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EL ESPECTADOR

The Broken Rules Of Our Modern World, A Brief Manifesto

Modern life, with its rules and material rewards, has robbed people of the most basic sense of happiness. What do we have to lose by ridding ourselves of so many imposed ideas?

Hanging on in Bogota
Hanging on in Bogota
Fernando Aráujo Vélez

-OpEd-

BOGOTA — Let's face it, all is lost. Though perhaps we could recover something today, if only we could understand that everything is, well, all but lost.

We might win a little something back if we could understand and convey to others that humanity has failed, that the thousands of manuals we created and all the blood and fire were just to safeguard our privileges, or the privileges of some. We might save something if we realize we have been ruined for allowing our lives to be filled with instructions and impositions, and that in allowing this we have created our current predicament — an era dominated by lies: about homelands and democracy, religion, money, public office and rewards.

Or maybe we could redeem ourselves if we could see what really matters in life and understand that having ideals doesn't make us silly or naive. We should understand that two dreamers can generally attain a great dream, but that two materialists can only create more stuff, so familiar to us all.

We could salvage something if we could rescue the little things, if instead of accumulating accounts, numbers and diplomas, we start accumulating sensations and admit that a kiss, a gaze, a smile and a few short silences are worth more than bills, notes and four-by-fours. If we understand that feeling and living are one thing, and boasting, quite another.

What we can choose

Or if we could descend from our pedestal, stop judging others and their work, and understand that there is no better or worse, just different. Or look at ourselves in the mirror and become naked to ourselves, and there, without witnesses, affirm the little things about ourselves we find embarassing, destroy some of our prejudices and convince ourselves that everything can change.

We should understand that because we did not choose to be born at this particular time, we are somehow entitled to contravene the laws and norms imposed by others. Like that character in a novel who formally renounced humanity before the United Nations.

We could save a little of what's left if we decide we'd rather love and fight than cling to power. We're always doing something, are we not? Creating, building, tolerating, risking and always playing to win? We could accept and even come to love what makes us different, and see that fashions are an assault on these differences, and on authenticity. Extreme friendliness is an extreme disguise, and differences are what save us from the alienation that the media and a few tycoons are imposing on us.

Something may still be saved if we assume that to feel is not a weakness. Humankind is ultimately far more of a struggle with loneliness and joy, happiness and love, pain and anguish, our urges and passion — than with politics, nations, borders, cars, football and business.

We may surely save something of this great wreck if we decide to rid ourselves of so many defensive layers, which instead of protecting us, have become our heaving armor of formulas and fear.

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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