“Stands with a Fist” – Dancing with Life

Image of two flamingos in a lake embracing with their beaks
“Stand with a Fist” is the name of a character in a movie, a young Indian woman in the movie “Dances with Wolves”. I had to think of it recently and what these two expressions mean to me these days:

In this modern world we are supposed to be strong, independent and always up-to-it – whatever ‘it’ may be.

In business and increasingly so in private life if you admit to ‘weaknesses’ you may be looked at askance. And what are those, really? You may lose the confidence of others into your abilities, your skills and your powers of thought or ideas.

‘Weakness’, I think that’s a grave misconception of what humans are, in effect: We all are living and breathing entities, who all their lives are looking for that decisive ‘connection’ with another, that lifting of the ‘veil’, the ‘barrier’ between us – and the conquest of that feeling of separateness as Erich Fromm called it: Love.

Often ‘weaknesses’ means ‘just’ everyday life occurrences that are not ‘pretty’ in a character, such as cheating at cards, telling tall tales for the truth – or eating the last piece of cake.

But much more often ‘weakness’ is equalled with ‘being vulnerable’.

‘Strong’ being identified as what warriors are supposed to be like: Always know the way, always be cool, calm and collected – and never take anything to heart.
If needs be – women and children are to be saved first. Fight for a cause. And die for it, if it so happens.

Well, not all is ‘fair’ in love and war’, because – we are not at war in everyday life!
And we should also not strive to be fit for war, first and foremost. Because:
“Be careful what you wish for.”
Or
If you focus on one thing in your mind’s eye, you cannot focus on the other.

It’s rather simple, in many ways: Our mind is a powerful tool to invoke images and those in turn ‘make’ our emotions, and are informed on by our emotions. And so on.

That’s why focusing on the good can be so important, not to say, crucial!

Focusing on Love.

In essence, love is what keeps us alive, and strong, and self-confident and – positive.

Love? Isn’t it food, and drink and clothing and shelter that makes us stay alive? Yes, but after that?

I think what makes us all stronger really is to focus on all that is part of a peaceful, and fine life, in a community: Not be a warrior carrying your harness all day long – but a sensitive and humane person with feelings that allow us to laugh, to love – and to feel friendship.

But why should I take the first step? What if someone else is there – and hurts my feelings – and I will perhaps even be made to look a fool?

Well, that’s why I called it ‘dancing with life’: It’s not easy. You take steps and you reverse them, you try again and sometimes someone steps on your foot. But who said it should be – easy?

Is war easier? Or better – or nicer? It hurts more – and it kills people.

 

Compete, Competitive, Competition – “Mainstream” or: Quality vs Quantity

Gladiator in ancient Rome fighting lion – Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, public domain

My father was apt to express his opinions rather drastically at times. One of them was:
“If 1 million flies sit on sh…t – you have to sit there too?”

Both our parents always encouraged, even urged us to look behind images and the mere surface. Don’t be satisfied with the second best, too.

I learned at an early age that in philosophy there exists the subject of ‘epistemology’:
It states basically that humans will best understand based on previous lessons. So, if you have learned about some types of people, your own family and friends, major contacts and their ideas, you will be best at recognizing those in others, again. But more ideas and very different outlooks will be hard to grasp – or stay invisible.

There is the idea of competition: It‘s a major concept in capitalism; originally stemming from mercantile surroundings it has invaded our whole lives with that idea of constant competition, at least where it took over earlier modes of thought and evaluating people:

What is best, is determined based on the majority – or the perceived majority – of high numbers. Since high numbers promise profit.

For some reason people started to confuse the high numbers, the majority, with quality: As if adhering to fashionable, even if only apparently, fashionable ideas and appearances would make you finer automatically…

Well, depending on one‘s own measurements, the yardstick, or aspirations, one might think that high profit is good, therefore high numbers are.

But history also has shown and actual events still show that for one thing, those screaming loudest are not always right; in marketing, for example.
And that loud screaming does not always represent the real, the ‚silent‘ majority.

To boot, quality is really determined by intrinsic values or criteria, not outside ones. Always has. Always will be.

In some cases it can hurt to find yourself outside a group… but only until you start realizing that not all groups are desirable to be a member of, just because they seem to be large.

Values and measurements exist for things, and for people as well as their behaviour.

Should you be wondering on what to think about a person or some concepts, facts – or ‚screamers‘ – check values, the basic, fine values that make people and the community strong – and happy(ier).
That‘s a good starting point.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” – “Wer die Nachtigall stört”

Image of mockingbird on branch

Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

(Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird”/”Wer die Nachtigall stört”, ©1960, 1988: Harper Lee)

“Eines Tages sagte Atticus zu Jem: “Es wäre mir lieber, wenn Du auf Blechdosen schießen würdest, aber ich weiß, Du wirst Dich an Vögel heran machen. Schieße auf so viele Blauhäher, wie Du willst, wenn Du sie triffst, aber es ist eine Sünde, eine Nachtigall zu töten.” Das war das einzige Mal, dass ich Atticus sagen hörte, dass etwas eine Sünde sei, darum sprach ich mit Miss Maudie darüber.
“Dein Vater hat recht”, sagte sie. “Nachtigallen tun nur das eine, sie machen Musik für uns, zur Freude. Sie fressen sich nicht durch die Gärten der Leute, nisten nicht in den Maisspeichern, sie tun nichts außer sich das Herz für uns aus dem Leibe zu singen. Darum ist es eine Sünde, eine Nachtigall zu töten.”

(Meine Übersetzung, nach deutscher Ursprungsübersetzung, “Nachtigall”.)

Women, Men and Relations(hips) – or: Equality of the Sexes

drawing of two cupids, one shooting his arrow, one hugging a heart
Image freepik.com – licensed

The traditional, age old approach, not to say unwritten law, is this:

    • Woman is decorative, enticing, alluring and eventually going out of her way to please a man/men.
    • Men look at women and judge them (sometimes harshly) by their looks.
    • When somebody decides in this ‘game’, it’s the man, who takes the steps, makes the move.
    • The woman is supposed to show her utter delight with the fact that the man actually ‘deigns’ to take notice of her and perhaps even is willing to have sex or – God forbid – a relationship with her…
    • Behind it is the yet strong but older concept of women being dependent on men, for provision and – protection.

The idea that women live for themselves, depending on each other rather than men is even older, though.

This is another aspect of love and (power) relationships I have posted more than once about… a central subject in human art forms, apart perhaps from war…

Another not so pretty example is what can happen in business and has been even subject of major Hollywood feature movies such as “Disclosure”, 1994, starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas: The power relation traditionally being the man in power and the woman almost forced to have sex with him in order to stay safe, in place – or get promoted.
It’s been reversed for this movie – and at the time caused a heated discussion as to how realistic the movie was – or if it wasn’t rather making the story too voyeuristic to be of any real value…

I am personally lucky to never actually have been subject to such treatment.
Partly due to my personal preference I believe to choose rather than be chosen…

Yet, my heart goes out to all of those women who still for one reason or another feel compelled or even forced into relations – rather than relationships – because they fear to be alone; to be without a man; and be ultimately judged by that fact by the community or their surroundings.

Finally, one point I’d like to raise too is another craze I seem to have observed in the course of a rather long life:
The idea that as a woman, indeed a human being, you would naturally be inclined to have sex on any occasion presenting itself because in modern times we’ve learned it’s natural…? The more the better…?

I’d like to point out that there is ample proof of man (and woman) being in possession of what has been called a soul 😉 – as well as a body – and that a human body is more than the sum of its parts…
I am, simply put, for that equation:
Every man and woman ‘their way’ – as long as we are talking about consenting adults.

I like too, how it was put in that fine scene from the movie “Harry and Sally”, considered to be a classic these days:

Life’s Quintessentials…

I see and read and observe a lot and I heard about such people a long time ago: The bored, disoriented or even stricken with a heavy midlife crisis… Baz Lurhmann is not only an award-winning director of striking and unusual movies. He also at some point made this speech into a ‘sprechgesang’ (recitative), summarizing a lifetime’s experience regarding the really important things in life – for a young audience; which explains the point of view. And he’s got some points here….

I see people looking around for some kind of happiness, wondering if they missed out on something while pursuing a career; in the meantime perhaps looking for passion that is supposed to fulfill that void… or falling in love all the time because that seems to promise a sort of relieve from frustration or just plain boredom…

I am lucky in many respects: I was raised to the idea that there are morals and ethics and rules in the shape of laws we need for a large(r) community to work. But that regarding my own life it’s about taking responsibility – and know yourself and true needs better day by day. One adage being: “If you are bored it’s your own fault.”

Feeling fulfilled and happy is not a constant state of mind – or a life. But being content is.

Power – ‘Where From’ and Why? – Ways Out of the Vicious Cycle

beautiful-still-life-with-water

Politics make me extremely mad sometimes, and this is my way to express my thoughts:
Men are at the bottom of power being considered a desirable asset, so it seems, more precisely: Patriarchy is. The idea of man being the “crown of creation”, the reigning principle, as it were.

It’s rather painfully obvious that in turn at the bottom of that is the emotion of empowerment, which in turn can be set in relation to sexual experience directly, alas. People sometimes even admit to that in front of cameras: below you find a particularly unusual statement to that effect, ©rbb and arte.tv.

Why? Why would it be a bad thing – feeling powerful?

Because people confuse it with self-confidence!
Self-confidence in turn can have a number of reasons, shortly summarized: it comes from being confident that we exist and behave according to the standards we were taught as children and adolescents.
That’s why people in such societies feel self-confident, when they are powerful (men) or beautiful (women).
But it’s neither power nor beauty that makes us attractive and desirable – it’s self-confidence. First and last.

If we base our self-confidence on new and more stable values than power or beauty we may find this earth turning into a finer place – every day.

Because too many people, and the majority of them men, are led to believe that being ‘successful’ makes you attractive – and being attractive leads (at least in most male fantasies) to more sexual encounters with willing women.
At the bottom the idea of simpletons that a ‘real man’ is defined by his ability to entice women.

There are rather disgusting examples, which I wouldn’t want to mention if I hadn’t to to be quite clear, such as the late Italian politician Berlusconi, the hopefully soon to be sentenced Trump in the US or the dictator of Russia, Putin.

Even the Russian politician Alexei Navalny – may he rest in peace  and his possible if not for-sure murderers be brought to justice – or the Ukrainian president Zelenskyy are no exception alas, apparently if not obviously driven by their adoration for their wives, who both are counted by modern standards among the ‘attractive desirable ones’…

I beg the pardon of all who know them better than I could using official reliable sources, should this appear blunt and unkind, in view of their achievements, too… But I also think that their connections and some actions due to their drive for political success at least deserve looking into.

On the side: No, of course, not every man on this earth is like that, thank heaven – and their smart parents. But too many of those that are in power – or want it badly – are like that, more or less.

All this seems perhaps blunt, but to me it’s to the point at issue, namely war and destruction and suffering and hunger created too often for no real reason – and there’s a lot of evidence in the documentations, reliable newspapers and scientific research in anthropology as well as history and social sciences to make this a very likely point of view.

(The video-clip is a very short extract. Please be aware that I chose it carefully for the abovementioned statement that is contained here. Otherwise you would want to watch the full documentary here.)

The Three Wise Monkeys Revisited – The Art of Focusing

Image licensed adobe.com

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” The three wise monkeys are a concept, an idea, that stems from the Japanese culture. They are a proverbial idea of how to deal with bad or evil matters in human life. When you are raised on the idea that one should be truthful, that denial can be bad for you, you may be apt to wonder.

How is such an idea a good thing?

To my mind it’s two very important points to be considered here:

    • Words are powerful, they create images in our minds.
    • It’s not about denial – it’s about focus.

Images in our minds are powerful, as has been since established in scientific research too: They help us keep focus, they can drive our actions that way – and make us feel weak and insecure – or confident and strong.

One technique that also has been advocated for business negotiations and even marketing – is to ‘visualize‘:

Start using what you have learned in terms of ideas and words to actively make up the image of what you are aiming at.

Your next project, a higher level of health  – or understanding, in short, some measure of self-awareness or efficacy different from before.

That’s why the idea of the three wise monkeys can help not only focus – they help us focus on all the things that make us strong, confident and positive about reaching the goal. Which does not necessarily mean wealth or power.

The community at large will benefit from such views:

    • From the idea that you will not listen to rumours which may be even false.
    • From the idea that you will not direct your gaze onto the bad or worse matters, not focus on the bad things.
    • From the idea that you yourself will not help either creating rumours or bad ideas – or spread those images.

Words are powerful, in all ways. That’s why focusing on the good is important.

Not because one would deny problems or difficulties or the downright evil – but because they can help to make it better, again.

Pick Your Battles or: Live to Fight Another Day

image of a young lady sitting on a mountain top
I have posted about wars. This is about the smaller ones in everyday life. We can make an issue out of every little thing. Sometimes, people will misunderstand it if we don’t. I had to fight a lot in the course of my life. I learned one thing for sure: Many things can become big, even huge in the eyes of the world – or our own – if we make them that. Fighting is proven to ‘take it out of you’: You can become angry, even furious once you have chosen the issue. You start an argument, perhaps. Things even may escalate into a full-blown conflict that rages for years.

And for what, really? So often we will come to realize that a lot of things are not worth the energy, because:
Fighting saps one’s strength. I am not talking about becoming angry – and letting off steam. That’s important in a healthy way and done safely in order to not hurt others. But fighting?

Fighting takes it out of you, the effects can become really dangerous to our system. Because, the way we deal with anger or even frustration is something we can learn – and manage. So much in life depends on how we look at it. Strong emotions are part of our mindset – that is also: part of how we evaluate what happens to us. The first flush of anger may be involuntary – but after that, it’s a choice. To save health and nerves and keep frustration at bay.

Because, also, so often looking back, we may regret unnecessary fights, especially with people we like or love.

That’s why I make it a point in my life – and a plea here for all who are wondering: Pick your battles. The next one may be really worth it.

Quiet vs Talk? – Talk and Quiet!

sunset trees lake

Times can be tough, I have seen many and gone through a lot of such times. I still consider myself lucky, in many respects.

I find that talking can be overestimated. But so can quiet. As has been said similarly elsewhere:
there’s a time and place for everything.

Sometimes we talk to others in order to exchange ideas, or information.

Sometimes we talk to others to feel close by being understood and listened to.

Sometimes we talk to others so we can make the heart’s burden lighter, or to let off the steam of anger.

Sometimes we talk to others to clear up things or answer questions.

But often, there’s nothing of the above necessary. We are at one with ourselves and our emotions and ideas.

In such times, being quiet can be the order of the day. Know that our near and dear understand.

In hard or sorrowful times, a good cry can help. Or letting off steam by punching something

Hugging near and dear helps.

Work helps.

And laughter helps. Always.