The Mistaken Rumour About Victims

unique-characters-wooden-background-inclusion-concept

They tell you these days that certain types of people are predestined to be victims… Apparently explaining something… Victimized as the geeky kid, the odd one in the group…

But look closely, because: How large is the group, really?

How many make a lot of noise and chase, and how many don’t say anything, at all?

You will find the numbers at odds, too:
The majority – or rather the ‘loud’ ones – often are only those that fit into the ‘official picture’ that is prominent at a point in time.

During the 1960s and 1970s in Europe a new generation had raised an idea and made part of popular culture, what now has become part of marketing:

Dare to think different.

The previous generations had – often just by not caring – allowed millions of people be killed in two world wars that were actually ‘good’ for a few only, the rich, the wealthy – and the conglomerates.

Later, as I mentioned, until well into the 1980s, being careful, considerate and kind was actually ‘en vogue’.

These days it seems, it is ‘en vogue’ again, to be rich and famous…

But, and here comes the ‘but’: Is it really?

Are all those people who do no agree with these ideas but keep quiet, perhaps the ‘silent majority’?

If that is true, we should rethink the currently prominent idea of the ‘victim’, because that concept is the ‘devil an’ all’:

It blames the victims for being victims!

It aquits the real culprits from all responsibility: “I couldn’t help doing it, they are that type…”

It is important to have rules in a community to prevent harm, or even crime done!
In that respect we need to observe such rules, each and everyone.

Other than that, conformity can create mindless and even heartless human beings who live ‘exclusively’, instead of ‘inclusively’.

Perhaps people teasing and torturing others are the culprits, after all?

The Miracle of Human Understanding

group of people and coloured arrows showing speech direction

Most of us past teenage years have seen and experienced misunderstandings. Some can be tragic, some can seem funny even, looking back, some are funny – and some are rather mundane, really.

What can make it difficult can be situations such as the following, a nice example I came across the other day, paraphrased here:

A group of people were scheduled for a training of communication. Everybody arrived in time, wore casual clothing as per agenda and was quite relaxed, chatting and waiting for the training to begin. A little while into the day’s itinerary, a young man who everybody had been wondering about, arrived far too late. He was very quiet, wore a business suit that obviously had been expensive and showed a rather withdrawn behaviour.

The group decided that he seemed rather arrogant and they felt annoyed and treated with a lack of basic politeness.

It took a while to find out that he had been to a funeral, unexpectedly and of a close person and barely had found time to arrive at all…

This little anecdote makes it clear nicely how easily unrelated events can be made into a chain of misunderstanding.

Keeping an open mind and realizing that our interpretations can be wrong in spite of appearances can be the first step towards real understanding.

Mark Twain – Adam’s Diary – ‘The Garden without Eve?’ – An Extract….

wooden bridge among pink blossomed trees

Mark Twain, US-American literature’s founder he is called by many: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are the most famous of his books, Huckleberry Finn indeed being considered the beginning of the ‘American voice’. He was a man of all trades for a long time, Mark Twain, his stage name and pseudonym, being taken from his, Samuel L. Clemens’, favourite trade he learned before turning to ‘newspapering’:

‘Ol Man River’ Mississippi’s ships’ pilots and their calls: The Mississippi is known for many shoals and sandbanks with very low water above them. A pilot on that river would traditionally know these places by heart, interpret every gleam and slight ripple of waves on its surface, and call water depths to the captain when lowering the sounding lead into the treacherous waters:
“Mark Twain” being the call for 2 fathoms (12 feet) of water below the ship’s keel and thus:
Safe going.

This is one of his wonderful quotes I’d like to put here, from Extracts from Adam’s Diary, for all men who doubt it, even at work… The Garden without Eve?

‘Tongue in cheek’ I post it here…

“TEN YEARS LATER.—They are boys; we found it out long ago. It was their coming in that small immature shape that puzzled us; we were not used to it. There are some girls now. Abel is a good boy, but if Cain had stayed a bear it would have improved him. After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. At first I thought she talked too much; but now I should be sorry to have that voice fall silent and pass out of my life. Blessed be the chestnut that brought us near together and taught me to know the goodness of her heart and the sweetness of her spirit!”

Men, Women, Emancipation – Beyond the Image…

Greek god statues inside temple arcade

Women have been subdued in patriarchal society for generations, even thousands of years. It’s been discussed and now almost common knowledge, and high time too.
But what about the secret life of men?

Aren’t they being used too, in many situations?

Of course, one might argue, as the ‘reigning’ part, not to say sex, they have all the ‘fun’: they are considered superior, always prepared, always the last to leave a sinking ship, saving everybody else first…They make the rules and the laws, they vote (used to vote solely).

Women have fought for that privilege:
In the famous movie about Danish writer Karen Blixen’s life in Africa “Out of Africa”, a lieutenant when WW I is about to start, tells the main character that they, the soldiers have come to rescue women and children.
Her curt reply:
“Is that one category, Lieutenant, or two?”

It tells you something about the feeling a person has when constantly forced to a stature of obedience and inferiority. Many women also for generations believed actually that woman is inferior to man. Less smart, less capable of looking after business…less able to learn about science or technology.

In this day and age almost no one around here ‘dares’ to argue this anymore.
Yet, the sandbox and its castle of male ‘games’ are very much alive… To some extent, being superior and always cool, calm and collected has become part of men’s biological setup, so it seems: To feel as a man properly, certain situations and emotions are crucial. Some even have imbibed the spirit to the extent that they become furious in situations that question their stature.
It is a sad story, too, though.

Men are not allowed to feel sorrowful. They are supposed to provide for the family, protect everyone except themselves and be ‘successful’, which usually means some kind of wealth and the means to build a house, have a car – and pay for the children’s education.

They are not supposed to grumble about it. On the contrary, with cheerfulness – or at least something amounting to it, calm in dangerous situations – and smartness anytime and every time, they are expected to be wonderful, passionate lovers, gentle fathers, considerate brothers and sons.

They are allowed other kinds of emotions only in times when sports events become dramatic: Their favourite team in football, soccer or baseball losing – men suddenly are allowed to cry. But only then.
Not even the death of a dying relative is supposed to make them show a chink in the armour…

Armour seems to be the operative word: An armour created of steel and glamour and heroism – when in truth, men are just as vulnerable, proud and sad in their hearts – and sometimes would much better like to just ‘pack it in’ – and run….

I am a woman writing this, trying to understand. A little. My own life has been marked by this yearning: To understand. For real.
I have also been raised that way by a smart and kind mother and father, each in their own way: Do not believe the superficial. Don’t run with the crowd, just because it is large and loud…

I have read more books in the course of my life than I have met people. Italian, French, German, Austrian, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Swiss, older and newer poets and novelists, Russian, British, Spanish, Greek, Turkish, US, Chinese, Japanese, African, Australian, Indian, South-American, Canadian, Middle-Eastern, you name it.

Yet, I have met heaps of people too.

One of my passions is to know about people – and know the truth. However painful it may become, at times.

The above about me is meant to show how I as a woman come to write this. I’d like to encourage men and women alike to not settle for half a life, for fear of being different.

Dignity – The ‘Top’…? – Unique Humans

people in sea water harvesting salt
“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.”
(Albert Einstein)

He was right.

It’s an age-old desire, a human aspiration, you might say, to be appreciated. Acknowledged. In that respect we are all more or less the same. In some cultures more than in others.

The difference starts with the values and means that are used to measure the level of acknowledgement reached.

In many Western countries you learn that the highest appreciation of society around comes with wealth. With the best possible results in learning and work. Being ‘at the top’. Wherever that is….

In other countries, being the ‘best’, being appreciated is based on the idea that you actually are a good part of the family and friends, society, around you. Learning, an ‘education’, might be part of that, too. Trying to do your best. But not in order to outshine everybody else, but to be the best possible, and responsible, caring person inside the group.

Why would we want to strive to be a ‘success’ in the eyes of the world around us at all?
Appreciation is a type of love, too. And love is the life-generating force in humans. Without it, we die. Some sooner, some later.

Life can be hard, sometimes almost unbearable. Many of us get the worst of it, in these pandemic times. So, to understand that feeling connected to people – feeling close perhaps, if you are lucky – can make life bearable again; but that may need suffering or sorrow.

The internal ‘glow’ starts here, the realization of yourself as a unique human being and at the same time a part of a group, a society, with values.

Those values that make life bearable and better, each day a little. The Human Rights Declaration has them.

That’s why once you understand what is really important, in hard times as well as in the good, easy, light-hearted ones, you will come to realize that Einstein was right:

“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.”

It’s a Wonderful World – Let’s Keep It That Way!

I created this little impression of how beautiful this world is, almost anywhere you care to look.
We do not have a ‘planet B’!
Even if people seem to explore the chances of ‘expanding’ into space one day: I wonder if we should look for solutions for problems elsewhere, when we created the problems here, in the first place. It might almost seem as if we were ‘dumping’ one planet for the sake of another? Like an old TV?

In this day and age it might seem, as if some countries are more fashionable – or more beautiful – or more fascinating than others.

To me, it is fascination all round – by differences – and the colourful way so many people, nations, regions and cultures exist, side by side, even at the same time, peacefully. Where contact and exchange of ideas make life everywhere so much more interesting and colourful.

It’s a wonderful world! Let’s keep it that way!

Why I Love Austria…

three vignettes showing Austrian landscape, Vienna cityscape and a Viennese palace inside

Cultures differ not only in things like dress, in former times especially. Or their language(s). People’s outlook on life is determined by the culture they have been brought up in to a great extent.
The culture we live in – or with – later has a powerful influence too, though.

When I was still rather young, I came across the book by Bahman Niruvand, a Persian refugee from his original country to Germany. It’s called “Leben mit den Deutschen” / “Life with the Germans” and reflects his experience of differences in outlook in some striking and well-painted colours.

One little anecdote he recounts I remember to this day although it must be close on 20 years that I read the book. He stated that whenever exiled Persians met on one of their conventions, the passing of years showed more and more clearly in their behaviour and outlook, which country of refuge they came from.

He named Italy and Germany as examples and put it like this:

    • Persian exiles living in Germany were always extremely well-informed, organized – and a tad depressed.
    • Persian exiles living in Italy were less well or almost not informed, a little unorganized – and usually happy.

Michael Niavarani, director of the famous traditional “Kabarett Simpl” in Vienna once put an idea about Austrians this way:

“They say Austrians are the half-successful attempt of Bavarians to become Italian.”

I wonder if that isn’t true, after all…

I love this country of Austria, I am a German by birth and education and have spent a lot of my life among Persians. I found the mixture of realism and at the same time romantic, emotional outlook on life among Persians most intriguing, and still do.

And the closest I see people getting to that outlook are Austrians: they look on life with all a romantic can bring to it and at the same time grumble and complain, when irritated at things not working as usual…

Most striking of all seems to me the ability to just sit and ‘be and relish the moment’, in meetings, at desks, or after work, together with friends or colleagues, having the occasional glass of those wonderful Austrian wines – or a beer…

Emotions, Panic, Humans – and ‘Ol’ Siggi’…

Pavement mosaic with the head of Pan. Roman artwork, Antonine period, 138–192 CE. (courtesy Wikimedia Commons, lightly cropped)

Ever since ‘panic’ was defined in ancient Greece, it also was clear that it is a powerful emotion. To this day, the root of some of the most tragic events and results of large group gatherings is panic.

What is Panic, Exactly?

‘panic (noun) – Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behaviour.’
So the Oxford dictionary. As so often is the case this dictionary puts it in clear and concise language:
‘sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety…’

Emotions Spread…

One of the most striking results of research into emotions that Sigmund Freud (‘Ol’ Siggi’) already described were the phenomena of ‘transference’ and ‘projection’. Both basically mean that human beings can feel each others emotions, sometimes in reverse, sub-consciously.

This effect is also what causes the spread of panic in large crowds: it’s not a rumour or words so much but the actual feeling, the emotion spreading between humans, causing those dreadfully tragic flights which so often crush people below them, when others start running and trampling, regardless.

Emotion – or ‘Energy’?

In other more ancient systems the emotions are sometimes called ‘energy’. The possibility of transferring emotions between humans. So far, modern science such as physics hasn’t found or developed instruments that would measure these ‘energy fields’.

Although the names are different, the ‘thing’ is the same: emotions, feelings, warmth, they are transferable, the more so the better a person understands and accepts their own emotions, without judging them.

Everyday Life

Which does not mean: ‘acting them out’!

Basic, almost everyday example: someone who for some reason or other becomes suddenly angry, has several ways of expressing that anger:

    • they could hit the person in front of them.
    • Or they could hit an object, such as a punching ball.
    • Or they could say ‘I am angry’, leave the room and take a good long walk, until the anger has passed away.

I have read so many books in the course of my life and analyzed structure as well as meaning and the underlying patterns – as well as that of other kinds of stories, such as movies, poems, you name it – that I could cite such examples going on for hours.

Find Yours

But the long and the short of all this is: especially in Europe people who are completely unfamiliar with either actual experience of that kind of energy being transferred – consciously! – or with Sigmund Freud’s and his disciples’ writings, may find some of those people who know, rather inexplicable.

Additionally, people who have been raised on very ‘reasonable’ not to say cold lines, may find it almost impossible without taking certain kinds of ‘medicine’ to ever feel deeply.
Which is very sad to know – or to watch.

I encourage anyone who reads this and perhaps yearns for deeply stirring moments or experience in their lives, to do some research, find out about the close connection between body and mind – and not ‘take’ anything other than the occasional herb tea or spice.

Tu Felix Austria – Lucky Austria, You… In Spite of Corona…

female statue with crown on fountain as Austria allegory
Allegorical Austria – Austria fountain, Vienna (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

In these times I’d like to remind all of us of the ancient saying that stems from the Habsburg monarchy, meaning the tradition of the dynasty not to make war, but love, you might say:
that is, they married smartly throughout Europe in order to tie bonds of kinship with courts all over Europe, to keep the peace rather than make war.

This is the origin of this actually wonderful concept:
Bélla geránt aliī, tu félix Áustria nūbe.
Nám quae Márs aliīs, dát tibi díva Venūs. (Latin, 1384)

Wars may be led by the others, you, lucky Austria, marry!
‘Cause what to others is Mars, Venus, the goddess grants you.

So, it’s perhaps the earliest possible dictum of ‘make love not war’?

I put this here just for feeding thoughts… and perhaps to invoke a smile on my readers’ lips…

In these hard times, we should remember, it’s not about being best or first in blaming!
Blame politicians for small(er) errors in the face of a pandemic?
Blame officials for being too harsh – or not harsh enough?
Blame hospitals for not saving beds in order to be prepared for taking care of more people?
Blame everybody for lockdown measures, because the economy is suffering worse than ever before?

Yes, it is true, tragedies arise from all of this; many have lost their jobs, their livelihood(s), their prospects of a promising future, for quite some time…

But let’s remember these few very important facts:

    • the lockdowns are about people being kept alive!
    • the economy suffers always, in pandemic times!
    • in ancient and medieval times any pandemic plague wave was so much more worse at every turn!
      • dead bodies literally lay scattered in streets!
      • trade or any other kind of contact practically was impossible, because people would die right there in the room, in front of others, often in the middle of a negotiation (try Giovanni Boccaccio’s “Decamerone“).
      • decades would pass until things were back to something equalling normality.
      • death tolls ran up to millions of people in each realm, leaving whole regions empty, villages deserted.

We should remember how lucky we are, compared, here in the middle of Europe:

    • a high standard of living to begin with.
    • heaps of fast available data, being provided practically every second.
    • technology and research at an all-time peak in order to develop and approve vaccines inside of months!
    • a large part of the population agreeing on the value of each human life!
      • there were times when lives were reckoned by society strata: so much for a worker, so much for a merchant, so much for the king…
    • information based on a huge amount of well-educated reporters, journalists and scientists!
    • even more data available on every aspect of possible business strategies to get us all through this.

I dare anyone out there complaining harshly about measures taken:
be a politician and do it and decide – in ADVANCE!

Tu Felix Austria, remember, this is a wonderful country of ancient history, tradition, innovative ideas, culture and thought, with usually friendly, and very peaceful people, who know how to work – and how to enjoy life!

Taxes…?!

cafe and post office peaceful people walking

Everybody always complains about taxes: money the government gets from income or actual wealth. Some make it a point and feel extremely fine when they even swindle the government out of taxes, as if they were a modern hero, a ‘Robin-Hood’-type…

But those who complain the most or even put their money into companies or banks outside the state they made it in, are those that benefit most by stability, infrastructure, general level of education or innovations. Innovations based on creativity which is much more probable when the surroundings are calm and secure and ‘knowledgeable’ enough.

The countries in the world with the highest tax rates at the same time are the most stable, secure and – compared – social in terms of healthcare, care for the elderly or the streets you walk in at night… you name it.

Before the civil society was ‘invented’ based on the concept of democracy, in Europe the so-called ‘feudalistic system’ was in place: no working hours, almost no social security in terms of laws, except severe – or not so severe – recommendations, greed and selfishness almost unhampered by law, so anyone who felt like it would populate the streets – and rob.

Knights very often just as much as the poorest, who might be forced to send their children away, as in the famous fairy story of ‘Hansel and Gretel’: where it seemed the parents were to blame, when in actual fact a complete lack of social security was.

Modern taxes are there to support a government and its officials in running a system of society that is – comparatively – just.
Just by protecting the weak and keeping the strong(er) ones at bay.

Streets are clean, buses take you almost anywhere, and are usually reliable and on time, trains carry goods with schedules that make planning possible.
Children from an early age are well-kept in kindergartens and preschools, to be educated well, and kept safe until their parents get off work.
Hygiene standards in public healthcare are high, as indeed they are in research and technology – which makes it possible even during a pandemic to take care that society does not sink into an abyss of poverty and despair, as it did during the plague.
Justice in law is aimed at.

No human system is perfect! Alas, the sky is blue everywhere, as someone put it. Or, even more lyrical, the sun shines for the righteous and the unrighteous, the same way.
But very often, the ‘dose makes the poison’!

And so keeping an eye on those that are weak of character, anyplace, in government, law and the community at large, is a good idea.

But: too low or NO taxes are a bad idea!