Consider baking soda and vinegar. With these two simple one-ingredient products, we can accomplish one hundred and thirty-one household tasks. They're inexpensive and commonplace, yet powerfully effective and useful. Consider aloe vera, a common household plant. The inner fillet of the plant can be used for over thirty tasks.
Just this past weekend I was dealing with some chemical dust on my hands that had them painfully dry and peeling. I went into the bathroom at my parents' house and looked for some oil to put on my hands. Among fifteen different soaps, ten or more lotions, among the shaving creams, the sunblocks, the cosmetics – there was no oil. Frustrated, I went to the kitchen. Ah! There I could find some pure olive oil.
My husband's stomach was upset. He thought psyllium husk would help. Back down to my parents' kitchen. My parents were sure they had psyllium husk. But they didn't. They had several different "blends" of things that included psyllium husk but also contained toxic fillers such as maltodextrin.
These two little instances helped personalize a very global concern. Patent laws. It is because of our attitude and practices around "trade secrets" that everything has to be made out of a "special blend." Clothing made up of 100% cotton, linen or wool are being replaced by trademark blends of viscose, polyester and cotton. Yet polyester is a plastic that contains hormones that disrupt human health, especially for women.
Many of these "special blends" in cosmetics, clothing, and foods do something very special indeed. Some are hiding powerful trade secrets that really make the product shine. Others are only special because of how much they're charging you.
Patent laws were originally created to protect the individual or company that developed an idea from having their idea stolen to the profit of other people or companies. This makes sense if you subscribe to a worldview of separateness, theft, defensiveness, all-men-are-islands, and corporatism. Yet this era is coming to a close. This era has no choice to implode, because a capitalistic model of infinite growth and ever expanding profit margins eventually runs out of things to devour besides itself. Chronic consumption is for the empty.
We're not empty. We're full of life, ideas, and creativity. Our beautiful species is blessed with incredible intuition, knowledge, talents, and skills.
If humanity is so rich, what is holding us back?
What is holding us back now is how tightly we're holding our cards to our chests — our fear of telling our neighbor that our favorite frozen food is on clearance at the local store, because word might spread and then there might not be enough for us — our fear of spreading joyful news, lest other people believe we have too much and want to ask too much from us — our fear of offering what we can give freely and easily because we won't know how to say no when they do ask too much — our fear that there isn't enough for everyone and so we have to stockpile our ideas, resources, friends, and family and jealously hold them close — it is these fears holding us back from fully realizing our potential on this planet today.
There is enough for everyone. It is mathematically proven that there is enough food produced in a tropical forest roughly 200 miles by 200 miles across to feed everyone on the planet. (Actually, some calculations say a much, much smaller area. You can learn more on this subject here.)
People don't starve because there isn't enough food. People starve because of other people's fear of there not being enough.
When tribes war with each other because they're afraid there isn't enough, resources are put into making war instead of education, food production and recreation.
When people are really afraid that there isn't enough, when they hold very jealously onto every resource they can grasp, they become highly destructive. Like when foreign settlers arrive on a tropical coast and cut down all the breadfruit trees in order to make the natives dependent on outside resources.
We've never been short on resources.
Imagine if all the software companies gave their code away to each other for free. Imagine if all the video game companies let each other use the art their artists had created. Imagine if all the car companies got together to design the best car for the planet and for the human, and didn't worry at all about the profit margin. Imagine if all the best professors in the world put out their talks freely on youtube instead of just exclusively at specific universities. Imagine if all books were available as free e-books. Imagine if the profit motive vanished, patent law vanished . . . Within a few years we'd have every home on solar/wind/water power. We'd start focusing on making the best ingredients – the best organic cotton (instead of GMO, pesticide-laden cotton), the best oils (instead of rancid oils that sit on the shelves for months and months exposed to heat and light before they're purchased), the most dynamic games, the most streamlined software, and the most efficient vehicles.
We're wired for survival, so of course our minds are wired to identify problems. When we feel fear or pain, we immediately try to find the source problem. Then we avidly seek to avoid this problem in the future. Unfortunately – for our entire species – we often experienced the biggest pain and fear as a child from lacking something we desperately needed. Perhaps we needed more love, or more nourishment, or more attention, or more empathic teachers, or more protection. Whatever it is was, we decided at that young age that lacking something was a major threat to survival. Therefore, we had to hoard whatever came to us.
To further complicate this psychological trend, it was discovered in the early 1900s that this fear of not-enough-ness could be manipulated. It was first used to manipulate the populace during times of war, but later the same techniques were used in marketing. The simple principle is to find out what you’re lacking emotionally and propose the product as a remedy, or, failing that, to generate a sense of lack in you. This latter technique is especially dangerous.
This fear operates subconsciously in subtle ways, as well as consciously and overtly. It creates wars, and elects people who chronically represent this fear. This fear causes parents and society at large to imbue the next generation with this same fear, and so the cycle repeats through the millennia.
How can we counteract the fear driving our secretive culture?
Instead of copyrighting – copyleft. A copyleft protects a product or idea from being copyrighted, while leaving the source open to everyone.
Instead of holding your cards close, share with others the most remarkable discoveries in your life.
Practice consciousness alchemy.
Vote with your dollars and don't settle for poor quality blends of two dozen ingredients.
Go back to simple products like baking soda, vinegar and oil – at least twenty of your household products can be replaced by these three.
Drink more water and eat a hydrating diet – being dehydrated (which most people are) means that your body is in a physical state of lack which will translate to a fear of lack subconsciously which will lead to decisions that seem consciously rational, but are actually rationalized, fear-based decisions.
Become informed about innovative ways to better your life and the planet simultaneously. For example, check out these videos.
Spread the word: there is enough for everyone.