith. About one quarter say they are atheists, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” They’re less likely to attend religious services than older generations–only 18% attend at least once a week. A general decline in American’s confidence in religion began in the 1970s, not just among youth: Only 44% of adults have confidence in “the church or organized religion.”[ii] Less than half of Millennials say that religion is very important in their lives (45% compared to 69% of ages 65 and older) but two-thirds are certain of God’s existence and their beliefs about the afterlife are similar to older people.

A longitudinal Study of Youth and Religion conducted telephone surveys of US teens, ages 13-17, in 2002 and 2003.[iii] Half of the teens believed religious organizations are doing a good job for the country, 17% had no opinion, while only 10% felt religious organizations were doing a poor job. Black youth were less likely to be alienated from organized religion than white youth, while girls were less alienated than boys. The same teens were surveyed again in 2005 when a sizeable minority became less religious, while a small minority became more interested in alternative religious beliefs like reincarnation. Fewer reported belief in a person God, judgment day and an afterlife, but the majority found their religious congregations inspiring.

In a 2006 survey of 2,546 Americans ages 18 to 24, almost one-quarter had no religious preference but 40% said religion was personally very important.[iv] More than 100 questions were asked of 1,280 young Americans ages 13-24 by the Associated Press and MTV in 2007. Almost half said religion and spiritually are very important to them and more than half believe in a higher power.

A large 2014 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center reported Millennials became less religious over time than older generations compared with 2007 survey, with older Millennials even less affiliated with a religion than they were in 2007.[i] They’re the only generation where less than half say religion is very important to them. Only half of Millennials are certain that God exists and slightly more than one-quarter attend religious services at least once a week. Muslims are more likely to believe in God and women are more likely to pray every day in all age groups. The respondents of various ages are becoming more spiritual, defined as regularly feeling a “deep sense of spiritual peace.” Young adults are more liberal socially, more accepting of homosexuality even among evangelical Protestants, with more liberal attitudes bout the environment, the role of government, and immigration. The exception is religious Millennials aren’t more supportive of abortion rights than older generations. As more religious generations die, we’re seeing less religious observance.

Here are youth quotes from other countries about their religious beliefs:

To become mature as a sprit and then go to paradise. Clinton, 11, m, Nigeria


What does Jesus look like? Kendra, 9, f, Canadian in Belize


Why doesn’t everybody believe in God? I’m a Christian. Lewis, 12, m, US


Jesus lives today, tomorrow and forever. Jesus is the way, truth and life.

Gerold, 14, m, India


I love Jesus. He loves you too and wants to be your friend!

Katerina, 16, f, Ukraine


[i] Pew Research Center, “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” February 24, 2010.

“Religion Among the Millennials: Less Religiously Active Than Older Americans, But Fairly Traditional In Other Ways,” poll February 17, 2010

[ii] Lydia Saad, “US Confidence in Organized Religion at Low Point,” Gallup Politics, July 12, 2012.

[iii] Christian Smith, Robert Faris and Melinda Denton, “A Research Report of the National Study of Youth and Religion, Are American Youth Alienated from Organized Religion?” Number 6.

Melinda Denton, L.D. Pearce, and Christian Smith, “Religion and Spirituality on the Path Through Adolescence,” Research Report Number 8, 2008.

[iv] Harvard University, “Youth Survey on Politics and Public Service,” October 2006.

[i] “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center, November 3, 2015.

Global Youth Surveys Countries List


Countries (88) x=visited this country

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Algeria
  3. Argentina
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Australia
  6. Bangladesh
  7. Belgium
  8. Belize x
  9. Bhutan
  10. Brazil x
  1. Burma/Myanmar
  1. Canada x
  2. Chad
  3. Chile
  4. China x
  5. Colombia
  6. Denmark x
  7. Dominican Republic
  8. Ecuador
  9. Egypt x
  10. El Salvador
  11. Ethiopia
  12. France x
  13. Georgia
  14. Germany x
  15. Greece x
  16. India x
  17. Indonesia x
  18. Iraq
  19. Israel
  20. Italy x
  21. Japan x
  22. Kazakhstan
  23. Kenya
  24. Latvia
  25. Mali
  26. Mexico x
  27. Mozambique
  28. Netherlands x
  29. Nepal
  30. New Zealand
  31. Nicaragua
  32. Nigeria
  33. Northern Ireland
  34. Norway
  35. Oman
  36. Pakistan
  37. Palestine
  38. Paraguay
  39. Philippines
  40. Romania
  41. Russia x
  42. Saudi Arabia
  43. Singapore x
  44. Spain
  45. South Korea x
  46. Suriname
  47. Sweden x
  48. Switzerland x
  49. Syria
  50. Tajikistan
  51. Tanzania x
  52. Thailand x
  53. Trinidad and Tobago
  54. Turkey x
  55. Turkmenistan
  56. Uganda
  57. United States x
  58. United Kingdom x
  59. Ukraine
  60. Uruguay
  61. Uzbekistan
  62. Vietnam
  63. Zambia
  64. Most Populated Countries1 China 1,321,851,8882 India 1,129,866,1543 United States 301,139,947

    4 Indonesia 234,693,997

    5 Brazil 190,010,647

    6 Pakistan 164,741,924

    7 Bangladesh 150,448,339

    8 Russia 141,377,752

    9 Nigeria 135,031,164

    10 Japan 127,433,494

    U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base. Data updated 07-16-2007

Represented in the Global Youth Survey Responses with Girls Older/Younger and Boys Older/Younger (ages 12-5 are younger, 13-19 are older)

Total 3838


Sub-Saharan Africa 366 Total (196 girls/164 boys)

Burkina Faso 3/0

Chad 0/1

Ethiopia 1/0

Kenya 57/0

Liberia 10/12 and 5/7

Mali 0/1

Mozambique 0/0. 1/0

Nigeria 10/20

Sudan 14/1 and 34/1

Tanzania 51/5 and 55/10

Zambia 3/5 and 6/33

South Africa 10/4 and 6/0

Uganda 0, 1/0


East Asia 1044 (668/376)

Burma/Myamar 2/1

China 101/19 and 71/21

Western rural China 176/5 and 103/6

Indonesia 24/7 and 14/9
Philippines 0/1, 1/1

Singapore 3/0 2/2

Malaysia 2/0

Taiwan 13/1

Japan 193/7 and 70/15

South Korea 108/44 and 2/0

Thailand 2/1, 0/1

Vietnam 2/0


Indian Subcontinent 344 (201/153)

India 151/12 and 111/2

Bhutan 3/0, 3/0

Pakistan 19/1 and 25/0

Bangladesh 0/0 and 8/0

Nepal 15/1 and 16/0


Central Asia 116   (81/55)

Armenia 2/0

Azerbaijan 5/0, 4/0

Uzbekistan 5/0 and 2/0

Afghanistan 8/0 and 17/0

Georgia 4/0 and 3/0

Tajikistan 18/0 and 13/0

Turkmenistan 19/1 and 15/0

Kazakhstan 0/0 and 1/0


Canada 82 (57/44)

Alberta 2/0 and 1/2

British Colombia 21/6 and 22/12

Manitoba 3/0

Nova Scotia 1/0 and 1/0

Ontario 1/0

Quebec 14/0 and 14/0


Eastern Europe and Russia 99 (67/28)

Russia 16/0 and 5/2

Ukraine 19/0 and 10/0

Romania 20/2 and 9/

Latvia, 3/0

Bulgaria 5/0 and 1/0

Czech Republic 1/0 and 1/3

Serbia 1/0, 2/0

Slovakia 1/0


Europe–West and British Commonwealth 310 (193/118)

Australia 19/0 and 12/2

Belgium 0/0 0/1

Denmark 0, 1/0

Finland 0/1

France 5/0 and 20/3

Germany 26/1 and 9/0

Greece 2/1, 0/2

Italy 2230, 3/0

Netherlands 9/0 and 3/0

New Zealand 38/0 and 12/0

Spain 0/4 and 1/0

Sweden 7/1 and 8/0

Switzerland 36/12 and 32/4

United Kingdom 7/1 and 4/0


Middle East 116 (54/65)

Algeria 4/0, 1/0

Dubai 1/1

Iraq 0/0 3/0

Israel 13/0 and 13/1

Oman 2/

Saudi Arabia 6/0 and 14/1

Turkey 11/10 and 8/6

Kuwait 0 and 1/0

Palestine 4/0 and 2/0

Syria 1/0 and 11/1

Egypt 1/0 and 3/0


Latin America and Caribbean 197 (124/80)

Argentina 0/0, 1/0

Belize 3/14 and 6/15

Bonaire 12/0 and 16/0

Brazil 14/5 and 15/5

Chile 2/0

Costa Rica 0/0 1/0

Colombia 6/19 and 3/33

Dominican Republic 1/0, 1/0

Ecuador 1/0 and 3/5

El Salvador 8/0 and 9/0

Mexico 2/0, 2/0

Nicaragua 7/0 and 4/0

Paraguay 1/0

Suriname 1/0

Trinidad and Tobago 0/0 and 1/0

Uruguay 3/1


United States 1142 (698/514)

Western states 350/157; Midwest 20/15; North East 23/4; South 3/35

Alabama 1

California 185/ 83 and 252/97

Connecticut 2/0

Florida 7/0 and 1/1

Georgia 4/0

Hawaii 124/13 and 70/10

Idaho 2/3 and 8/0

Illinois 3/0

Kansas 1

Kentucky 1/23 and 0/23

Louisiana 1/1, 0/2

Maryland 2/

Massachusetts 2/1

Michigan 4/0 and 1/0

Minnesota 5/6 and 1/13

New Mexico 4/6, 9/10

New Jersey 0/3 and 1/0

New York 7/1 and 2/0

North Carolina 9/11 and 0/11

Oregon 1/40 and 0/27

Pennsylvania 4/0

South Carolina 2/0

Texas 1/0 and 1/0

Washington 4/2, 1/0

Wisconsin 1

Vermont 3/0


Countries (73) x=visited this country

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Algeria
  3. Argentina
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Australia
  6. Bangladesh
  7. Belgium
  8. Belize x
  9. Bhutan
  10. Brazil x
  1. Burma/Myanmar
  1. Canada x
  2. Chad
  3. Chile
  4. China x
  5. Colombia
  6. Denmark x
  7. Dominican Republic
  8. Ecuador
  9. Egypt x
  10. El Salvador
  11. Ethiopia
  12. France x
  13. Georgia
  14. Germany x
  15. Greece x
  16. India x
  17. Indonesia x
  18. Iraq
  19. Israel
  20. Italy x
  21. Japan x
  22. Kazakhstan
  23. Kenya
  24. Latvia
  25. Mali
  26. Mexico x
  27. Mozambique
  28. Netherlands x
  29. Nepal
  30. New Zealand
  31. Nicaragua
  32. Nigeria
  33. Northern Ireland
  34. Norway
  35. Oman
  36. Pakistan
  37. Palestine
  38. Paraguay
  39. Philippines
  40. Romania
  41. Russia x
  42. Saudi Arabia
  43. Singapore x
  44. Spain
  45. South Korea x
  46. Suriname
  47. Sweden x
  48. Switzerland x
  49. Syria
  50. Tajikistan
  51. Tanzania x
  52. Thailand x
  53. Trinidad and Tobago
  54. Turkey x
  55. Turkmenistan
  56. Uganda
  57. United States x
  58. United Kingdom x
  59. Ukraine
  60. Uruguay
  61. Uzbekistan
  62. Vietnam
  63. Zambia


Most Populated Countries

1 China 1,321,851,888

2 India 1,129,866,154

3 United States 301,139,947

4 Indonesia 234,693,997

5 Brazil 190,010,647

6 Pakistan 164,741,924

7 Bangladesh 150,448,339

8 Russia 141,377,752

9 Nigeria 135,031,164

10 Japan 127,433,494

U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base. Data updated 07-16-2007

Global Youth Survey Acknowledgements


Kirby Archer was an ideal copy editor, going through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb. Bitz Haley, Thomas Hart and Diane Lund also proofread. These educators and others helped recruit student responses.

American Language & Culture Institute at California State University, Chico instructors: Marilyn Moore, Deedee Vest and Karen Duffy.

Ami Akeo, teacher, Hawaii

Mohammed Al-Subhi , teacher, Oman <>

Marie Altman, teaching English in Chinese universities

Phyllis Atkinson 868 1875

Annie Bacon, Nicuragua organization

Payal Bhatnagar, writer, India

Melody Blu, teacher, Ecuador

Chantal Brosens, Singapore therapist

Gabriela Gaione Catepón, Uruguay teacher

Jessie Chang, resident, Palestine

Jeroo Chothia, teacher, India

Aprile Collett, teacher, Indonesia

Charles Copeland, California teacher

Janice Cheshire, Florida teacher

Chiu Choi Sook Chun, School Headmistress, Hongkong

Jeroo Chothia, India teacher

Dina De Leon, teacher, El Salvador

Sara Dixon, teacher, Tanzania

Emma Davies, teacher, Tanzania

Bob Dix, teacher, Idaho

Amal Elqersh, teacher, Egypt

Brenda J. Etchison. California teacher

Nagwa Ghallab, teacher, Egypt

Elizabeth Gaskell, teacher, California

Indira Ghale, community organizer Nepal

Luzius Gruber, teacher, Switzerland

Kathryn Halloran, nurse in Sudan

Patty Hamsher, teacher, Belize

Karen Howells, CA teacher

Helen Ito, Japan

Rajni Jaimini, teacher, India

Carolina Jaramillo, teacher, Colombia

Reginald James, university student, Nigerian

Fernanda Job, mother, Brazil

Kristine Keene, teacher, California

Zack Kincehlo, teacher, California

Delyth Kitch, mother, California

Joe Koorndijk, Suriname teacher

Lauren Lau, mother, Honk Kong

Thomas Mainberger, teacher, Switzerland

Rita Manzini, teacher, italy

Mantri Masnur, teacher Indonesia

Teresia Midow, Swedish teacher

Carlos C. Modrego, Ecudaor, teacher

Susanna Moore, school counselor, Oregon

Claudia Morar, teacher, Romania

Anna Mussman, Program Officer, US State Department

Abel Luka Mtui, Tanzania

Noriko Nogami, teacher, Japan

Valérie Nouasria, teacher, France

Anne Novak, teacher, Canada

June Park, Korean American

Diana Parks, program director Teaching Excellence and Achievement—brings international English teachers to CSUC to study for six weeks.

Virginia Partain, teacher, California

Judy Pellarin, teacher New Garden Friends School, North Carolina

Joel PeÑa, teacher, El Salvador

Santa Cabrera Perdomo, teacher, Dominican  Republic

Sandrine Picard, French teacher

Natalia Pinchevsky Skripochnik, Israel teacher

Pulse Wire: Bring Women a Global Voice

Wendy Putter, teacher, The Netherlands

Fan Qiu, Chinese in Zambia

Allison Ramay, professor, Chile

Linda Ratto

Krishna Deep Rayaprolu and his father, India

Karina Rivera, teacher, Peru

Violeta Rubiani, Paraguay

Annette Russ, director of Just One Person, Kenya

Olga Romanenko, teacher, Ukraine

Hassan Saeed, student, Pakistan

Xavier Sagayanathan, teacher, Chenai, India Xavier Sagayanathan

Mawana Said, mother, Tanzania

Suhad Saif, teacher, Israel

Diana Santamaria, Colombia

Akemi Sato, Japan

Susie Schlackl, teacher, Brititsh Columbia

Eric Schneider, editor Youth-Leader magazine

Atamaram Sekar, high school principal, India

Serdar Sengun, Turkey

Farah Shafi Kamal, teacher, Pakistan

Amarjeet Singh, principal, India

Dalbir Singh, India

HarCharan Singh, teacher, India

Nurdin Somantri, teacher, Indonesia

Cynthia Soares, counselor, California

Jose Soriano, teacher, Dominican Republic

Marianne Solomon K. Stewart, New Mexico teacher

Lian Tang, Yellow Sheep River Foundation, China, philanthropist

Dema Tshering, teacher, Bhutan

Maypale thwe, teacher, Burma

Grant Turner, teacher, Hawaii

Priya Vijayan, teacher Austalia

Linda Wagener, teacher, China

Wayen, teacher, Indonesia

Yuan Wang, college student, China

Katy Warren, California

Sam Weaver, founder of Sit Diary website

David Wraight, British church leader

Carleen Wray, Assistant director, Students Against Violence Everywhere

Lena Yeremyan, teacher, Armenia

Cheol Yu, school adminstrator, South Korea



Chinese: Dan Yang, Zhengrong Zhu, Xiaojiao Li, Qingqing Li, Fangyuan Cheng, Fang Zhang, Yan Liu, Man Zhang, Wang Yuan

German: Ursula Rabe, Daniel Lassotta

Spanish: Mariaxa Pinto, Maria Gonzales

French: Sandine

Japanese: Akemi Sato, Helen Ito

Portuguese: Christine Daran

Punjabi: Dalbir Singh


Survey Data Processing & SPSS

Luna Katayama, Steve Kellam, David Philhour

A Teenager Explains Enlightenment

A Japanese Zen master by the name of Nan-in once entertained a professor who came seeking knowledge of enlightenment.  As they sat, Nan-in served the professor tea, and as the cup reached its fill, Nan-in continued to pour, until there was a small puddle on the table.  The professor expostulated, “It is overfull. No more will go in!” The Zen master replied, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations.  How can we discuss enlightenment unless you first empty your cup?”

   I have come to the realization that, in order for me to better understand enlightenment, I too must first empty my cup.  I must throw away my preconceptions.  As always, they serve no purpose, and act only as a limitation. Life is suffering.  This is the first of Buddha‘s Four Noble Truths.  Human nature is rife with imperfections, as is the world we live in.  We encounter fear, frustration, sadness, depression, and inevitable death.  No one’s skin is impervious; we are all subject to the empty feeling of someone looking right through us.  Of course there is also good in this world.  Namely, comfort, love and friendship, but in its entirety, life is an incomplete mess.  It will remain this way until we finally end our self-centered desire.

   The origin of suffering is attachment.  This is the second of the Four Noble Truths.  As long as we crave impermanent objects, we will continue to be blinded by their unneeded promise of fulfillment.  Unfortunately, the loss of such objects is inevitable, and upon their departure, suffering will occur.  We cling to what we now refer to as “self.”  One’s sense of separate self is an illusion; we are all intact within the universe.  “Self” is little more than a bag of skin and bones.  

   The cessation of suffering is attainable. This is the third of Four Noble Truths. Suffering can be ended by attaining a state of dispassionate tranquility.  The cause of suffering is attachment, so why not annihilate that cause?  Because it is fu—– hard!  The process of eliminating desire is a many-leveled one, as there are countless possibilities for attachment.  Consequently, few ever truly achieve nirvana.  Nirvana is freedom from angst, complexes, and ideas.  It is incomprehensible for those who have not yet achieved it.

   The Buddhist path to cessation of suffering is eight-fold: correct thought, correct speech, correct actions, correct livelihood, correct understanding, correct effort, correct mindfulness, and correct concentration. One must follow this path.  It may last many lifetimes, and it may consume one’s every waking moment, but as one continues down this path, gradually, ignorance, delusion, desire, and eventually suffering will all disappear. This is the fourth of Four Noble Truths.

   Do not liken enlightenment to a religious awakening.  It is anything but that.  It is not an answer, for there is no question. To be enlightened is to see past right and wrong, to surpass the notion of correctness entirely. It goes beyond belief.  Religion is temporary by nature, ever changing to suit its recipients. Unlike religion, enlightenment is not characterized as the pursuit of finding meaning, answers, and purpose.  It is the pursuit of rising above that. Purpose is a path worn out by humanity’s pointless striving for a definition. The need for either of those two terms, purpose or definition, is obsolete.

   Enlightenment is a possibility for everyone. Many believe that only Buddhists strive for it, but this is untrue. An example of this is Walt Whitman in the 19th century, a new poet of a country in need of a new voice. Being enlightened is to recognize that we are of the earth, not from it. It is the grasping of the concept that the highest mountains of Tibet are somehow connected to the small stream outside your window. The entire universe is intact.  How could it be otherwise?

   I, unfortunately, am still asleep, literally or not. I perceive only what’s in front of me. I judge what I don’t know; yet I remain without curiosity towards that which I judge. I exist only to survive, partake in meaningless activities that serve as nothing more than distractions. I eat, drink and sleep. I guess love too, but it means nothing. I am still searching.  It is the rise above that search that is truly significant. Josh Allerd, 17, m, California

Iceland Member of Parliament, 25, female

Ásta G. Helgadóttir

Age: 25

Former occupation: Student, and then working for the Democratic Society and The Tactical Tech Collective

Favourite band of the moment: “I don’t listen to music.”

Favourite book: Currently, ‘The Book Thief’. Otherwise I’m a boring Harry Potter fan.

Political “hero”: “The Suffragettes, Sylvia Pankhurst and others. They were basically punks that made a statement about women’s suffrage rights.”

Favourite Reykjavík swimming pool: Vesturbæjarlaug

Top 3 problems that we most urgently need to solve in Iceland:

  1. Figure out what to do with the fact that we now own two banks, instead of just one, and what we’re going to do with it.
  2. We also need to have a broad discussion about the future of the Icelandic króna and its sustainability as a currency if we’re going to move away from capital controls.
  3. Fix the constitution.

“I started in Icelandic politics in 2013,” says Ásta, sitting in the Pirate Party office on the nearby Austurstræti. “I’d been following what happened after the crash in 2008. A lot of kids were pretty disengaged, I don’t think they realised the seriousness of it—at least amongst my peers, I was the only one who was following it. But in 2013 the Pirate Party came along. The freedom of information aspect attracted me—I’m very much against censorship.”

One idea being mooted at the time was the blocking of porn sites in Iceland, which set alarm bells ringing for Ásta. “According to Icelandic law, pornography is illegal,” she says. “It’s a law from the 19th century, and it hasn’t been enforced for fifteen years now. Then the idea of building a ‘pornography shield’ around Iceland came up. And I thought, ‘No, you can’t do that! It’s censorship!’ And they were like, ‘No, it’s not censorship, we’re thinking about the children!’”

“The Pirate Party is trying to infiltrate the system and change these ‘heritage laws,’” she continues, “because when you read a law, you have to understand the root of that law—when was it written, what was the context, and the culture. And now we’re in the 21st century, with the internet, which changes everything.”

Ásta is a keen study of Icelandic political history, talking in broad strokes about the country’s traditional social conservatism and market liberalism, the historical legacy of the powerful farming and fishing lobbies, and ongoing debates in everything from censorship to industrial reform.

“Iceland is an unusual place, politically speaking,” she says. “There’s a void in Icelandic politics when it comes to liberal parties. In Denmark and Sweden, there are many liberal parties, so there is less space for a Pirate Party. They have parties that are consistently liberal, and have been since the ‘60s. There’s a reason Denmark was the first country to legalise porn in 1969. In Iceland there’s a lot of social conservatism, even though people want to be libertarians as far as the market, etcetera. What the Pirates are trying to do is more of social liberalism.”

She pauses, stressing her next point word by word. “We don’t want to micro-manage the market, but my way of thinking is: first we want to protect the individual; then the society; and then the market. If a policy protects the market, but is not good for the society or the individual, then in my view it’s a bad policy.”

And this is one area where the touchstone Pirate issue of transparency comes to the fore. “As a party, our platform has been evolving, and is still evolving,” says Ásta. “Our core policies are moral and ethical guidelines about how we want to function as a party. Explaining for example, what transparency is—it’s something we can apply to governments or institutions. Individuals are not transparent—me for example, you cannot apply transparency to me. But you can apply it to my work as a legislator. Public figures are also individuals, and therefore have a right to privacy.”

We know where you live

In practice, protecting individual rights is a thornier, more difficult task than it might seem. The joins between Iceland’s traditional, sometimes antique civil infrastructure

Hacking Politics: An In-Depth Look At Iceland’s Pirate Party


Words by

John Rogers



Photos by

Hörður Sveinsson

Anna Domnick

Published November 19, 2015

Saudi Critique of Western Media

ASaudi young woman posted on a Wadja YouTube site, “I am REALLY worried about the OPPRESSION of young Western girls and their media-stuffed minds with psychological problems, eating disorders, poor self-image, lack of respect for parents and teachers. Out of the kindness of my heart I’m going to start an aid fund and get all my Saudi girls to donate to this fantastic cause. Let’s help raise the spirituality and self-confidence of these girls so they don’t all end up believing you have to strip down and show your bony bits to be something.”[i]


More US women students plan on graduate degrees than men

In the UCLA CIRP annual national survey of college freshmen, the 2014 students were much more likely to plan on getting a graduate degree (44%) than previously, with women more likely to plan on continuing after the bachelor’s degree (36% vs. 29% of men).

“The American Freshman,” UCLA Higher Education Research Institute, February 2015.

Click to access TheAmericanFreshman2014.pdf

Cuban Youth Issues

(This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT articles CubaNews has translated in a

very long time. It deals with one of this country’s greatest challenges today:

youth alienation and the desire for quick, easy, magical and sometimes illegal

ways of confronting the economic challenges of the moment. This is a reality

I’ve observed almost every day on this visit, and it isn’t something brand new.


(Some foreign leftists tend to discount stories of youth alienation when they

appear in the capitalist news media. This is in a major Cuban magazine and

its target audience is the youth of today’s Cuba. Please read this carefully.

Another similar article from the same SOMOS JOVENIS will be out shortly.)





Wasted…to no Avail


Within Cuban society, especially among the younger generations, there are latent tendencies to apathy and lack of motivation. These are triggers for the demolition of life projects and the destruction of personal futures, both material and spiritual.


By: Javier Gómez Lastra
March 13, 2015 

Silhouettes of young people with question marks

As usual, Juan Carlos, Jorge and Rachel wake up late in the morning –at noon or in the afternoon perhaps– because they normally stay up late between dominoes, music and drinks; celebrating who knows what, along with other neighborhood friends.

Nothing brings them out of their daily routine linked to leisure. Neither study nor the need to feel useful in a job goes through the minds of these three young people, used to laziness.

They are full of needs. Living in a small room on the verge of collapse located in the neighborhood of Luyanó, they survive in the most precarious conditions in the company of their mother: a nurse with many years of experience but devoid of motivation.

Nevertheless, the main shortcoming of these teenagers is the lack of accurate guidance in their lives.

Juan Carlos, the firstborn, has been waiting for two years for the possible “claim” from his father that “would put him on board a plane to go north”; Jorge, the one in the middle, fantasizes about a job “with little to do and a good chance to make money”; while Rachel hopes to find a Prince Charming “from abroad” that would give her the life of a queen.

However, all three agree on something: they are determined not to work for the state for a simple salary; because any business brings in more money than spending the whole month working in a factory, and in the end what you get paid is not enough. In their view to do that is to sacrifice for nothing. 

And as they wait for the smiling future to come to them, life goes by in front of their eyes. They have no sense of time lost, work, education, and responsibility. They live in an existential vacuum linked to the lack of horizons and disappointment since they don´t try to do something useful.

In the struggle


The deep economic crisis of the early 90s of last century affected almost all the families in the island, and brought all kinds of material and spiritual changes among the people.

The new style of coping with everyday existence was dubbed “the struggle”. It describes the legal and illegal mechanisms designed to cope with the drastic decline in living standards. There were many urgent readjustments families had to make in order to survive and these included substantial alterations in their way of thinking and acting which were imposed by the prevailing harsh reality.

Silhouettes of young people with bubbles

Psychologist Elaine Morales Chuco, specialist with the Instituto Cubano de Investigación Cultural Juan Marinello [Cuban Institute for Cultural Research Juan Marinello], in conversation with Somos Jóvenes, explained that some of the features resulting from exposure to this situation in adolescents and young people, were unemployment, dropping out of school, criminal behavior and migration in search of bigger and better opportunities.

”The reduction or disappearance of access to formal spaces,” explained the expert, “such as jobs and state-sponsored educational and recreational centers generated the move of many young people to the socio-cultural world of the street. This, in turn, resulted in the creation of a vicious circle that only brought greater difficulties.”

”At the same time, the situation broke the link –which had existed until then– between education and working conditions; that is, the chain: instruction-occupation-income dissipated because there was a proliferation of work proposals that did not require a high educational level, but did offer attractive incomes.”

”It should be added that this combination of elements individually and collectively impacted their vision and interpretation of reality, and many individuals did not hesitate to take on new strategies in order to solve everyday economic demands which could not be postponed.”

”Thus, many Cubans learned to live for the moment, the uncertainty and with very little chance to develop solid life projects.”

”Likewise, their aspirations of material wellbeing in many cases could not be satisfied by the previously generally accepted mechanism (study-work-pay). Therefore new ways emerged –some formally promoted, and others informally, or even illegal such as the activities of the underground economy. A number of sources of income and immediate benefit were welcomed regardless whether they were associated with prostitution, pimping, begging, drug abuse or crime.”

”Other behaviors stigmatized until then –like not being involved with study and work, felonies, or other such behaviors– gradually stopped receiving all the rejection they deserved, and within some social groups they gained a certain degree of approval that legitimized them. Meanwhile the coexistence rules present in other times were challenged,” said Elaine, author of the study: “Marginalization of Adolescents and Young Persons: An Analysis in Cuba.”


I got tired of being without money

Finding alternatives to address their economic needs became a major concern. This began to occupy a prominent place in Cuban daily life since the crisis began.

Amid these conditions, many young people took the strategy of migrating to provincial capitals in the country, or abroad.  Selectivity of employment increased and many did not perform the job for which they were trained in their studies but did something else that could guarantee higher pay and better conditions to the detriment of personal motivations.

Numerous production or informal services became acceptable, because they brought better revenue.

Silhouettes of women working.


However, both economic sectors (formal and informal) have advantages and disadvantages, regardless of the will to be linked to one or the other.

Among the advantages associated with formal employment is the way in which individuals are inserted into and integrated into society, and the potential for instructional upgrading and the diversity of perspectives offered to do so. Work linked to the state entails a level of security and stability that had been traditionally associated with the guarantee of salary and social security with retirement pensions for years of service, age or health conditions. 

The main disadvantages of this sector are: income limitations that do not offer adequate compensation given the demands and responsibilities; lack of material stimulation; controls to which the worker is subjected; rigid schedules and inadequate conditions for the performance of the tasks in the job.

The prerogatives attributed to informal work are especially related to income and prospects to meet shortages. This is more stimulating for the workers. These jobs also appear to provide more independence; have less control; and have fewer requirements; schedules are more flexible and there is more free time. However, they also maintain a certain social pressure because of the illegal status of some activities and the source of resources. 

With a fuming head

The employment problem of young people is, in the current conditions of the country, another very complex and controversial issue. However, work continues to play a key role in structuring the country’s institutions and the lives of individuals, according to María Josefa Luis Luis, historian and researcher at the Centro de Estudios Sobre la Juventud [Center for Studies on Youth], in her analysis “Considerations on Work Socialization.”

She explains that “irregularities in the labor market, unemployment and underemployment rates, as well as instability and precarious working conditions are realities faced by workers around the world. For young people, these abnormalities affect personal development and conceptions about work. Although the traditional model (livelihood, rights, moral responsibility, sense of accomplishment) is valid for most, in practice it is very difficult or impossible to attain for a good number of them.”

”In Cuba, there are numerous contradictions related to employment that significantly damage employment relations and the role of these as an effective means of socialization and education of the new generations.”

”The economic crisis eroded the material and technological foundation of the workplace due to the lack of means of work, or the obsolescence of others. The rules of organization, protection and hygiene, individual and collective productivity, as well as work motivation, were affected.”

”This, in turn, had an impact on individual expectations and possibilities for job satisfaction, as well as contributions and income. It generated frustration and dissatisfaction and reduced job stability.”

 Silhouettes of happy young people
Salsa, greenbacks, and beer 

The slogan promoted years ago by a domestic soap opera is a way of thinking for some Cubans for whom life is perennial leisure. They don’t realize the damage this ideology of leisure can cause.

It also indicates the boasting of a supposedly superior status, based on the myth of money, and encourages reaching that level at any price. It becomes a philosophy of lack of interest and apathy that dangerously gains ground.

Young people are a highly impressionable group, ready to make changes in search of better educational opportunities, more access to culture and employment, among other factors. In this regard, it is essential to know the expectations they have, as well as their ability to make plans and realize them under current conditions.

To meet those material goals or aspirations is not a subject for reproach. On the contrary, to live without them –doing nothing to achieve them– means a real problem, or extremely harmful conflict from a spiritual point of view.

We must not clip the wings of those who have aspirations and wish to embrace them. On the contrary, we should lead them to the realization of their goals, always on the right track; since the key issue is related to the methods or the means chosen in order to achieve these objectives.

When there is no experience, going off the right track to achieve success can be easy and have negative consequences that would last a lifetime. We must encourage and guide young people based on sound principles, openly, without reservations or fear of sacrifice, always aided by study and honest work.

The lack of real joy, in the short and medium terms, makes a dent in young people who are vulnerable to the frustration caused by repetitive promises of a bright future, in contradiction to what they live from day to day, suffering disappointment at not being able to see the announced steps to progress.

We must insist on the need of work as the only force capable of promoting development as well as personal and national prosperity. This should go hand in hand with the correct instruction, regardless of the path they wish to follow.

The family, considered the primordial cell of society, is responsible –in the first instance– for instilling the true values of honesty and diligence. Only in this way can apathy and lack of interest be eradicated. We all have an impact on this through daily example and confrontation of misconducts.

Cuba’s national hero, Jose Marti taught us: “Being educated is the only way to be free”. Under this strategy we must guide the formation of the people and especially of the new generations.

This objective should have children and young people as their fundamental targets so we can all embrace a prosperous future; so that the efforts and dedication of those who work for such a future is not wasted  or to no avail.
Several authors. Lecturas de la realidad juvenil cubana a principios del siglo XXI. [Readings about the Reality of Cuban Youth the Early 21st Century] Centro de Estudios Sobre la Juventud, 2011.