Distraction – Internet – Productivity – or: Us?

In recent years documentaries and books as well as blog articles tell us how disruptive the internet is to our work ethics, how problematic it has become for people to constantly check their phones and so on social media about their latest ratings, the newest trend, even if only purported, or the most scary news.

Of course, with any new technology, it is added, this means we should be careful, not to say beware: dreadful things are happening, people become dumb, or dumber through the internet, more distracted, less able to focus.

But as I posted before, history can teach us: neither these warnings nor the idea of a new technology or medium being dangerous to the average person’s mind is really new.
When Gutenberg invented printing, the church and other ‘forward thinkers’ predicted dreadful consequences, for minds as well as morals of the population.
When radio came first into being, it was a wide-spread fear that those waves would damage brains or thinking or make impotent or even criminal.
When TV arrived on the horizon and was made available to the masses, the same happened, all over again.

The presumptions in all of this are:

  • There’s an actual average level of the mind of humans that can be damaged or ‘pulled to depths of iniquity’.
  • There’s a crucial point where certain kinds of knowledge or insight might cause the ‘fall from grace’ to happen again, the paradise-situation and first sin all over again: eat the fruit of enlightenment or insight and you will be disgraced.

What all of these prognosticators disregard sadly, are some basic truths of history and humans that are not all nice to look at but still true:

  • For thousands of years dreadful crimes have been committed, cruelty and torture, by the inquisition, an institution of the Christian church, as well as feudal landlords, have inflicted pain and suffering and death on innocent people.
  • Wars have caused actions of killing and torture the average mind shudders at. Rape, hunger, sophisticated torturing, you name it. And most of the time mankind exists, there was no internet, no social media and no radio, books or TV around.
  • People, in throngs, used to visit public hangings and punishment that was institiuonalised torture, many a scary movie these days would shy away from depicting.
  • Women were called ‘witches’ and tortured and burnt at the stake long before any of the abovementioned media were around, again, no radio, no books, no TV or internet.
  • People always have exchanged sensations, told stories, true or false, ‘spun yarns’ and – looked for excitement in an often too boring reality.
  • The ballads that were sung, the shallower of the plays in mass theatre productions, ‘wall newspapers’ that would pay tribute to any of the today’s tabloids, were in abundance long before analogue or digital technology were even thought of.

If anything, in many parts of the world with higher education levels and more well-paid jobs available, cruelties have decreased – except for times of war, which ‘behave’ according to precedent – and according to crimes’ statistical records that cover around two centuries now.

So, I like to put it rather like this, as someone said somewhere a couple of years ago:
‘Smart, educated people will smartly use and become more smart with using media, dumb ones will become dumber.’

It means responsibility again, too:
the better we ourselves learn to discern and also teach our children discretion of good or bad or the best media, the more hope is in it, for all.

Being ‘Right’ – or Being Yourself – and Be Human

For a long time I have thought about and observed what people do, what they think, what they fear at times, what makes them cry, what makes them laugh – and I have the strong impression that in many cultures emotion, as a concept, and emotions as individual ‘moving aspects’ in life are highly underestimated.

Partly, any culture in the world has its own rules about what is accepted behaviour and which emotions are acceptable to display. Often there are differences between the sexes in these rules. In patriarchal societies, very often for women to become angry or furious, enraged and loud, is considered ‘unladylike’, at least. In former times, women often were condemned for being crazy and eventually were locked up.

On the other hand for men, being sensitive and easily moved to tears in such societies can mean to be considered disturbed of mind or at least a ‘problematic case’.

We have come a long way, partly because psychology and its insights helped. Partly, because social scientists looked closer at those rules. Because people ask and asked questions and started doubting customary ‘truths’.

We know more about what is human, what is perhaps just this ‘little wonderful difference’, that the famous French saying puts so nicely into perspective.

But many people out there believe, that everybody should be more or less the same, do more or less the same things and then will live happily and healthily ever after.
This is not true. Although we are human beings and there exist lots of similarities, as regards cultural tradition, region of birth and upbringing, gender and family – yet in detail each and everyone of us is as unique as their fingerprints.

As a renowned food chemist put it (paraphrase):
“Many health rules are built like this: When they started researching who had the healthiest feet in the country and then found that such people usually wore size 32 shoes, they made it a rule that everyone should wear size 32 shoes. But if your feet are bigger, this rule won’t fit you.”

Therefore it can be very important, to observe these two things:
Learn more about emotions, as Daniel Goleman called it first, develop your EQ, the emotional intelligence, as opposed to the IQ. The IQ tests certain functions of the brain, bluntly put, analytical thinking.
But humans are more complex than just their IQ results. For quite some time, IQ tests are ‘out of fashion’, and rightly so.

Another problematic ‘fashion for behaviour’, for ‘personality traits’, if any, in certain countries, especially in polite society, for centuries, has been taken from business:
be always cool, calm and collected so as not to appear too eager about a deal.
This almost inhuman dictum may well be at the root for many apparent ‘disorders’ being diagnosed these days, in children or adults.

Secondly, question rules that force you to be, or feel, or behave outwardly what you do not feel inside, at all.
If people have been treated with electric shock therapy for certain ‘mental disorders’ in the past century, it is a ‘shocking’ way to reveal the underlying dogma:
be right, be like everyone else, otherwise you will be ‘made to fit in’.

Another fine simile for this is the story of the farmer, who thought it might be interesting to put a piglet in a box so it would grow into a square pig. That worked nicely.
But one day, the farmer opened the box to take his square pig to market – and with a little ‘plop’ it rounded out again and was natural and pig-like.

So, I think, find out what and how you are, apart from the general rule or rules and be true to yourself, to become human and perhaps healthier than ever before.

Religion – Life – Philosophy – Strength of Mind

ancient-buddha-stucco-white-old-red-brick-thai-ancient-tradition-pagoda

I was raised as a Catholic, by parents who at the same time were enlightened philosophers, in the sense of the philosophical enlightenment founded in the 18th century in the middle of Europe, with British, French and German philosophers at the helm of it.

I have since had the luck to be part of a university’s body as a student and graduate, with famous researchers in religion, philosophy, language and culture close at hand. I have read and thought, and discussed matters of religion, philosophy and culture for decades. To me it became clear in the course of many years that for all the sorrow, cruelty and hardship a human being may go through and endure, one thing remains adamant and is the core concept to me:

Love.

Much has been written about it, songs been sung, and operas, poems, books , plays been published. Although money seems to be the one driving force in human life – love, in all its shapes, is the other.

And when hardship falls on us, loved ones die or we just have to face humans that have decided to go the other way, love can carry us through.

I also think it important that we find the love inside of us:
because if we only search for it outside, only half of all our potential will be made true.
That’s why I find the concept of ‘neighbourly love’ crucial as well as helpful, as we know it from Christianity: ‘love thy neighbour as you love thyself’.
Psychology actually supports this concept:
only if we like and support ourselves, body, mind and soul the same way we would our near and dear, will we have the strength to do it – support both, ourselves as well as others. And we endure hardship easier.

I am not the first to say it and certainly will not be the last. In the bible one of the most beautiful texts about love is this:
Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13.

Money vs Values? – Money, Dignity and Values!

silhouette of person in yoga post on top of cliff during sunset

Money seems similar to power: It corrupts… sometimes. I think the basic principle is the same as in other parts of life:
it depends on the perspective, on how you look at it.

Someone put it very nicely with these few words:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

For some of those that read my blog, this is not news.
But I feel this to be an essential part of human life, indeed mankind and its history depend to a great extent on money and what it represents or means to different kinds of people.

Basic Concepts

The most important concepts in regard to money to me are: power, appreciation, wealth (and what it can buy as regards luxury).
Dignity.

Appreciation and Dignity

Appreciation as well as dignity go together in this context: many people exist who will accept and even admire someone who’s got lots of money.

In turn that person feels respected and draws on this apparent respect for their sense of self-esteem. And the term that is closely connected, even a synonym, is the idea of dignity.

Dignity

The idea deserves a closer look: dignity is the sense of any person they can have of themselves as being ‘respectable’ and ‘good’, therefore respected and part of the community around them.
And so, if dignity is forfeit, or seems to be, some people can react extremely aggressive and even cruelly towards those they hold responsible for that loss.

Find Distinctions

I would like to differentiate more, to ultimately make independence easier: we may be dependent to some extent on others, for money, for respect and thus simply their support.
But the dignity we retain always also depends on how we look at ourselves.

Money and Dignity?

If we connect these two ideas in a direct relation, namely: ‘money equals dignity’ and then at the first hint of losing money are convinced we’ve lost our dignity in the eyes of the world, this will be true.

Independence in Your Mind and Your Being

Again:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

As long as you believe that money equals dignity, this will be true.

This is another way of saying that there are always two sides to this coin:
What others think about us.
What we think about ourselves.

And if we find others to be right in this view, this perspective on us, then they will gain power over our thoughts, our reactions and ultimately we may lose our free will.

Money and Values

Self-respect or self-esteem are crucial for being aware of eternal values and living them. And the sense of our dignity translates into these two.

So, to become truly independent of all the dark sides of the want of appreciation or self-respect or dignity, such as greed, cruelty and selfishness, find out about the dignity inside.

Dignity Inside

So, I encourage again, once more, all who read this:
Look carefully into your heart – and find the dignity and appreciation in there, the part that is not dependent on anything the outside world could ever believe.
If you can do that, no one will ever ‘mess with your head’, they will not have power over you, because you have it over yourself. First and last.

Corona: Home Alone – Protect Your Family and the Globe, Stay Safe

Clean empty hospital operating room and hand holding syringe

Think of the consequences, stay safe.

Italy, among others, and its tragic situation make it quite clear: health care, even around here has limits. Each and everyone of us can be responsible for infecting someone else, without our conscious knowledge, due to the Coronavirus’ infection pattern and ensuing sickness.

The Corona pandemic is one of the largest catastrophes yet to hit the nations around the globe. In some countries, situations resemble those of war, in peaceful times. Almost everywhere, you can find information, some more some less reliable. Here, in the middle of Europe, we are comparatively lucky… health care systems are among the best of the world. Planning and information are usually well prepared and easily accessible. Almost too much so.

Some people therefore tend to underestimate their own contribution, but I’d like to encourage all who read this, again:
Think of the consequences, stay safe.

It’s not always just about being ‘brave’ if you are not part of the medical staff yourself. It’s not about proving to be ‘above panicky people’.

Statistics here teach: since we all could infect at least three other people, before we know it, someone because of our carelessness will catch the infection and then has to be treated in a hospital’s intensive care unit. And those are limited even in the richest of nations.

So, if they ask you from your nation’s official channels, stay home, wear masks to go shopping, where required. Stay safe. Be responsible. And remember, one day, the worst will be past. And the stricter we keep to these rules, the sooner.

Thanks to all my neighbours and all others I know and the millions I don’t, who stay home – and safe, for themselves as much as for others!

Zeus, Casanova and Modern Medicine – or Why It Never Works as Expected

I’ve posted about this in different ways a couple of times; Zeus and Casanova have a lot in common – but they are myths.

The Starting Point

The mind of too many people is as in a cage. They have learned what is expected of them, what is considered ‘good’ and ‘bad’, what is expected behaviour.

They try to comply to the rules. At the same time, they have yearnings, or urges. Popular movies as well as a certain kind of science, at least the widely published one, seem to confirm certain beliefs that have become popular since patriarchy came into being, so basically, since the advent of the big religions whose main premise is:
there is only one god, and ‘he’ is male.

Male vs Female Lust?

Based on this premise, many ideas have become common knowledge, not to say understanding. And ever since the feminist movement has made clear that women are equal, even superior in some ways… the idea also was commonly and widely accepted: in passion or lust they on the one hand would be – or are – more energetic. On the other hand, they could just as men would, have a passionate relation without ‘love’ being involved – just as easily.

This little phrase, so quickly written and even said more quickly, is the damnedest misunderstanding, not to say falsehood, that ever came into being among mankind….

Thinking it Through

Why?

Well, again, as I like to do, I’d encourage anyone interested to really think it through:
Where does passion start? In the loins?

No!
That’s one of the most dreadful mistakes yet: it does start in the mind! In the brain. With human imagination!

How can that be? Isn’t it a bodily reaction? Do not all those researchers of medicine tell us – and have at least for decades – that it is ‘just’ our hormones reacting?

Hmmmm…. But, I say, as answer, if that was true, how could it be that people so often need more than just a little ‘helper’ to get excited?
How could it be that people so often seem to ‘feel something’ – but the day after is grey and full of a certain emptiness?

Because, our good and well-meaning scientists of the order of medicine themselves forget (at least until recently) to get ‘cause and effect’ into order!

Some, who know a little more about these matters, mostly psychotherapists and -analysts, have learned what is really at the heart of all of it: just that, namely, the heart!

The Steps Involved

The explanation I like to offer here in the form of steps taken, is as simple as possible and should convey the meaning:

  1. A person, man or woman, starts thinking nice and soulful thoughts about another.
  2. The other person is either in the room, and looks nice and soulful – or they are an image in the mind.
  3. The person who started thinking in the first place, begins to embellish thoughts and ideas with more images…
  4. Fireplaces may be involved, scarce clothing, dark hidden corners, secret places, sunny and almost deserted landscapes, etc.
  5. Now, what happens? Their heart starts beating, the breath begins to quicken, the eyes to shine…
  6. And this is the point where not much more would be needed except the object of desire to be present.

NOTE:
Whatever is involved as regards place, location or time of day: the person or persons imagined in it are usually just as excited as the (day)dreamer!

The Beating Hearts

And that is the core of the misunderstanding: people disregard this tiny and yet so crucial detail in their (day)dreams:
‘two hearts beating as one’!

That is why anything else tends to end in a kind of practice for gymnasts: something goes missing…

If this continues, and these imaginative people, who stop thinking too early, and constantly hunt for that ultimate experience believing in the idea I mentioned above, namely, that it’s ‘only the hormones’ – they will be disappointed over and over again.

Belief – or Truth?

Some will resign to their (imagined!) fate:
and live the rest of their life in the belief they had missed out on something, since it seemed to come true for others…?

Those others will feel more and more emptiness, need more and more stimulants, because they pretend to the world and to themselves that all is as it should be.

Be brave! Be true to yourself! Even if at first only in private! (So as not have to admit to it….)
Unfortunately, in this day and age, especially men very often are even laughed at by those who seem to be the impersonation of the ancient mythical god Zeus, purportedly the first Casanova in European culture:
have any woman at a wink…
and live a passionate and fulfilled life. It may have worked for Zeus in the tales, because he was a god; but it will never work that way with human beings, because they are less – and more:

The Gods’ Envy

A famous fairy story is that of the gods who envy humans their ability to love. The two gods start to play a game, placing a wager, by using and setting up a man and a woman. The game fails, the wager between them comes to nothing, because: humans can love…

And: it didn’t even work for Casanova, really. The objects of his desire quickened his pulse every time – and, remember, ‘swaggering’ is an old, widely known and well-loved method of boasting; but it does not necessarily contain many truths….

So, again, I encourage you, whoever you may be, reading this, man or woman, be true to yourself, to your heart: and find the truth.

Neo-Nazis, Politics, Media – and Responsibility!

Again, someone has gone and done it: Hanau, Germany, 19.02.2020: a crazed man kills 9 people who seemed ‘foreign’ and then his mother and himself.
And now, wailing and crying and gnashing of teeth can be heard everywhere, online…

It is important to loudly and clearly state: such deeds are criminal!

But at the same time all the politicians that now stand pompously or even truly sorrowful in front of cameras in Germany, have to ask themselves, as well as the media broadcasting these images and speeches:
why so late?
Why did the discussion go on publicly for years on end without any foresight of possible consequences?

Is it even the bible, book of lots of wisdom, if nothing else, where it says:
“Sow wind and you will reap storm”?

The problems visible now and for almost two decades now are European, and home made:

  • A public discussion for years on all available ‘channels’ of information, newspapers, TV shows, news, fora and talk shows, which spills over into the so-called ‘social media’.
  • This discussion started by a politician in the south of Germany who in the fall of 2016 called the refugees a ‘problem’ for the first time, this time around – and then gleefully taken on by the abovementioned channels, because:
  • News are goods to be sold as well!
  • The discussion continued endlessly, for more than 4 years! Again, on all public channels, trying to ‘find ways out of the crisis’, when there really was none!
  • On and and on droned the specialists and scientists and activists and journalists and political consultants and … everyone who hoped to make something out of this:
  • Over and over and over: ‘a problem, an issue, a crisis’.
  • Then the right wing politicians and other charlatans and up-starts and power-thirsty elements: they are just as bad as any of those that go and do the shooting as such!
  • Because without properly thinking twice, thinking it through, taking care of possible consequences, they take up the yarn and go on spinning it to make a good sound rope – to ultimately ‘hang’ people by?
  • For centuries, sensations, drama, is what draws crowds. For some reason or another.

Learn from history! Learn, learn, learn…!

Some of the lessons are hilariously easy if you care:

  • Condemning the ‘other’ is easy!
  • Send fear into humans with less insight by making them aware of imagined ‘strangeness’ is easy.
  • People, like the AfD in Germany these days – or people like Trump and his party and followers, ‘feed’ on the fact:
  • In ancient Rome the ‘recipe’ worked the same way: make it public – and the crowd, the sheep will go ‘baaahhh’.

So, do not condemn!
Do not call anything a problem, especially about other human beings, if it is not!
And, last but not at all least, also look for that most striking similarity:
the hungry masses, that feel abandoned by the few wealthy who abuse them for the sake of more power and more money:
they are the first to strike out at someone apparently weaker – because to have someone below oneself in the social strata provides some kind of pride to those that have lost even that.

But do not repeat those phrases! Do not pretend to listen to them for the sake of making them feel heard! And then abuse them again…

That was one of the most foolish – and damnable in its consequences – of tendencies a couple of years ago, in Germany, among others. That’s how the AfD got started.

That’s how political parties similar to it can gain power and ultimately throw us into the abyss of another world war, if we and you do not look out.

Because as the smart ones among my readers will know: those abusing wealth and power are not out for the good of the masses, even if they pretend to do so.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Regardless of gender, creed and colour!

Talk to – Talk About – or With…?

When we grow up, we learn how easy it is to get into an argument… Start a fight, even if is the better variant, namely a fight with words, which can get heated too, at times.
And how easily we say things we don’t mean in a heated argument. I’ve posted about some of this before.
And then sometimes we hurt people’s feelings, even those near and dear, nilly willy…

The consequence often seems to be, growing up, that we stop ‘talking to’ people about anything that might seem remotely apt to hurt them. Their ideas, their needs, or wishes, or yearnings…
Instead we talk to people around us about the others.
Thus Peter will talk to Jane about Mary and what she seems to be or want – and he talks to Mary about Jane… but he will not talk to Jane about Jane.

And that can be by far the greatest pity of all, because assumptions we make in talking to others about someone else – and the very often wrong images created about those people – not only present a biased outlook on that person.
Not only can they hamper any future contact since we judge people basically by a ‘rumour’…

Assumptions are like the little story about the man and the hammer by Paul Watzlawick, a hyperbole:
the man wants to lend a hammer from his neighbour, starts remembering the neighbour’s recent looks and his own impressions – and ends up knocking on his neighbour’s door, almost yelling at him, when the door opens, he ‘well could keep his hammer for himself’ for all it’s worth!
While the neighbour mildly wonders what has happened.

Paul Watzlawick, an Austrian, famous in family therapy and communication theory, in Europe and especially the US, who published this nice little book called: “Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein”/”The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness”, 1983

Acting on assumptions only, in addition, we may miss out on the most interesting and perhaps most moving aspects and moments in life…

So, I would like to put this here:

  • Talk to each other! Not about
  • Grown-ups may surprise you too: when you believe they are vulnerable and will get angry right away, they may react reasonably and naturally, even interested in your point.
  • Anyone you would deem interesting enough to talk about could be twice as interesting to talk to!
  • Sometimes, just acting on and listening to assumptions – our own or those of the others, will block a broader view and deeper understanding.

Let’s be less daunted – talk to the other!

Herbert Grönemeyer – Song “Männer” – “Men” – English Version

I have posted before on the relationship between men and women, about patriarchy, images, perception and stereotypes…

One wonderful German song exists since the 80s, when the German pop culture had one of its highlight times: the “Neue Deutsche Welle” Famous representative among others is Herbert Groenemeyer, and his perhaps best known song, “Männer”. Sharp-witted and warm-hearted at the same time, he dismantles by hyperbole… Enjoy!

Surprising to me is the fact that there exists a well-crafted English version. Posted here for all of you guys I’ve met as good friends or colleagues – and my fellow female human beings, who’ve known a man or two, too.