Peace — Power Games — Chances — Talks and Negotiations

Image courtesy Erik Karits on Pixabay

There’s no doubt about it, war is always a means to an end…which is tragic and cruel, no doubt about that either.

Yet, war has some striking differences to other kinds of conflict in human life!

It practically never happens over night, without any warnings or talks in advance, usually power and money are involved.
At the same time, in practically any case you may want to look at in recent or ancient history, the fame or the dignity of a country or its leader(s) was a ‘bone of contention’ as well.

The diverse political societies and international organizations show the will to ‘power games’, and also the need for a sort of balance in power.

There’s always a way, if we keep talking and negotiating, in politics — as well as in every day life. The recent problems apparently occurring between Iran and other nuclear power-holding countries could have been avoided, if under the last but one US-government the contracts with Iran hadn’t been cancelled — completely irresponsibly. Where it had taken close on ten years negotiating those in the first place.

One very deciding aspect of eventually successful negotiating is ‘putting yourself into your opponents shoes’. Try imagining what it would be like to be on their side, even if only for a while.

Alas, it seems, every generation has to learn all the lessons of the past all over again. That’s why proper and enlightened education is so crucial for our children! And grandchildren and great-grandchildren, because:
As long as this planet and its peoples are revolving, living, breathing, I refuse to call any generation ‘the last’!

In other words: Where’s life, there’s hope!

So many of the forecasts of also recent as well as ancient history proved to be wrong!

To ‘throw in the towel’ long before anything is desperate or dead, really, is no option.

Let’s keep to it – and remember about the breaks!

Life – People – Kaleidoscope – or Black and White?

Image by un-perfekt from Pixabay

“My way – or the highway?” In many parts of the world we can see people believing that there is only one way – or another. That other people or their behaviour or their ideas are one of two things: Black or White. A duality concept.

In truth, life and situations and people are colourful, like a kaleidoscope. Sometimes, when you are full of emotion, such as anger, wrath or a loving passion, the emotion has no ‘colour’ in the mind — it’s more of a temperature, perhaps, rather cold, or rather hot… and if you would start thinking and getting to know yourself or your emotion(s) better you would find out more details – and start finding words for them.

To think that there are only two sides to a coin is a rather narrow concept. You wil miss out on all the other possibilities – or colours.

Sometimes, when we are very sure that only one way or solution is right — at least for us — we tend to judge harshly.

That way we will overlook all the other — even beautiful — colours, in a situation, a solution to a problem — or a character.

Even peace or peaceful coexistence become easier to find, if we allow for alternatives, see the ‘other colours’, the full picture.

The big idea.

And should you wonder if that was too much bother — you may want to think again: Is peace really so much more difficult, than war — or conflict? And when was it written that the good or the better things always are easy…?

Heart and Soul and Body – Or the More the Merrier…?

painting of a colourful heart shape beside a flowering tree and a bush
Image licensed Adobe Stock

Sigmund Freud in many countries today is known to be the harbinger of truth as regards (among other things) sexuality or passionate love or bodily love, whichever term you prefer.

Contrary to traditional (religious) messages, he taught us that it is quite natural to feel the urge – even for women (!), “lo and behold”, it was, at the time – for a loving relationship of bodies…

Surprisingly, this took a while to get started for real as a general idea; around 50-70 years until the larger part of the population caught up with it; and until the idea found its way into marketing and movies… ’cause ‘sex sells’ (too).

The consequence seems to be that people get it confused with the fundamental human needs: those are the need for food and water, clothing and shelter. They are the basic needs we have to fulfill in order to survive.

Sex is not that type: It’s an urge, an impulse perhaps, less scientifically put – but not a need. You won’t die not having it, nor perish – and you will not become crazy – as long as you can feel it yet.

One or the other of my readers may feel disappointed: What, after all these years of hunting for and after it – no need?

Yes – or no. It’s not.

Of course, one may feel frustrated at times for the lack of a meaningful relationship of that kind: Passionate.
Sad, perhaps.
But, believe it or not 😉: you won’t die.

To me that’s another part of personal freedom: I can decide, every day. It’s not a need, an obligation or a gap to fill… it’s the snowy, fluffy top of a sweetmeat in the shape of whipped cream…  😉 or the icing to the cake… ‘nice to have’, but to me neither casual nor arbitrary nor to be had in any kind of ‘numbers’.

If you love for beauty

If you love for beauty,
O love not me!
Love the sun,
She has golden hair.

If you love for youth,
O love not me!
Love the spring
Which is young each year.

If you love for riches,
O love not me!
Love the mermaid
Who has many shining pearls.

If you love for love,
Ah yes, love me!
Love me always,
I shall love you ever more.

Friedrich Rückert, 1902 – Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005), provided via Oxford International Song Festival, (oxfordsong.org)

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.

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.

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.

1 Among a 100 People – The Iceberg Phenomenon – How to See with Your Heart

drawing of a heart and a brain connected by two lines and a knot
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

If we want to understand our peers better, it is vital to be able to relate to others: The basics of human existence, the basic needs and sorrows and joys. Knowing about them in yourself makes your ‘heart’ ‘clairvoyant’: You start to see the other’s pain, their need, you understand – and you can relate to them in new ways and find new solutions to old problems.

People are like icebergs, rarely is everything visible at once. It’s a fact that we all know to be true, at least more or less: Especially in business it’s a common idea that one should be always competent, never make mistakes…, always be fit and never lack enthusiasm. Perhaps even smile, if you can, to show that you are happy.

That means many people, even if half-consciously, behave that way; because we learn early in life from our surroundings, namely parents, family, friends and later kindergarten and school, and so on.

But sometimes people start realizing at some point that there is “more to it than meets the eye”.

Human beings have fine sensors especially as children about what is accepted behaviour and what is not. Therefore starting with early childhood they adapt to what is expected. The culture and personal background therefore are decisive aspects of what makes for the personality you meet one day around your workplace. And the personality you are.

The hidden emotions and less accepted tendencies and urges and wishes and the yearning sometimes to fulfill an inner need for something else – love perhaps, passion, adventure, or just true self-confidence because sadness and fear and childlike joy have a place again – can be strong. The self-control usually is too.

If we take into account that any culture in this world has these limitations imposed on people’s behaviour and even their thoughts and ideas that are basics for that self-control preventing them from speaking up – we will start to be able to look beyond the image. Relate to the true human being behind the business personality.

Daniel Goleman in his bestselling book called it “EQ”: Emotional Intelligence, the ability to realize the emotional side to any human thought and reaction. He states it clearly that science did eventually prove what has been part of literature, music and stories for as long as mankind exists: Emotions are the basics and central. Without them we become incapable to decide – anything.

That’s how heart and brain are connected – in a nutshell.

Statistics show too that 1 among a 100 people will speak up or contact someone when they have a problem or an issue. Therefore, looking at the small numbers in this respect can be crucial.

That’s why I use this blog to post about perhaps unusual subjects – to some of my readers. In the hopes that one or the other of them finds realization and perhaps even consolation in the fact that they are not alone with those thoughts, ideas or puzzles of human existence.

Understanding our emotions and relate to others better that way, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry put this way in “The Little Prince”:

“Here is my secret. It is very simple: you only truly see with your heart.
What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

To Tame A Friend…

painting of 5 birds sitting on a branch
©Stacy Zimmerman

“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….”

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince)

A Snake or a Rope? – Perspective is Key

drawing of a manikin at a little clearing, looking at a speckled band moving
(Image courtesy giphy.com – public domain)

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.