How to fix it in 10 easy steps / by Mirena Rhee

I have identified 10 easy steps that we, together, can fix this country.

Fix yourself first

The president is just one guy - I know, he’s probably a powerful guy but just one guy what is he gonna do?

Be your own president.

I personally promise to hang onto every idea and whim that crosses my mind. To indulge in frivolous speculation and to use words from different languages in one sentence.  I am interested in answers not much contrived, genuine things and fools persistent in their folly.

Number two

Stop asking people to identify themselves with their genitalia. Unless you are of course asking them out. I call this the Minds over Matter, Wits over Bums rule.

We are products of our desires, or what Joseph Campbell calls the "the zeal of the organs for each other"

I was lucky enough to spend 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and consider it one of the most progressive areas in the world today.  It is absolutely no coincidence that apple, google were formed there.

Our identity, and sexual identity in particular, is central to our being and how we operate in the world. We embark on many quests and gender is one such a quest.

But it should remain a personal pursuit and should not be a corporation's or our government's business who we go to bed with.

If a corporation  or the government requires you to specify your gender identity this is the vulgar equivalent of it pulling your pants down to check on the shape and form of your genitalia.

Number three

Stop all the cooking on television, replace kitchen cabinets with bookshelves. Eat very simple meals once or twice a day and thus gain several hours of fresh and productive life every day..

The amount of media devoted to cutting, mashing, pulverizing ingredients into the most time consuming elaborate time wasting of endless devouring, then washing dishes and shopping again in $70k kitchens, this cancer of endless cooking on TV is just killing us. Buy Buy eat repeat.

We have millions of animals suffer and have horrible lives so we can have extra 2000 calories while sitting on the couch and moving from there to the car - to the chair at work - it's not that modern supermarkets don't have 40,000 items to eat to choose from.


And number four is...

Eliminate the shopping cart ( except for disabled people of course ). You get whatever you can carry.

( below ) The Aboubakar family of Darfur province, Sudan, in front of their tent in the Breidjing Refugee Camp, in eastern Chad, with a weeks worth of food. DÕjimia Ishakh Souleymane, 40, holds her daughter Hawa, 2; the other children are (left to right) Acha, 12, Mariam, 5, Youssouf, 8, and Abdel Kerim, 16. Cooking method: wood fire. Food preservation: natural drying. Favorite foodÑDÕjimia: soup with fresh sheep meat. /// The Aboubakar family is one of the thirty families featured in the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (p. 56). Food expenditure for one week: $1.23 USD. (Please refer to Hungry Planet book p. 57 for the familyÕs detailed food list.)

( below ) Ottersland Dahl family, of Gjettum, Norway (outside Oslo). Gunhild Valle Ottersland, 45, shopping for weekly groceries. Model-Released.

( above ) Nalim and NamgayÕs family of Bhutan, with all of their possessions. From pages 72-73, Material World. The family of subsistence farmers lives in a 3-story rammed-earth house in the hillside village of Shingkhey, Bhutan. {{Family members are: Namgay (50, family patriarch and husband of Nalim), Nalim (47, family matriarch and wife of Namgay), Kinley (17, son of Namgay and Nalim), Bangam (also called Kinley, 14, daughter of Nalim and Namgay), Zekom (2, daughter of Nalim and Namgay), Sangay, (29, daughter of Nalim and Namgay and wife of Sangay Kandu), Sangay Kandu (33, husband of Sangay), Choeden (9, daughter of Sangay Kandu and Sangay), Chato Namgay (7, son of Sangay Kandu and Sangay), Sangay Zam (5, daughter of Sangay Kandu and Sangay), Chato Geltshin (3, son of Sangay Kandu and Sangay), Tandin Geltshin (2, son of Sangay Kandu and Sangay), Kinley Dorji, (61, unmarried brother of Nalim). Nalim and her daughter Sangay work as partnersÑthey take turns caring for the children and working in their mustard, rice, and wheat fields. SangayÕs husband Sangay Kandu does the plowing of the family fields but Sangay and Nalim do the planting and harvesting. Namgay, who has a hunched back and a clubfoot, grinds grain for neighbors with a small mill his family purchased from the government. They are paying for the mill as they canÑoften the payment is made in grain and mustard oil. Namgay is also a reader of sacred texts and conducts house cleansing and healing ceremonies for their 14-house village. From Peter MenzelÕs Material World Project that showed 30 statistically average families in 30 countries with all their possessions.}}

The Material World books changed my life and how I see the world and i could never unsee the photographs in them  - they were done before google gave us insight into people's lives.  I always found it very weird and felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have in stores - they say the average amount of products in your average grocery store is 40,000 items. The normality of this escapes me - to quote the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"Five to one against and falling..." she said, "four to one against and falling...three to factor of one to one...we have normality, I repeat we have normality." She turned her microphone off—then turned it back on, with a slight smile and continued: "Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem."

Hungry Planet:

Material World:

a present in the form of a thought experiment and the number five in how to fix it

To me any shard that sparkles is just like any other shard that sparkles, they may or may not have previously been beer bottles. We haven't solved many of our problems efficiently but it seems a lot of carbon shards I have seen in New York are better taken care of than many humans. We need to cut the shard loose.

And always wondered why is that the case? How has this particular shard captured our imagination. Who wants it? I mean it used to be that shards indicated status, and status served to preserve social order for the better and calm of society. Now that we have publicly funded institutions in place to do that i think we need to release the shards from that duty. They are somewhat pretty but not in my mind pretty enough do deserve more than a days wage. If i see a shard decorated individual of course i am not going to think more or less of them on account of the shards. So what is it?

And number five is…

5. Cut the diamond shops loose and have free computer and learning places in there instead for people to go get free education.

What I see here is nothing more or less than polished pebbles just like any other polished pebbles and I am not gonna argue with anyone over it, I am just not going to ever bring it up again. I could see a ceremonial use for it when dancing in circles for rain for example and just for kicks but to have these shards take prominence or precedence is a waste of space - imagine if in our minds and hearts actual valuable things take place like learning how to break the speed of light, maybe instead of toiling for rocks we can toil the genome or figure out how to break out of gravity and get on real voyages and real far.

In case you need to perform a shamanic ritual and need to decorate yourself in crystals, or have gotten a job as a shaman and need to sew these into your uniform or headdress - I know a great shop in the garment district that has a million dollar necklace they sell for 25 bucks.

And number six is…

We get rid of all couches, better yet - throw them out together with all televisions. What's with the couch you say, poor thing hasn't done a thing against this nation.

The thing with the couch is easy - every second we spend on the couch we are not spending chasing our dreams. Or biking our neighborhood or talking to our neighbors or making extra cash for the trip around the world we have been dreaming of.

The dynasties of the world love the couch because when we are chained to it we are easily seduced to live vicariously through other people's triumphs.  They setup various circuses like politics, olympics and reality shows and thus inject us with the emotions and experiences of people we have never met.

The added bonus of selling the couch is now we can do cartwheels in the living room and probably wholelotta more fun stuff without fearing falling off the lumpy..

And number seven is…

7. Cut the lawn...

as in for you who do not get the pun - eliminate this useless waste of green space, plant a forest instead or see below for more suggestions. I have even seen people raking leaves which to me is as useless as trying to fix the leaves back to the tree.

Imagine the entirety of this nation gets busy cutting useless weeds for a couple of hours every weekend - we can figure out practical fusion propulsion if the same amount of resources was applied to doing science.

The solution - either plant something useful like fruits or vegetables and take care of them instead, get a robot ( pictured below) or get goats ( the African kind ).

number eight is the magic number

Let’s free the world of the handbag, I never understood how such a thing is useful, or rather, how such a thing is more useful than, say, a plastic bag.

I call these sacks with straps because most bags are meant eventually to be handled with a hand, hence the handles. What i do not understand is why these sacks take up so much space in manhattan where we presumably don’t have much space anyway, and even in winter they sit well protected by the elements while homeless people lie outside on the sidewalk.

I do not understand how come we have rovers on Mars but prize these sacks so highly in the ladder of worthiness of things.


I started with the self and i am gonna end the essay with the self.

And number nine is believe in yourself first. The first thing you should believe in is yourself.

I know from the very beginning we were taught how and what to believe in. We believe in good things and bad things. The problem is good things turn to bad things and vice versa.

We believe in democracy, we believe in God - nice things. The even bigger problem is people tell us what to believe in all the time. Remember that a few guys out there taught us to believe in black holes and no one has even seen one. I am just making a joke here, I love science and the science of space, it is epic. But I am just saying - to prove the point that we are very susceptible to influence. I am not saying you should touch a black hole to believe in it, all I am saying is - use the one non-black hole on your shoulders often and mostly to believe in the one undeniable thing - yourself.

The last one - number ten - is the most important one

Think for yourself first. I know this one is hard.

For centuries people found comfort and security in being told what to think. Peoples have been thinking the thoughts of kings and queens, the thoughts of their masters, the town elders , the pharaohs, the priests ( don't get me wrong I am religious but I argue and think about my religion and don't you ever take that from me).  For if there's a great gift that the French gave to the world it is the opinion of the common man … aka you.

When I open a newspaper it is as if we never went through the Enlightenment. It is full of guided content and regurgitated narratives of sex, guns, and money. No one ever tells you that the most important thing that you own, apart from your good health and the proper function of all your organs, is your ability to think independently. And the second thing is your ability to express and argue your opinion in public. These were the two Dreams of the Enlightenment.

In his Essay What Is Enlightenment? Kant defines Enlightenment as  "man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance." For his  second dream he says "the public use of one's reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment to mankind."

Once you have traded your goods and services, obtained lodging and food, secured your home, sturdied your frame and medicated your body, feel free to use the greatest gift you may ever have, free thought.

I personally find thinking very pleasant, I quite love it, second only to chocolate ice cream.