Austria, Politics and Political Approaches

Flag of Austria with ensign
I love this country of Austria. But mine is not of the kind that makes you blind… On the contrary I can safely say, I see patterns, in politics just as much as everywhere else. Mine is surely not the definitive position on this matter. Just one among many…

In general, there are a few ‘inalienable truths‘ about politics as well.

Politicians need networks in order to get somewhere – and stay there for a while. Once they have proven their ‘staying power’, things can and usually will change:
Others are craving the place in the limelight; or the possibility to wield the power, as in: Have influence and a position in society, more or less respected…

Look into recent and older history of the world: Some politicians are and were extremely ruthless, some are corrupt, some are even cruel.

Some are ‘just’ using the age-old instruments that can be smaller or larger kinds of ‘buddies’ to build a network and sustain support.

To always be white-headed and innocent in such a system, where everyone else encourages one to take advantage – apparently is impossible. Not one single country in this beautiful part of the world – or anywhere else – can say that such things never happened to them.

And power, alas, also has the ‘power’ to corrupt people who weren’t in the first place… I still think that modern democracies that have a working system of exchanging their governments at regular intervals by some kind of voting system, are the best possible solution.

Politics are – human, therefore not perfect. One should make sure to control as far as possible the weak points – point out failures in order they can be put right. But also not expect too much, in view of the facts above.

This is a peaceful country, beautiful, with many, many kind and responsible people around, let’s not forget that!

Why One Size Does NOT Fit All – or: The 32-Size Shoe

three people legs and shoes visible sitting on edge of car trunk
I see it happen all the time: People look at someone and with almost deathly certainty they ‘diagnose’ their (apparent) problem – and also have a solution ready right away. Strangely enough such people almost never are doctors themselves.
Because good doctors know that one size does not fit all.

A person appearing slightly ‘overweight’ – by today’s public standards – of course just must be in need of a new and completely changed sports and dieting plan.

A person who likes their home, sometimes stays there for a certain amount of time at a stretch just cannot possibly be happy – or healthy, for that matter – unless a new plan of being out in the open is devised and put into action.

What such ‘diagnosers’ usually ignore completely is the fact that really and truly one size does not fit all.
That is true for health, food and sports alike.

A famous food chemist put it along these lines one day :

Many such rules about what is best for you or your health are made and conducted on the following principle:
They look at who has the healthiest feet, find that those with healthy feet wear 32-size shoes – and thereafter prescribe them for everyone.
But would you wear them if you happened to have a 43-size foot?

And there is also something else to consider: What motive do such reformers have, trying to make everyone the same….?

Even the bible has a fine saying on it:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? (Matthew, 7.3)

Perhaps it ‘behoves’ all of us to be a little more careful before ‘diagnosing’ a person by a very few symptoms alone – where there may be no problem at all in the first place – and without knowing the whole story or history.

‘Social’ Media, ‘Shitstorms’ or: Types of Public Recognition…

image of skewed social media icons on a smartphone surface
I think I can thank my lucky stars that I never was part myself of the so-called
‘social networks’, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Their really ‘unsocial’ character is proven daily. I watched a documentary on a prestigious TV channel the other day and the amount of dirt used to discredit journalists or political opponents makes me shudder.

I know for a fact too, that younger and inexperienced people may suffer serious damage and pain from such hunts. That is tragic.

As a blogger and part-time writer I safely can say: If there was any shitstorm raised from some corner of those nets against me – it would be a sign only that I had hit a weak spot of such a politician:

Trump in the US, Salvini in Italy and Bolsonaro in Brazil come to mind. Each of them just interested to manipulate those that are too simple-minded to be able to know the truth.

Facts can be checked, there is no interpretation possible of facts.

That kind of recognition by reactionary representatives of an actual silent minority of too rich and too selfish groups in society would actually make me proud.

Chains of Events – or: Missing Links and the Art of Interpretation

coloured dots in space some connected with lines
In life as well as in art (storytelling, poetry, movie scripting, etc.) events that occur – real or fictional – usually are ordered into some kind of consecutive whole that is supposed to make sense.

This is also often called a ‘chain of events’.

But what if this chain has a missing link in there? What if we ‘connect the dots’ in the wrong order? What if we are simply not aware of all the events, the facts, and connect the visible ones into a chain, that eventually may be tied to another person’s ‘neck’…

In law, alas, this is known to be a tragic occurrence when people are being convicted for things they did not do. Innocent.
‘Miscarriage of justice’.

In countries where the death penalty still exists that’s particularly cruel: Hanged, or these days usually killed with some kind of poison in a syringe.
The human being, a whole small universe of thoughts, ideas and feelings, emotions and learning, experience, kindness and laughter – eradicated.
Gone.

In everyday life such ‘interpretations’, the ‘connecting of dots’ into some kind of whole, still too often also can go wrong.

Opinion veers to one side – or another. Unnecessary pain and suffering can be caused by insufficient reasoning, the ‘interpretation of facts’, if not done with care.

If any of my readers at any time in the course of their lives have been subjected to such ‘reasoning’ – that is really unreasonable – they know what I mean.

Therefore: Let’s judge with care and keep an open mind. We may be wrong…

Perfect Parents – Perfect Children…? Present-Day Western Rules of Education

Happy mom holding little child with golden cup.
Since World War II, after dreadful events had taken place and crimes had been committed – as well as endured – by millions all around the globe, a general question arose:
How can this be prevented to happen again?
Education by ‘perfect parents’ raising ‘perfect children’ so it seems to this day…

The subject is not new to my blog but it presents itself in different shapes, repeatedly…

First Research on Best Educational Practices

The research done with fervour and some very valuable findings made it clear what was needed: Education as a self-determined and free-thinking individual enabled to resist dumb orders was being defined as an important aspect.

Educational best practices were formulated and are to this day:
What do parents and especially mothers do and what should they avoid in order to raise children that are prepared?

Business Aspects Taking Over

Yet, another aspect crept in a little while later, basically throughout the 1980s, when more people wanted more jobs and at the same time business limits seemed to fall, profits sky-rocketing in certain areas.

It appeared clear at the time that not just any education but only the very best would ensure a profitable job.

The result was an even more intense, not to say feverish, search for the rules of behaviour in parents that would create ‘perfectly prepared children’.

Modern Psychology Roots

Ever since Sigmund Freud had published his research on the power of mothers, and eventually parents, ideas also flourished that adjusting parents would do the trick:
Prevent mental disorders, fears and insecurities or even suppressed urges.

His research to this day stands tall. No doubt about it.

Humans Like So Many Devices…?

But the idea that humans are ‘adjustable’ and ‘tunable’ to the point of representing a perfect model or ideal, is not Freud’s.
It is the result of the above-mentioned developments and history in a modern Western world that believes in – some parts of it – the feasibility of anything.

Like putting a car into the ‘shop’ to be repaired, soul as well as body are often treated like so many parts that can just be replaced or ‘repaired’.

Well-adjusted, ‘successful’, wealthy and always top-of everything and everyone or -where, these children are also always happy.
Or are they?

Conclusion: Don’t Force Them Into a Mould

Forcing people into ‘moulds’, into ideals, can end like the famous children’s story of the piglet a farmer wanted to raise as a cube:
He put it into a large wooden box and fed it. And lo and behold the piglet became a square pig… But one day the farmer opened the box.
And nature took its course: The pig rounded out again, as pigs usually are shaped.

Forcing children into a mould in the best case ends a little like that piglet: They will find their true nature again, one day.

In the worst case they will be warped and become seriously unhappy or even sick of body and soul.

“Children are guests asking the way.”

Afghanistan – Tragic Past and Present

Map of Asia showing Afghanistan and a dove of peace
Afghanistan’s recent past and actual present are fraught with death and destruction, inequality, and crime against girls and women, alas. But there is more to the whole than just that.

There are several reasons that I today treat this subject in some depth here, instead of posting somewhere else online:

    • Afghanistan not only through the past two decades was a platform for international power games.
    • Since at least the 18th century British interests made it the region considered the ‘gateway to India’.
    • Its geographic coordinates as well have made it a starting point and turnstile for almost any of the global powers of the last 200-300 years: Russia, England, France and the US.
    • For over 40 years, ever since I can remember starting to watch news and understanding them, Afghanistan has seen civil war, fostered by all those powers, sometimes at the same time, sometimes in turns, to make sure they kept influence and – power.
    • Natural resources around it as well are part of the overall interests and ‘games’ being played.

To try and live in Afghanistan is a challenge at least, and these days probably much more a daring enterprise for anyone concerned about a civil life
(Link above: World Happiness Report 2019, UN).

The influences and interests I mentioned are emulated by internal groups and traditional tribe systems that force farmers in some regions to a crop of drugs instead of livestock and agricultural harvest.

International politics have created – literally and figuratively – burned earth in many parts of this globe, be that in South America, Africa or Asia.

Almost none of the countries has been a stage of so much cruelty and death over such a long time, as Afghanistan has been.

Imperialistic politics over the centuries have a lot to answer for.

Making peace is a sometimes challenging task, not to say awe-inspiring. But it is worth it, any time and every time.

Note: As a German born and bred I have been raised to high education and a ‘social and political conscience’. Spreading knowledge and wisdom about such matters is my way of fulfilling this sense of responsibility. Recent German history of the past 100 years is fraught with some dreadful events. This sense of responsibility stems from there.

Exemplary links to start from for more in-depth information:

 

Picture of a dove of peace with olive branch in beak

Super-models, Used Cars and TV-Shows – or: The Relativity of ‘Beauty’

image of line of models on catwalk walking away
Super-models are and have been hotly discussed as a concept for decades, at least.
Why? First and foremost, because, they sell:
They sell an idea, glamour, the unattainable, a dream…and the latest fashion. Last but not least, the idea of sublime love…

They seem to be the living image of all those childhood fairy tales, the princess of the piece; again the almost unattainable, the ‘lady in distress’ to be saved.
The prize a man would win and thus suddenly be shot to the top of society from wherever he came, originally.
The woman apparently being a ‘princess’ or ‘queen’ in her own right:
Adored, looked-up to – and earning money by the bucketload…

But the downside of this is also very true and thus this post: Too many people take these images still too seriously and especially young ladies and girls tend to try and follow that example – far too often and far too much.

We should remember this, as a well-known TV-personality put it one day, (translated from German):

He spends lots of times behind the scenes in the makeup artists’ domain and what they do to the models’ faces there would get any used-car dealer into prison…

Since the advent of digital image editing this is even more pronounced, try using a search engine online for terms such as ‘digital makeup’ or ‘digital face lifting’: Just one such search comes up with 5.3 million results.

In our modern digital age the spread of such images is fast and almost global: Far too many people every day doubt themselves and their looks and suspect they might not look fashionable, that is ‘beautiful’, enough.

A big mistake. Because, what happens to people who choose a partner simply for looks is a complete disillusionment as soon as the person becomes known to them in real life.

It is part of that fairy-tale ending we so often presume when not aware (yet) of the image as opposed to reality. I’ve posted about that too, elsewhere.

Love starts with ourselves. Not with ‘eternal, perfect’ beauty. But with the friendship we can develop inside for ourselves, a liking, the ‘love your neighbour as you love thyself‘ concept.

I implore anyone who is in doubt about their features:
Think again! Watch, learn, I am sure you will find I am right: ‘Winning’ someone’s love starts with liking / accepting ourselves for what we are.

In recent years some campaigns have been launched for ‘real beauty realization’.
But the reverse is there still: TV-Shows about model challenges and searches where young women and increasingly men are cruelly put down in front of audiences for ‘not fitting the bill’.

Erich Kästner, German, award-winning poet and writer of the 20th century, put it in a fine poem like this
(used DeepL for English translation in this case, edited manually, for speed):

The dream of face-swapping

When I dreamt what I am about to tell you,
thousands were rushing through that house.
And as if some one commanded it
and their own faces tormenting everyone,
they all took off their faces.

Like taking pictures off the walls for moving
we took our faces away.
And then we held them in our hands,
as masks are held at the end of festivities.
But it was not festive, the place.

Without mouth or eyes, bare as shadows,
each one reached for the other’s hand,
until they had faces again.
Quickly and silently the exchange was made.
Each took what he found in the other’s hand.

Men suddenly wore children’s features.
Women wore beards on their faces.
Old men smiled like concubines.
And then they all rushed, me along with them,
towards the mirror but I couldn’t see myself.

The crowd grew wilder and wilder.
One of them had discovered his face!
Shouting, he forced his way through the crowd.
And he cornered his face.
But he did not find it. It remained hidden.

Was I that child with long braids?
Was I that woman with red hair?
Was I one of the bald heads?
Among the mixed-up creatures
I saw none that was myself.

Then I woke up in shock. I felt cold.
Someone was pulling my hair.
Fingers tugged at my mouth and ear.
I realised, as the fear faded,
that the hands were my own.

Of course, I was not completely reassured.
Was I wearing features that did not concern me?
I jumped up hastily and turned on the light,
I ran to the mirror, looked at my face,
put out the light and went to sleep, reassured.

 

‘Suffering from a Lack of Emotion’ ? – ‘*Feeling* Alive’

image with a stone heart, blue flowers and a light
“What to take when you suffer from a lack of emotion.”

Erich Kästner, German poet and award-winning writer of the 20th century, published a small book of poems he called:
‘Dr. Erich Kästner’s lyrical medicine chest’ / Dr. Erich Kästners lyrische Hausapotheke.

He ordered the poems by ‘ailment’ in the sense of what to ‘take’ in which kind of life’s – sometimes hard – situations.

I love this book. Among others.

One category in there he called:
“What to take when you suffer from a lack of emotion.”

He was not the first to state the importance of emotions and feeling in human life. Another fine and well-crafted example is the poetic fairy tale Wilhelm Hauff wrote in the 19th century, “Das kalte Herz” / Heart of Stone.

Why do they write about it?

Why would Kästner call it a ‘suffering’, consider it something treatable?

Because in the Western world at least for generations business considerations made it necessary to appear ‘cool, calm and collected’ any time. I mentioned this elsewhere. Additionally, two world wars called for heroism and ‘toughness’ before, during and after.

Building destroyed cities from the ground up again, in many cases made it appear to be even more essential, to be ‘tough’, not be moved to tears by sadness – or similar kinds of emotions.

It seems that many consider it a ‘weakness’ to this day.
Men are even more challenged that way still: A man is to be always superior, know his way about, and will save women, children and the elderly first, risking his life, if needs be.

The Heart of Stone

The result of such ideas is the opposite of an emotional mindset: Stony, dry and unmoved people ‘move’ through life and wonder only now and again what might be missing.

For men, almost the only two spheres in life they are allowed to be moved by, still, are sports and passion.

Of course this is also culturally dependent. Some cultures ‘grant’ emotions to men, and in general in certain situations, that others do not.

In effect it means that such people feel ‘dead to the world’. Walking, talking, attending to business, yet nothing seems to interest them.

Emotions ‘at the Heart’

In modern medicine even, it’s become clear – after certain brain surgery cases – that without actual emotions at all, we are unable to decide on anything.

Emotions are crucial, underestimated, and actually there, even if we are not aware of that ourselves.

Sigmund Freud did the research and cleared up a lot of unknowns around the whole matter.

How to go about it if you hadn’t realized it already?

The first thing is awareness. That is what I try to do around here… for the general public, as it were, hoping to light a candle perhaps.
Or have one or the other of my readers realize that there is ‘more to it than meets the eye’.

Try, if you will, for starters, the book and the tale I mentioned:

All emotions are essential to human life. Dealing with them is what it needs.

Awareness can help a great deal – in business just as much as in private life.

Perfection Meets Paradise: What Marketing and Travel Agents Have in Common

open book showing landscape in 3D
Once upon a time there was a fairy and a tale… They met, the fairy looked at the tale and decided she wanted to make it pretty and alluring. She raised her magic wand, murmured a few strange words – and suddenly the tale was grand and wonderful to look at and to hear told.
That was the day ‘fairy tales’ were created…

You don’t believe it?
Why not…?

Marketing professionals and travel agents have learned from fairy stories: Make the incredible into a story, tell it, sell it – and call it ‘perfection’.

The fairy tale is one of the earliest genres of human story telling: An old oral tradition that exists all across the globe in practically any culture that is known to and has been researched by humans since the dawn of time.
Looking at travel agents’ brochures – online pages more, these days – one is reminded of that first fairy… (I made her up by the way… 😉 )

I have got the impression that to some extent cross cultural understanding might be hampered this way:
The average person, a librarian, let’s say, or an accountant, will look up their next holiday trip location. The description is full of praise and glory:
“Wonderful views, the city full of dreams, the landscape like a painting, your accommodation close to the ski lift / beach / city centre, quiet, 4-star furnishings and excellent service…”
Since they pay for it the average person when arrived will certainly use this description as basis for evaluation; and they will complain if their expectations are not met….

As a host you might be tempted to think that they judge based on conditions at home.

They don’t. They judge based on a marketing text. On the ‘sublime’, the ‘perfect’.

That’s why perfection as a concept to my mind is what we owe to marketing:
The fairy tale that is part of the image being sold…