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.
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.
War is wholesale murder. Charlie Chaplin was not the first to point it out. He was not the last one either.
War is not a solution: War is the sign of failure to really try and find a solution.
War ist not heroism either: War is the ultimate cowardice in the face of – thoughts, life and difficulties.
Because: Anyone faced with the question at one time or another in the course of their lives if they were prepared to lose their own life for the sake of a cause – as long as they consider the cause to be ‘good’ – will come to the conclusion that as a fine human being you would have to.
But the point is: War is no ’cause’! War has a cause, not to say multiple causes. But they are never heroic, wonderful or sublime – whatever anyone tells you.
They are driven by interests, of lobbies, of industries, of companies, all those that will make money by selling things for those wars:
The ‘units and kits’
The cars and vehicles
The phones and radio transmission devices
The food and shelter
All this makes a lot of selling to do. A lot of money, for those who provide the goods. The jobs…
Anything you want to sell needs marketing. That’s equally true of war: They will sell it by making it the only possible way out of a ‘fix’…presenting no alternatives anymore.
But that’s propaganda.
War is not a heavenly or sublime cause! Never was, never will be. War is about money. First and last.
In a democracy that is working – even if more or less – clearing up the mess of predecessors is a central part of the work.
The longer predecessors had time to mess it up, the longer the clearing can take. World politics these days are fraught with pain and fear, not altogether new, but at the time being, very central and basic again: Nuclear war?
Whom to blame?
The two existing ‘superpowers’ – the Soviet Union/Russia and the US – have been constantly balancing their power and fighting all across the globe, including in diplomatic talks, since WWII.
The so-called ‘proxy wars’ in many countries in the past and present are signs of that.
Afghanistan is one of the most afflicted countries around the world, and has been for centuries:
In 18th and 19th century world politics, the wars between Britain and France and Russia partly were fought there; Afghanistan as ‘gate to India’ – a tool.
In the course of the 20th century numerous times, the Soviet Union and then Russia with the US fought there in proxy uprisings. Afghanistan a central region in several directions and seen as a gate yet again.
The civil war there raged for more than 30 years, leaving the country almost without any kind of infrastructure or healthy professions people could use to earn a living.
To leave it to self-destruct or leave it to those who would destroy it, would be bordering not only on the insane, but be basically a crime committed against its population whose majority is innocently suffering.
The USA under the Trump government terminated the INF-contracts that had been signed after, altogether, decades of negotiations in 1987 to finally end the Cold War after 40 years.
Trump had instated several supreme court justices of his own political believes.
Let’s remember: In order to change the US-constitution the supreme court is crucial.
Trump had initiated the attack on the Capitol.
Putin and Trump were the best of political friends. The massive manipulation of elections from inside Russia in favour of Trump are proven without doubt.
These are some of the most important facts in regard to the situation we are facing now. Ukraine is, alas, one more country used as a proxy and recently put on the map again, because of that.
It pains me to write it – yet the only chance at peace we have – and ultimately survival, prevent a nuclear war, that is – is the reinstatement of contracts or agreements that make both of these ‘superpowers’ and their allies feel safe enough again.
“Your life’s whatever you make of it.” That’s a popular phrase meant to bolster confidence – or even motivate employees… Well, there’s more to life than meets the eye at a glance. Anyone who’s gone through life longer than just a couple of decades has come to realize what Baz Luhrman so aptly said:
“Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.”
Many smart comedians, philosophers and coaches will tell you that. It is actually a wise person who realizes it – it has been known for centuries if not thousands of years among people, mankind even.
There was a ‘modern’ urge when the civil society began to form that found one outlet in the possibility to emigrate to the USA, then dominions still. With a huge country apparently all there just to find your luck without any shackles or strings attached, the credo was: “Your life’s whatever you make of it.”
Was it, really?
Even the first settlers faced grave challenges, partly from indigenous peoples who wouldn’t all easily accept that land-taking by strangers. Bluntly put.
Additionally, so few conditions known, many pioneers just died from starvation due to completely different climate and soil conditions.
Yet, marketing and people who wanted to sell this idea and self-promoting methods as new ways to happiness and self-made wealth just persisted publishing self-help guides.
The idea of course is appealing. But in the long run it will lead to anger and frustration, because it leaves out all those chances life presents us all with: Recently we were all witnesses to it again on a huge scale, a pandemic, with millions of deaths.
We were lucky too, in many ways, in many parts of the world. But the long and the short of it is this:
Life is full of chances and conditions and surroundings that will make it easy or difficult to reach goals you wished to attain.
Sometimes, just knowing there is a philosophy behind it, summarized like this, can help:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Here is a fine short documentary on the game of Backgammon and its vital difference to chess: Chess is like war. But Backgammon is like life: And it is thousands of years old. It was even used to teach princes at the ancient courts of Persian kings to be sophisticated and wise leaders of their governments.
We cannot control everything in life. A lot depends on luck and surroundings. But we can always try to do our best in any given situation.
It’s a German language version with English subtitles:
Fashion can be truly deadly in a sense: When it becomes a cast, an iron mold to surround us like a cage. It can enclose the mind. It can enclose the body, because certain expectations as regards clothing, movements and even personal behaviour lead us to shun personal character. Like a cage – making all the same…
I’ve posted similarly before. The subject presents itself over and over again. These days it seems to be even more pronounced when the life of such a formidable figure as the late Queen Elizabeth II of England is being reviewed.
She was a queen of the first water: Although not originally ‘born to be queen’, since the abdication of her uncle only made her own father king in the 1930s when she was eleven, she was raised to a high sense of duty and faithfulness to her country and the idea of monarchy as such. From my point of view I would call it the sense of providing guidance and present an example.
Being an example and that in the eyes of the public to boot, is awe-inspiring, at least. It can also be challenging or even prove frightful. To be watched all your life by often rather critical, not to say strict eyes, is no child’s play.
Yes, she is among the richest people in the world and the richest in England, if I remember correctly. But try imagining to be under ‘observation’ morning, noon and night, every day of your life – and have any false step commented on or even ridiculed: Many have been known to flee from that kind of duty, before. She delivered it with amazing self-control and apparent ease all her long life.
Yet, it seems to me that fashion these days works very similarly in everybody’s life, in these ‘modern’ digital times: More than in previous decades?
The fashion that women and men should behave just as so many actors in modern TV-series: be clothed that way, behave that way, cool, calm and always ‘true to form’: To me that is a pity; anyone who deviates from that ‘form’, that ‘mold’, the iron cast of fashion, will be subject to numerous misconstructions and misrepresentations – just because ‘fashion’ demands otherwise.
I plea the cause of diversity in every sense: Let’s not judge prematurely just because now and again people do actually not fit – and are different – or just show personal character.
Erich Fromm, Alexander Lowen, Sigmund Freud, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Alxandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, The Brontë Sisters, Shakespeare, Plato, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle,…the list goes on and on and on…. And those are only a very major few dealing with live, love, sex, gambling, man vs mankind, culture, thoughts, ideas in human life, right, wrong, and human needs. I’ve read so many books in the course of my life that I can truly say they cover a mid-sized library. A couple of thousands.
Opposed to that are the images you find in many Hollywood movies (often especially the ones drawing huge audiences), on Social Media – strange word for such a rather ‘un-social’ market place – but then, ever since the Ancient times it was common calling bad or problematic things by good names – to lessen the fear or dread of it, such as the Black Sea known to be dangerous to sailors. They called it “Pontos Euxeinos” in Greek, the friendly, kind sea.
Market places: Marketing images are everywhere – and they ‘feed’ on stereotypes.
Reading and thinking on your feet, you might say, trains the mind; trains your thinking, to go beyond common images, and be – at some point – a complete and wholesome human being rather than someone chasing the latest fashions in order to be fashionable – and be ‘IN’.
The monster, the lady in distress, the prince and the common man to rescue her so they can fall in love with her afterwards…
C.G. Jung, a Freud-disciple, called them ‘archetypes’ that have been around for many centuries in human existence, in the West at least, and patriarchal society, and thus are part of all our common (usually unconscious) heritage of ideas and wishes.
Most important in this respect to me are these ideas:
Knowing about something does not mean you had to do it first in order to understand.
Wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge. Wisdom is the combination of empathy (know human emotions) with experience and knowledge to truly understand human life.
The loud and ‘active’ are equated; the fast runner and the quick result of a ‘win’ are equated; the ‘meet and talk about it’ and reaching results are equated. Why – and since when?
Hold up something that looks like a real brick of a thing – when it’s actually ‘just’ a card in a card game, nice and solid viewed from the front, but thin and without any substance viewed from the sides.
In business especially since WWII and the advent of the ‘new economy’ some ideas have been churned around for decades now, which amount to this:
Prove your work, your results and your professionalism by making lots of nice noise, present and talk about what you do. Run around a lot, talk to people a lot. That way, everybody will be impressed by your ‘busy bee’ image of the worker bee…
Yet, when all is said and done, what is work – or business, for that matter – about? About reaching results. Creating them, changing them, ultimately selling things, and earn your salary – and the revenue.
The ‘cards of the game’ can be that: A lot of noise, not to say hot air – but when you look closely, from a different angle, it’s a rather thin substance…
Do not underestimate those who have their goals and priorities straight and focused and will reach them with the least amount of ‘noise’ and the maximum amount of output. Not all who are calm – or quiet – are ‘passive’…Not all who are loud are really active…
In anthropology one truth has become completely apparent and proven: Any culture that refuses outside influence and exchange is doomed to die.
That is not only true for peoples, such as the old Chinese one: After they had built a wall around the empire and closed off their realm, they were doomed. There are more examples in history.
It is true for businesses too: If they close off against new and outside ideas and the new perspective another culture can provide, they miss out on the very basic and actually revenue-creating asset a company can have:
The colourful perspective and invigorating effect cultures have so often in life and in business.
This is not just true for the more exotic cultures, depending on the perspective one has: The Far East viewed from this part of the world represents that exotic ‘other’ that is far enough away to be valued again.
It is actually true also, close(r) to home: Your neighbours in terms of a region can teach you something. But you would need some self-confidence to know:
Not being perfect is not a shortcoming. It is just human.
Let it suffice me to quote the prestigious magazine with online content geared towards enterprises, namely Forbes.com: