…Smile when they are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by, if you smile through your fear and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow you will see the sun come shining through, for you…
The song above has an interesting history.
I’ve found it to be true: After many years of hardship, especially during the pandemic, things are finally looking up again. But just as Charlie Chaplin – although more lucky in some ways – I’ve found as so many people around the world:
When life is sad or difficult you learn to smile to lighten the burden(s).
The song above was originally a piece without words for a film of Chaplin’s, one of his masterpieces. He was there in the beginning of the art of movie making, he improved it and became a master and an inventor with awards and special mentions all around the world. He knew, too.
Can I say anything definitive about it – when so many others seem to have failed? There’s romance to be considered – and jealousy, there’s loneliness that sometimes makes people rush into things; there’s fear of rejection, and heartbreak. The stories and plays, poems and songs that have been made are legion; I wonder if not the whole of mankind is seeped through and through with the eternal quest for love and passion and safety – and often in vain.
I always wondered why people are and behave the way they do. Why? Pain, especially. Why would people cause others pain on purpose? Revenge is also a subject in that sphere…when emotions or just pride are hurt and people start out on a hunt, as it were, to avenge themselves.
There are the archetypes that C.G. Jung, a successor of Sigmund Freud, defined: Symbols as figures, ideas of human types of behaviour, such as the bridesmaid, the bride, the damsel in distress and so on.
Many ideas we come in contact with are involved with the idea of love. The very basic longing for harmony and closeness with another human being that Erich Fromm called the need for overcoming the feeling of separateness (quoted from memory).
As most of us I have gone through some pain in that respect myself – as well as some joy.
There are patterns of human behaviour, male and female that you often find mirrored in (usually) cheap movies and stories: They ‘feed’ on those stereotypes and can be rather distracting, if you do not look beyond the images. For your own truth as well as of that of the other person.
Patterns of power relationships are involved, deeply sometimes and most of it not consciously: In patriarchy the man is to be supposed to be always cool, calm, collected and ‘on top’ of the situation. That means that he may tend to look for a life partner slightly his inferior in education, upbringing, or income, in order to feel like a ‘real’ man.
Women in turn may easily tend to look for a ‘strong, superior’ man in order to fulfill those roles.
Sometimes these roles are a safe bet.
Sometimes they are not.
The basics I learned to be true too, by reading, observation and my own experience are these:
We tend to look for a partner who understands – us.
Passion may perhaps be easy to come by – if you are not too particular; some apparently get ‘sozzled’ with intake of substances to make that part easy. Some buy it.
Some wait for a long time to combine the ‘nature and nurture’, the experience and personal liking with a ‘soulmate’, in love and passion. My special regards to all of you people of like minds!
Whatever you do, remember these two ideas, to me they make the most sense of all:
In passion: All is fair as long as it is not done with children – and not by force. Consenting adults.
In love: “Whatever works.”
Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving
Alexander Lowen: Love, Sex and Your Heart
Steve Biddulph: The Making of Love
Paul Watzlawick: The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness
Gerti Senger: Alles Liebe (German)
“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
“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.
Practically no conflict we see around the world today is without past, without a history – and without precedence. The power factions in this world are known as well, since the middle of the last, the 20th, century. There’s a western faction, with mainly the US, the NATO members to it – and an eastern faction, with Russia and China as the biggest nations.
What is it about? Power. Money.
The apparently surprising attack on October 7th in a region that is fighting since the end of World War II is too dreadful to be true: The best secret service of the world, the Mossad, was completely unaware…? Is that credible?
Looking into recent as well as ancient history of mankind we find the repeating patterns – and as long as we do not learn from them, as long as we take only the news for granted, we will end up in more fights, more wars – and more pain, suffering and death of so many who are innocent!
The bible as well many pieces of art, writing, painting, singing/music is full of it: Why should the innocent suffer?
The bible is full of wisdom as well as full of contradiction. But when you take its wisdom from the place of the new testament that puts human life, the neighbourly love, at its centre, which says: “Love thy neighbour as you love thyself”, things become abundantly clear.
In that context it is also clear that there is yet another part in it which makes it clear just as much:
The idea of human responsibility.
For centuries the reading of the quote: “But you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it.” was that mankind had the eternal assignation, even mission to reign. But it seems that the original Hebrew text talks about:
This means that we have a choice! All of us, every day, in every place and position we work and serve.
You may – you have a choice – for good – or evil. Death and destruction and inflicting more pain on the innocent – or love and life.
The image makes it as clear as daylight: What we see is what we think it to be. In many cases. But it’s not always clear right at first what it is we see, exactly.
So, one thing are the facts of the matter.
How we interpret them is the next step. Not only in regard to the actual being: Is it a snake in the grass – or just a bubbling brook?
In general: Appearances can be deceptive.
It is a wise man – or woman – who takes time for judgement. And checks their (assumed) facts before acting.
Of course, in simple cases – let’s say, asking yourself if that egg is really fresh – nothing much is needed to make sure. Yet, better to do so. Or the whole dish will go to waste.
But in terms of situations and people? How easy is it to be mistaken? And to be taken for something you aren’t?
The most tragic occurrences of such grave mistakes are miscarriages of justice. People sentenced to years of prison, yet proven innocent years or even decades later. Or sentenced to death and executed. The newspaper reports and movies on the subject run to hundreds if not thousands.
In everyday life just as well things can easily become tragic, if we are not careful with either our facts – or their interpretation.
So, next time around, check your perspective, your facts – and your sources.
Phones from the beginning were a status symbol – like cars – or a big house; because the first models of a new technology always are expensive.
People use smartphones these days for all kinds of things – even for phoning someone…
But there’s a few of us I believe, who do not use phones often – or carelessly.
With 22 job references and certificates and letters of recommendation to my name one thing is certain: I have ample experience. Due to my studies that I had to pay for mainly by myself for a long time while raising my son – and thus earning a living at many different places of work – I have met all kinds of types of people – in regard to phones:
Those who do not like to use phones at all. At any time.
Those who love them and are on the phone – all the time.
Those who use phones only at certain times during their day, plan even for time slots to do their phone calls in.
Those who feel that too much words are wasted anyway – and do not either answer or use the phone.
People who use the phone only when scheduled calls come in.
You may know a few others, but those are the basic use cases I have encountered.
I often feel phone calls to be a sort of time wasted: So often in business it’s crucial to later have notes of what was said.
You have to write notes and write emails in addition to phone calls to remind everyone of what went on. So apart from phoning people you also write. Additionally.
If I like the other person, I may enjoy talking to them; but to me that’s a sort of ‘danger’ – I am talkative by nature – and before I know it I settle down to talk for a while.
There are times when you like the other person but you know there’s so much to do; you are not sure what they want; you cannot see them and look them into the eye. Smile a little to ease things along.
I love talking to people in person – at leisure – and with all the time of the world – and a cup of coffee in front of us, perhaps.
Bungee jumping: Jump down extreme heights and be just kept back by an elastic, suspended in mid-air: Most people just do it to feel they are capable of going through extremes.
Perhaps the ‘going through hardship’ is at the ‘end of such a line’: Prove to yourself, especially, that you are capable of doing it – and perhaps find out about life…?
Growing up in protected surroundings can make you feel restless – at some point – to some it can happen sooner, to some, later in life:
What is life really all about? Why and how to live? Even with a lot of rules to your education, especially when imposed more or less authoritatively by parents and family – it’s like:
Grow up – and start breaking the rules in order to have fun…? Because grown-ups have fun they deny their kids…?
And still later, it turns out that you perhaps acquired wealth and fame and broke quite a number of rules – but sublime happiness is still denied you?
For all the promises and stories and rumours about the most exciting things you can do – and that could be all manner of things – what in some contexts is called ‘naughty’ – still something is missing?
How do I know?
Well, I know about these things partly from experience, but even more so from observation, talks and probably ten thousands of stories I read and watched.
But also from reading other kinds of literature, books, history too, but also psychology, philosophy and politics. Sociology. I also know because my parents weren’t of the authoritative kind: They reflected on rules, traditions, behaviour and language – and they explained why we would follow rules – or not.
They made us aware of what is at the bottom of human existence.
The classical free thinking: Know about ethics and why they are there and decide when you are of age, at the latest – responsibly. Responsible for mind and body – and the community, ‘neighbourly love’ -> ‘love your neighbour as you love thyself’. Sounds easy, but isn’t really, when you think about it.
Since then I did all those things, think of the consequences before I act…and decide, responsibly:
Although, I didn’t break rules just for the sake of it. Does not mean I did not make mistakes, or never hurt a soul.
But the questions of – ‘what is a human being, why is human existence what it is and what can we do to make it bearable?’
I can answer.
The main thing to me is that many people who have gone through hard times know too, what it is that keeps you going, when all is said and done:
It’s human kindness, understanding, love in all it’s manifestations, such as friendship.
To know that there are a few people who care makes all the difference.
I think, in some ways I am lucky that I’ve seen hard times, because I know for myself, for sure.
The basics in life that make us feel fulfilled and happy are also those that come with self-esteem and neighbourly love. Maslow’s pyramid of needs after that.
It’s interesting to note how ways to communicate – to talk – differ. Even inside one country, differ by region. Where I come from history had people be in touch with half the world – trading through the international society called “Hanse” was everywhere. The ‘world came into town’, you might say.
From those times it seems the tradition of light banter, light talk to any stranger, even a short, light conversation, a few jokes, is common. They are famous in other parts of the country for chatting at the supermarket checkout for a few minutes, just like that…
Yet, real friendship takes the same time as anywhere else in the world: Know your ‘peer’ – and perhaps go through some hard times together; learn whom to trust.
In other places I found that people sometimes tend to be glum, even irritable at first contacts. Only after a while they ‘thaw’ to strangers. And the aforementioned light-hearted banter is even considered flimsy.
From a lot of ‘sighting of strangers’ from all around the world in business and studies I can say and encourage: Take your time and know: Not every smile ‘wells’ from light sources – not every gloomy person is faithful…
Uriah, with his long hands slowly twining over one another, made a ghastly writhe from the waist upwards, to express his concurrence in this estimation of me.
Uriah Heep is a character in Charles Dickens’ novel “David Copperfield”. I think he is one of the most disgusting persons as a character in a book you can think of. He is vile, scheming behind people’s backs – all the while pretending to be ‘humble’, submissive and grateful. In the story’s reality he is practically the opposite. He makes use of secrets to his own advantage, using blackmail to gain power over others. But in that story it takes almost a decade until his true character and his deeds are known – and redeemed.
Although in English literature many of Dickens’ novels are counted among the romances to some extent due to the highly emotional parts – they are very realistic in the depiction of living conditions in the first half of the 19th century. The extreme poverty and starvation that included dreadful living conditions in London slums are the locations Dickens’ uses for famous and most influential stories such as “Great Expectations”, “David Copperfield” or “Oliver Twist”. Dickens was a wonderful master of the language, of dramatic point and counterpoint – and the plot as such, clear, including dramatic twists and turns as well as a true feeling for the unfortunate that make his books great examples of the rising civil societies’ best values: Empathy and social security as well as justice.
I was raised on firm principles: I do not believe that business and its representatives are the ruling powers of this world. So many people writhe and grovel for the sake of a favour, even if only inwardly, of a job, their character becoming so warped and twisted that its original quality becomes invisible. It’s sad to watch when you meet them.
I was raised to the idea that trade unions had been created for a reason. That every human being as such is what is called ‘a small universe’ in some contexts. That the capital in the hands of the few will not stay there or be ‘multiplied’ if the many ‘little people’ do not work for that.
Additionally, I was raised on an explicit work ethic: And an understanding of the many connections as well as relations that make human life what it is – and that make it necessary and desirable in a reasonably sensible business to do the best in my ability to make that business thrive – and keep mine as well as others’ jobs – to an advantage.
My approach is not always clear and easy to everyone around I know. There are still parts of this world where the belief in the ultimate authority of anyone superior in a hierarchy make it crucial to be subdued, even servile, in everyday behaviour. Anyone deviating from that kind of behaviour may be subjected to suspicions of disloyalty.
For me these two views are worlds apart:
Be ‘a humble servant’. Or
be a proud, self-contained and yet reliable employee and/or colleague in an honourable trade.