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!

The Great Relief: Return to Sanity in the Oval Office!

sunrise behind cityscape

Finally, a couple of days ago, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been inaugurated, a combination of sense, reason and humanity, so their actual background let us surmise.

There is sun behind the clouds, more than a glimmer of better things and thoughts to come in one of the most powerful nations of the world today.

And now, inside of days, Biden, Harris and their government already started to retrace steps, to get the ‘ocean liner’ that is called the USA back on the route they always called their ultimate goal: freedom, equality and peace for as many as possible. Not just make the rich even richer.

Yes, Biden and Harris will face the history, and they know it too – the country is divided by trenches almost as in war, due to the completely irresponsible and downright bad messages online and offline Biden’s predecessor delivered until a few ‘minutes’ before his step down from office. Also unprecedented, not being present at the inauguration, which would be called extremely ‘bad form’, at least.

Let us beware, the difficult times are not over yet. Watch out for the forces behind people like Trump: their greed should not be underestimated.

Yet, after years of fear and distress for no reason except an apparent madman in the seat of the president of the US, now comes relief, even if by degrees…

Let’s celebrate!

The Kingfisher, the Nest and the Perspective – Keeping Busy?

two colourful birds on their perch

Commonly, at least in patriarchal society, rumour has it that men are apt, in long relationships, at least, to become more easily unfaithful than women.

For centuries, women were supposed to do everything they could to prevent that. Even were blamed if a divorce seemed inevitable, as a matter of course. To this day, even latently, women are afraid (some more than others, to be sure) they might lose him; feel compelled to ‘behave’ the way he needs it.

This also to some extent, alas, depends on the manner of independent means they possess: if they are dependent on the man for life support, the power balance is surely tilting to his side.

That is partly the reason why women started getting into ‘business’, taking up a profession: be of independent means so you do not have to ‘sell’ your soul and body to a husband.

Yet, over the centuries and to some extent to this day, it seemed more ‘natural’ for a man, looking at some species of animals too, to have more than one female companion/wife.

The kingfisher seems another of those examples that seem to ‘explain away’ why men are just unfaithful by nature, poor sods, and cannot help it, poor guys…

What if – we changed the perspective on this for a minute?
What if – women (female of the species) are far too busy once the young ones have arrived, with tending the nest and feeding them?
What if – being busy makes (independent) females often be more content with less than one male around?
What if – the male of the species just needs ‘to keep busy’, one way or another?
What if – you sat them plump down in the middle of the nest and let them take care of it?

What if – you take this to the human level – and see where it gets us? Try famous Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler’s story, called “Traumnovelle”.

Perspective is key, most of the time!
This means: there are facts, pure and sometimes simple – and their interpretation.
Very often facts bear interpretation in more direction than one – or two.

Democracy in Danger – The “Banality of Evil”

lady justice with books on table

Anyone who has followed the court of law sessions against the criminals responsible for war, torture and death of millions in Germany and Israel after the Third Reich of the Nazis had ended in 1945, knows this title:
it is the title of Hannah Arendt’s clear analysis of what can be so shockingly ‘mundane’. The evil that can be part of mankind, in the guise of everyday people with faces of bookkeepers, such as that of Adolf Eichmann.

Donald Trump these days when talking into the cameras seems dreadfully familiar in his ‘banal’ and complete denial of reality – or sense of responsibility for the community at large.

For many months I refused to write about him anymore, to take any official notice in order to reduce any public effect he craves for with such utter disregard of all that is good or beautiful – or human – or right.

His disregard for law and order in their good sense, for equality or goodness, for better chances for all, and in turn his love for public recognition at any price are shameful to watch in a country such as the USA, who for decades, if not centuries claimed to be saviour of democracy and watcher over the application of human rights around the world.

That Trump still dares to stand in public claiming without showing any remorse or shame that he refuses violence, is only true to  the ‘form’ he has shown ever since he started running for office.

In their Pledge of Allegiance among other things, the US have included the phrase “..and justice for all”.
Let justice be served with all the force the legal system has to offer in the US on Donald Trump, now. It is high time for this impeachment.

Pippi Longstocking – and Female (Human) Authenticity …

-row-light-bulbs-with-one-different-colour

When I was a girl, the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books where especially well-known and widely read. As a girl you would learn from the series ‘Pippi Longstocking’ with fun and independent thought that being a girl would not necessarily mean being soft or weepy or helpless.

On the contrary: the song that came with the movies I watched long after reading the books, “I make my world just as it pleases me … ”
(my translation from German) encouraged girls to do what men in patriarchal society have done for centuries, if not thousands of years:
set your goals and try to reach them, your way.

Authenticity in Everyday Life – A Challenge?

I heard a TEDx talk the other day by a Harvard Business School professor, about trust and how to build it. She identifies three pillars for building trust, one of them authenticity.

What she goes on to say and what I agree with in every particular is this:

  • Authenticity means: “Be you.”
  • Easy to do, she adds, when you are with people who are like you.
  • But, “being you” can be a challenge, when you are different in some contexts, she adds, too.
  • It can lead to being tempted to subdue and hold back our own true and individual selves in contexts we seem not to fit into completely.

To me that is a very true and a very important statement. I am at odds with my surroundings to some extent, very often: I am not your average girly woman weeping into the silk handkerchief waiting to be rescued.

I was raised on just this idea: be independent and know that the ‘Cinderella complex’  is not just an invention, it’s there. You can prevent it.

Diversity: by Tolerance

I am an M.A. of literature and philosophy, yet I am passionate as well about technical matters, devices, coding, digital technologies, you name it.

As such I have worked around and with scientists as well as developers who in many respects think and live differently.

I love diversity!

But living it in surroundings with all manner of people who are not always sure how to understand you, when you are so ‘different’ to them, compared – is not always easy.

Men, Women…? – People!

I also think that I am not the only person ever to have felt this way:

The duality and conflict can be hard to bear, at times when there is awareness of it:

    • I may be at odds with my surroundings in some contexts.
    • That does not make me ‘wrong’. Just different.

So, how much adaptability is needed – and how much is good for me?

I’m sure that men are often faced with this conflict in the opposite sense: they are supposed to be always strong, superior and ‘ready’ – even if they don’t feel like that – at all…

And ultimately, not only as men and women but just as human beings in different parts of the world: being at odds can become a new but also fruitful feeling to start realizing who you really are.

The strength to ‘be yourself’ in any surroundings sometimes is hard to find; but worth it.

The Mirror Image Reversed – Focus on Strengths

theater masks

When Dorian Grey in the novel by Oscar Wilde looks into the mirror after having gone through a magical transfomation, he realizes that his painted picture ages. He does not, anymore.

After years of living the life many young men seem to dream about: racy, full of any kind of drunkenness by any kind of substance and any kind of ‘passion’, he still is a respected member of society, not to say upper class of the time in London. After some time people mildly wonder how he can stay young and fresh-faced, as if he was just twenty, but no one really cares to investigate.

At his death by murder, interestingly, he is found some day in the attic of his own house, in front of that omnious picture: only the story’s readers really know that the ugly, wrinkled, red-nosed, middle-aged drunk and libertine is Dorian Grey. After having died his body reveals all the ugliness of his soul: selfish and superficial.

The story is revealing in more senses than one. For me it is an essential ‘image’ of why and how human beings will some day be ‘visited’ with their own sins. By sins I do not mean what the Christian church called them who crudely threatened and especially in former centuries actually held their power over the majority of men and women that way; by making them afraid to ‘veer from the path of righteousness’ and by making out the church was the only hope of redemption, the ‘mass of men’ were held in dependence and fear.

It is the soul and what humans would find in life if they dare: not to go for the apparently big risks – but go for that which is the real path to love and happiness: live it, live peace, live care for others, neighbourly love and peaceful coexistence. And also know that none of us are angelic, while on earth, so have empathy, and remember that you need empathy and sympathy just as much. As human being.

The bible has another fine saying about this principle, yet: “Be as shrewd as snakes, and as innocent as doves.” Which means that you you should look out for yourself, but allow for any misinterpretations, and give yourself and others a chance. At real happiness.

What really makes the soul thrive and glow, is all the love you can find there, and live as much of it as possible.