Dreams and Pictures that Move – Moving Pictures

image of movie theatre and lights on its dark screen
The prince and princess, the lovers, the heroes, the white stallion, the knight and the lady in distress, they are images, similar in many countries’ folk stories and fairy tales.

“Moving” – it’s a word that in the English language has several rather distinct meanings. One of them is about emotion, basic human feelings. They move us. Deeply, in some cases. Sometimes it’s words, connected to ideas.

Or the simple or more complex images that recall a happy moment, peaceful nights full of light – or sad moments.

Movies, the moving images originally, have become a forceful way of telling stories, just as plays, their ‘predecessors’. To tell stories is a pastime that is as old as mankind itself. Among the most famous artists always were storytellers, the craftsmen and craftswomen of words, phrases and sentences invoking images in the mind of the audience – and thus emotions.

And just as fairy tales they sometimes barely represent the real world, the truth. Instead, they tell us about the wonderful combinations of dreams and wishes people have – and create new stories from to entertain – and for a few hours take us to fairyland.

It is a fine way to spend the time, at times. This world some people force us to see can be cruel and dangerous. I consider  myself lucky in spite of quite some hardships I’ve seen and experienced in the course of my life.

I have read through towers of books, a mid-sized library at least. Countless movies and TV-serials that did help me laugh at the world and the hardships, sometimes. And that also managed to be a sort of friend, patient, non-judicial in some cases, boosting self-confidence and understand about hardship in other parts of the world.

Indeed, documentaries, too, these days have reached a high level of expertise, combining entertainment with facts.

I closely studied the literature and culture of three distinct countries covering a time span of two thousand years. I’ve read about many more. And heard about still more.

I can safely say that I know a thing or two about history and mankind.

I want to encourage all who read this: If you haven’t already, check your values – and then read books, or articles, or posts, or – watch movies, but always remember: To confuse writing or other pictorial arts with reality can be a problem, at least.

There is a person or persons behind it – and sometimes it’s only a thin veil between yourself and reality, yet – not reality itself.

Competition and Patriarchy – or: Manipulation as Doubtful Means to an End


Patriarchy is an old concept of society but not the oldest ever. Even older is the one about matriarchy.
What they mean? They are about power in societies and describe the fact that either the male or female aspect reigns, the eldest being the head of the family, respectively.

Patriarchy in particular has won a rather doubtful reputation over the centuries since its advent. It’s been a while, bluntly put, a couple of thousands of years. But archaeologists still find ample and unambiguous proof that matriarchy is even older as a concept and was wide-spread at one time all around the world. Some religious traditions and rites still show the roots of it to this day. Just as some rather old customs, in all cultures today.

Patriarchy employs rather doubtful means to its ends, as it were. A society model that to a great extent is based on – competition.

Some people try to tell us competition is a human impulse. I beg to differ, to my mind such people do not look closely enough and I think that the humanities agree: In many societies around the globe a basic human need is met only by winning something:

The need for attention.

Human beings need attention, actually some form of love, to survive. And the closest some lesser developed cultures seem to get to that is the attention provided when winning a competition.

And sadly, this fact also is often used between the ‘comrades’, the ‘buddies’ when trying other people to do something, get them to react, in short: Make them feel or think something.

It never was nice. And it never was really considerate. Even less ‘gentlemanly’. I find the original idea of the ‘gentle man’ rather intriguing. As opposed to some aberrations of the snob.

Again, quite bluntly put: Manipulation is often used as a means to win an end. But as my father used to put it even more bluntly: “Do you have to sit on cr…p just because a million flies do?”

 

Work, Life and Chance – Backgammon: The Game of Princes

Iran, Esfahan (Isfahan) – Ali Qapu Palace

“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:

The Nerd, the Partygoer and the Bookworm – Perspectives and Judgement

Image of dog and cat playing together
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

Life can be full of surprises. Especially when you expect a certain degree of ‘sameness’, that is people to be the same as yourself, or at least very similar.

Common assumptions are based on a few, sometimes almost crude, differentiations and types, such as the types of the title: the nerd, the partygoer and the bookish type, the bookworm. Interestingly enough, as soon as you use these terms, people start coming up with images in their minds:

    • The bookish type like the proverbial church mouse, grey all over, always buried in some book or other and perhaps even a little other-worldly. Not well-versed in the ways of the world.
    • The nerd, to my mind to some extent the modern version of the bookworm: Always having something or other to do with a digital device, the laptop these days, a smart phone, a computer or any other digital device you can think of. Buried too, in a way in their work.
    • The partygoer, a colourful appearance, rather talkative and even loud, attracting attention wherever they go, with pleasure, sometimes overdoing it a little, perhaps.

But these are the stereotypes. I am not saying they do not help. But if we use the stereotypes alone to judge people or to make sense of them, we may be mistaken.

There are not only ‘sub-types’. There’s usually more to human life and needs or wishes or dreams than just the external signs or the typical behaviour you may conclude because that’s all you are looking for.

In other words: Human beings and life are rather more colourful than a party dress.
‘There is more to it than meets the eye’: One might think of icebergs, the bulk of their mass is below the surface.

Try the kaleidoscope, it’s a favourite image I use to make my point. There’s black, white, green and red. But there are so many more colours to it, to life that is. There’s grey, gold and silver and heaps of others. And each comes in so many shades, too. (Not just shades of grey.  😉 )

I am a person who always has loved books, for me reading is like talking in my head. I hear language I write practically the same way, too, the same way I hear spoken words: With melody to it.

I know not everyone is the same; some people just do not like books or reading that much and avoid it if they don’t have to. I respect that.

I think it is vital for a peaceful existence to accept diversity, the truly colourful existence on this Earth, of humans as well as any other living or breathing entity.

 

Peace and Conflict Studies – How to Avoid or Minimize Conflicts…

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Peace and conflict studies have been a part of social science since the 19th century, started apparently in Sweden and were furthered by the US civil war of the 1860s. The basics say that there are patterns to conflicts, the larger as well as the smaller ones.

One thing I learned early in life: Conflict usually starts somewhere and somehow – and if you are not careful, it can escalate and before you know it, things become unmanageable or even unbearable.

My father was what these days is called a ‘coach’. As academic, scholar and a degree in law as well as strong background in psychology he was well known in a large international company: He sometimes told details and explained to us as kids how easily people in offices can get into almost insolvable hassles like Gordian knots that he used to solve with his colleagues, in some cases after years of silence between members of a team.

In private life I observed and suffered from rifts. So, if anyone, I am one who knows. I have read a lot and one thing I’ve learned by studying and my own experience:

Few things in this life are really so big that they deserve angry arguments, conflicts or actual rifts.

Very often it is not so much about the conflict or argument as such – but the consequences. Pride, one of the hardest, immovable and ‘stubborn’ reasons for sometimes dreadful fallings-out, is only one aspect.

That is why I think it is well worth my and other people’s while to think twice before starting – a conflict.

 

A Veritable Credo

image of lighthouse and a rock on seashore
The basics…? Food, dry shelter and clothes. Beyond that? Humans need company to feel accepted. To feel as part of a whole.

To get beyond acceptance and beyond the basics many people are prepared to do almost anything. Attention which is equalled with special acceptance is at the centre, often half-conscious. Depending on the culture, wealth may be put at the top of the list.

The bucket list?

To me, life can be full of pain, cruelty and suffering. In order to make life bearable or even wonderful, we would want to avoid pain for others and for ourselves.

Any wise book in this world you may want to try will put it in so many words. Philosophers as well as business reckonings as well as the great books of the four biggest world religions contain these elements in principle:

Life can be dreadful and it can be wonderful. We, as grown-up human beings are largely responsible for what we do and how we treat others on life’s journey.

We can see it as one big race. But, as Baz Luhrmann put it so wisely, “the race is long but in the end it’s only with yourself.”

There are times when some people wonder what to do, what to put at their list’s top.

In that case I would like to put it this way: All four religions and their central books/scrolls have their strengths and weaknesses, some parts of them having been discussed for centuries.

But, in order to live together in this world that depends on us being smart and compassionate and remember our ancestor’s ways of honouring nature – the human rights of the United Nations can be considered the best possible foundation, a rock of truth as it were, to measure everything else by – and with.

Your yardstick.

After that, the basics. And laughter, kindness and joy shared. Love.

Cruel Attack on Salman Rushdie – Award-winning Writer

Image showing Salman Rushdie discussing with mic in hand
Image courtesy Ecosia Search Engine – Free license

After all this time someone managed to hit, cruelly: Salman Rushdie, wonderful poet and writer of award-winning books was attacked on Friday with a knife and hit 10 times. At the moment of this writing he seems to  be out of danger. I hope he will recover and heal mind and body to come out even stronger than before.

The darker side of any religion sometimes is revealed in such acts: Manipulated simple-minded people who actually believe that freedom of press, opinion and religious following could be considered a sin, exist. They existed in ancient history when Muslims and Christians killed each other in the ‘Holy Land’ apparently over who would own it.
When it really was about power in that region and trade ways as well as roads.

In ancient times and these days: Any religion can be abused to manipulate people into cruel deeds, into following someone for the sake of simple solutions in words, in order to feel special, in a dangerous, deceptive safety of woolly-headed idolatry.

The only way out of what Plato described in the cave allegory: People sitting in a cave, with the entrance behind them, a slight elevation and a light on it between, watching the cave walls. Life and its figures passing by the entrance outside, to such humans appear like flickering shadows on that back wall.

To leave that cave of misinterpretation and age-old manipulation means: Train your mind.

Learn about thoughts and ideas. Understand that humans need to respect each other in order to be able to live in a world of peace and joy. To be able to even let their dreams come true which might be just – to live and let live in peace of mind.

To watch over human rights as declared in the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations – is without alternative!

Knowledge – Wisdom – Marketing – Stereotypes – What Reading and Thinking Can Do for You

image of beach at sunset and family walking
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

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.

Less is More – Western vs Eastern Concepts of ‘Action’? – The Cards of the Game…

Image of falling cards suspendedin mid-air
Image courtesy freepik.com – Licensed

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…

 

Culture – Diversity – Business – True Wealth

picture of the earth in space

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: