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:

Why One Size Does NOT Fit All – or: The 32-Size Shoe

three people legs and shoes visible sitting on edge of car trunk
I see it happen all the time: People look at someone and with almost deathly certainty they ‘diagnose’ their (apparent) problem – and also have a solution ready right away. Strangely enough such people almost never are doctors themselves.
Because good doctors know that one size does not fit all.

A person appearing slightly ‘overweight’ – by today’s public standards – of course just must be in need of a new and completely changed sports and dieting plan.

A person who likes their home, sometimes stays there for a certain amount of time at a stretch just cannot possibly be happy – or healthy, for that matter – unless a new plan of being out in the open is devised and put into action.

What such ‘diagnosers’ usually ignore completely is the fact that really and truly one size does not fit all.
That is true for health, food and sports alike.

A famous food chemist put it along these lines one day :

Many such rules about what is best for you or your health are made and conducted on the following principle:
They look at who has the healthiest feet, find that those with healthy feet wear 32-size shoes – and thereafter prescribe them for everyone.
But would you wear them if you happened to have a 43-size foot?

And there is also something else to consider: What motive do such reformers have, trying to make everyone the same….?

Even the bible has a fine saying on it:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? (Matthew, 7.3)

Perhaps it ‘behoves’ all of us to be a little more careful before ‘diagnosing’ a person by a very few symptoms alone – where there may be no problem at all in the first place – and without knowing the whole story or history.

Perfection Meets Paradise: What Marketing and Travel Agents Have in Common

open book showing landscape in 3D
Once upon a time there was a fairy and a tale… They met, the fairy looked at the tale and decided she wanted to make it pretty and alluring. She raised her magic wand, murmured a few strange words – and suddenly the tale was grand and wonderful to look at and to hear told.
That was the day ‘fairy tales’ were created…

You don’t believe it?
Why not…?

Marketing professionals and travel agents have learned from fairy stories: Make the incredible into a story, tell it, sell it – and call it ‘perfection’.

The fairy tale is one of the earliest genres of human story telling: An old oral tradition that exists all across the globe in practically any culture that is known to and has been researched by humans since the dawn of time.
Looking at travel agents’ brochures – online pages more, these days – one is reminded of that first fairy… (I made her up by the way… 😉 )

I have got the impression that to some extent cross cultural understanding might be hampered this way:
The average person, a librarian, let’s say, or an accountant, will look up their next holiday trip location. The description is full of praise and glory:
“Wonderful views, the city full of dreams, the landscape like a painting, your accommodation close to the ski lift / beach / city centre, quiet, 4-star furnishings and excellent service…”
Since they pay for it the average person when arrived will certainly use this description as basis for evaluation; and they will complain if their expectations are not met….

As a host you might be tempted to think that they judge based on conditions at home.

They don’t. They judge based on a marketing text. On the ‘sublime’, the ‘perfect’.

That’s why perfection as a concept to my mind is what we owe to marketing:
The fairy tale that is part of the image being sold…

The Conquest in Passion – Hearsay and Reality

photo of unpeeled pomegrantes

Almost as long as patriarchal society exists hearsay about the male conquest of women exists as well.
‘Get her’, ‘make her’, ‘have her’, and similar, some far ruder expressions are used by a certain type of male: The ones who believe in fairy stories, the adult kind – that are actually based in so much swaggering.
The numbers of conquests some men pretend to have made. And the ways and means they purportedly use to reach the ‘goal’…

I’ve posted about similar aspects before – yet this seems so present all around me, in marketing, online messages, some movies, ‘social networks’ – especially hearsay and hidden misunderstandings, I feel like putting it here again.

There are those who ‘prove’ their ‘masculinity’ by taking photos and showing them around. In former times they might have collected them in albums like stamps… These days it’s probably mostly the smartphone.

Some even install devices to watch their next-door neighbours with telescopes or even more sophisticated tools these digital days.

Another breach of privacy, crude and cruel in some cases, too.

The Breach of Privacy

The strange thing about this is that the watchers and ‘collectors’ ignore ‘magnanimously’ that is not only a breach of privacy but is a crime by the Human Rights Declaration. There exist countries who have laws that punish this kind of behaviour if it becomes known.

The Damage to Mind and Body

Even sadder are the long-term effects of such behaviour: It damages mind and soul. Of the ‘actors’. Simply put.

The mistake is in the premise:
Ever since Charles Darwin published his theories about the evolution it seemed to be clear that human beings are not far from animals themselves. The consequence seemed to present itself smoothly: They therefore would or even should behave the same way.

People who believe it in these simple terms tend to overlook that human beings are in possession of complex feelings, basic emotions and a mind.
Such people also tend to believe the stories and images and movies that have existed ever so long as well, from Zeus to Don Juan, over Casanova to the average ‘erotic’ story.
These stories are make-believe of a society that creates them to ultimately ‘market an image’.

It’s been proven by this time that the ‘mindless banging’ will end in depression and often even drug-addiction, alcohol or worse.

Why?

Because anyone practising this, men or increasingly women too, will have to consciously detach their mind from their ‘heart’, the outer sign of (passionate) emotions.

This amounts to schizophrenic behaviour in the true sense of the word and just as the actual condition is a sickness of the mind, so is the effect of such ‘banging’ over the course of time.

King Henry VIII.

A very famous example of many is king Henry VIII. of England: Shortly after the love of his life was abandoned for reasons of family lineage (male prince and successor), partly by the advice of his counsellors at court, he started doing just that: He not only seduced as many women as he could get hold of; he also drank and smoked without restraint or real joy…

During the past 10 years or so in historical research the diaries his doctors and his servants kept were revealed: All the ailments – and there were quite a number! – are easily attributed by modern doctors to his lifestyle.
A BBC documentary summarizes these findings nicely.

What Women Do (Not) Admire…

There are cases, alas, among men, who are or will be lost to this kind of realization.

Because they have been raised that way. Because they are too much afraid to not belong – ‘belong’ to the apparently large number of ‘real men’.

One thing is true, too: Smart women will not take this kind of behaviour seriously into account. Ask them, if you will…

Learning and Knowledge – Simplistic? The Democratic Change

ancient printing press and printers
No large numbers of readers without the printing press

‘If they all loved research, who would do the baking?’

What I mean? Consider this quote:

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Sounds familiar? It’s said to be a quote of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.
Complaints of one generation about the next are an age-old phenomenon. Be that their behaviour – or quality of education.

“Knowledge is power.”

This is true too.

The Power of Knowledge in Religion

That is why for centuries the bible would not be translated into German (from Latin). In German speaking countries, Martin Luther, founder of the protestant religion, was the first to translate the full text. After more than 1000 years of the Christian religion’s existence! Between 1522 and 1545 he worked on that, not alone, but it was his initiative.

The Christian faith had been used to manipulate people and keep them in fear of the church’s dogma before that. The majority of people would not be able to read even then. But they would start to understand the text itself.

Luther’s motives were mainly religious, and he ‘only’ wanted to ’empower’ believers into choosing the right preachers. Into understanding instead of following the priests like a flock of sheep.

This example makes it a case in point: Knowledge and understanding need to be spread. Appropriately.

Learning and Knowledge Degrading?

Recently we hear and see (written) complaints about knowledge becoming too simple, too lightweight, as it were.
That people for the wealth of media to consume forget how to read properly, for example.

But let’s remember for a few minutes: The general ability to read and write was not available to the whole of a population until only a couple of generations ago.

Basic Democracy

The general compulsory education was not introduced until well into the 18th and 19th century in many countries!

It also meant a very basic education, mostly. When the civil society really took a stronghold politically. When more and more leaders of countries, emperors, kings, local potentates, started to realize that an educated population ultimately strengthened innovation and the future of business – and thus their power.

People did not have computers, but they had theatres, with lightweight comedies, too. Types of ballads / dramatic songs (according to regional tradition) with images that were sung to the audience or explained by those that displayed them. Ghoulish songs and fairy stories, some more some less deep…

There will always be those that love to do research. Who love to read heaps of books from cover to cover. Who love to be scientists and answer the basic questions of mankind.

But not everybody wants to be a scientist. Just as some love to repair cars or bake bread for a living.

If they all did research, who would do the baking?

The Mistaken Rumour About Victims

unique-characters-wooden-background-inclusion-concept

They tell you these days that certain types of people are predestined to be victims… Apparently explaining something… Victimized as the geeky kid, the odd one in the group…

But look closely, because: How large is the group, really?

How many make a lot of noise and ‘chase’, and how many don’t say anything, at all?

You will find the numbers at odds, too:
The majority – or rather the ‘loud’ ones – often are only those that fit into the ‘official picture’ that is prominent at a point in time.

During the 1960s and 1970s in Europe a new generation had raised an idea and made part of popular culture, what now has become part of marketing:

Dare to think different.

The previous generations had – often just by not caring – allowed millions of people be killed in two world wars that were actually ‘good’ for a few only, the rich, the wealthy – and the conglomerates.

Later, as I mentioned, until well into the 1980s, being careful, considerate and kind was actually ‘en vogue’.

These days it seems, it is ‘en vogue’ again, to be rich and famous…This in turn seems to call for a certain type of thinking, behaviour and mindset. As homogenous as possible. Any deviations from the ‘typecast’ creating irritation. Being different apparently allowing the apparent ‘majority’ to blame, chase or make victims of those that seem not to ‘fit’ what is called ‘mainstream’…

But, and here comes the ‘but’: Is it really?

Are all those people who do no agree with these ideas but keep quiet, perhaps the ‘silent majority’?

If that is true, we should rethink the currently prominent idea of the ‘victim type’, the ‘natural target’, as it is cruelly put sometimes, because that concept is the ‘devil an’ all’:

It blames the victims for being victims!

It aquits the real culprits from all responsibility: “I couldn’t help doing it, they are that type…”

It is important to have rules in a community to prevent harm, or even crime done!
In that respect we need to observe such rules, each and everyone.

Other than that, the call for conformity to an ‘ideal’ of behaviour or appearance can create mindless and even heartless human beings who live ‘exclusively’, instead of ‘inclusively’.

Perhaps people teasing and torturing others are the culprits, after all?

Mark Twain – Adam’s Diary – ‘The Garden without Eve?’ – An Extract….

roses sunny landscape dusk

Mark Twain, US-American literature’s founder he is called by many: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are the most famous of his books, Huckleberry Finn indeed being considered the beginning of the ‘American voice’. He was a man of all trades for a long time, Mark Twain, his stage name and pseudonym, being taken from his, Samuel L. Clemens’, favourite trade he learned before turning to ‘newspapering’:

‘Ol Man River’ Mississippi’s ships’ pilots and their calls: The Mississippi is known for many shoals and sandbanks with very low water above them. A pilot on that river would traditionally know these places by heart, interpret every gleam and slight ripple of waves on its surface, and call water depths to the captain when lowering the sounding lead into the treacherous waters:
“Mark Twain” being the call for 2 fathoms (12 feet) of water below the ship’s keel and thus:
Safe going.

This is one of his wonderful quotes I’d like to put here, from Extracts from Adam’s Diary, for all men who doubt it, even at work… The Garden without Eve?

‘Tongue in cheek’ I post it here…

“TEN YEARS LATER.—They are boys; we found it out long ago. It was their coming in that small immature shape that puzzled us; we were not used to it. There are some girls now. Abel is a good boy, but if Cain had stayed a bear it would have improved him. After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. At first I thought she talked too much; but now I should be sorry to have that voice fall silent and pass out of my life. Blessed be the chestnut that brought us near together and taught me to know the goodness of her heart and the sweetness of her spirit!”

Men, Women, Emancipation – Beyond the Image…

Greek god statues inside temple arcade

Women have been subdued in patriarchal society for generations, even thousands of years. It’s been discussed and now almost common knowledge, and high time too.
But what about the secret life of men?

Aren’t they being used too, in many situations?

Of course, one might argue, as the ‘reigning’ part, not to say sex, they have all the ‘fun’: they are considered superior, always prepared, always the last to leave a sinking ship, saving everybody else first…They make the rules and the laws, they vote (used to vote solely).

Women have fought for that privilege:
In the famous movie about Danish writer Karen Blixen’s life in Africa “Out of Africa”, a lieutenant when WW I is about to start, tells the main character that they, the soldiers have come to rescue women and children.
Her curt reply:
“Is that one category, Lieutenant, or two?”

It tells you something about the feeling a person has when constantly forced to a stature of obedience and inferiority. Many women also for generations believed actually that woman is inferior to man. Less smart, less capable of looking after business…less able to learn about science or technology.

In this day and age almost no one around here ‘dares’ to argue this anymore.
Yet, the sandbox and its castle of male ‘games’ are very much alive… To some extent, being superior and always cool, calm and collected has become part of men’s biological setup, so it seems: To feel as a man properly, certain situations and emotions are crucial. Some even have imbibed the spirit to the extent that they become furious in situations that question their stature.
It is a sad story, too, though.

Men are not allowed to feel sorrowful. They are supposed to provide for the family, protect everyone except themselves and be ‘successful’, which usually means some kind of wealth and the means to build a house, have a car – and pay for the children’s education.

They are not supposed to grumble about it. On the contrary, with cheerfulness – or at least something amounting to it, calm in dangerous situations – and smartness anytime and every time, they are expected to be wonderful, passionate lovers, gentle fathers, considerate brothers and sons.

They are allowed other kinds of emotions only in times when sports events become dramatic: Their favourite team in football, soccer or baseball losing – men suddenly are allowed to cry. But only then.
Not even the death of a dying relative is supposed to make them show a chink in the armour…

Armour seems to be the operative word: An armour created of steel and glamour and heroism – when in truth, men are just as vulnerable, proud and sad in their hearts – and sometimes would much better like to just ‘pack it in’ – and run….

I am a woman writing this, trying to understand. A little. My own life has been marked by this yearning: To understand. For real.
I have also been raised that way by a smart and kind mother and father, each in their own way: Do not believe the superficial. Don’t run with the crowd, just because it is large and loud…

I have read more books in the course of my life than I have met people. Italian, French, German, Austrian, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Swiss, older and newer poets and novelists, Russian, British, Spanish, Greek, Turkish, US, Chinese, Japanese, African, Australian, Indian, South-American, Canadian, Middle-Eastern, you name it.

Yet, I have met heaps of people too.

One of my passions is to know about people – and know the truth. However painful it may become, at times.

The above about me is meant to show how I as a woman come to write this. I’d like to encourage men and women alike to not settle for half a life, for fear of being different.

Dignity – The ‘Top’…? – Unique Humans

people in sea water harvesting salt
“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.”
(Albert Einstein)

He was right.

It’s an age-old desire, a human aspiration, you might say, to be appreciated. Acknowledged. In that respect we are all more or less the same. In some cultures more than in others.

The difference starts with the values and means that are used to measure the level of acknowledgement reached.

In many Western countries you learn that the highest appreciation of society around comes with wealth. With the best possible results in learning and work. Being ‘at the top’. Wherever that is….

In other countries, being the ‘best’, being appreciated is based on the idea that you actually are a good part of the family and friends, society, around you. Learning, an ‘education’, might be part of that, too. Trying to do your best. But not in order to outshine everybody else, but to be the best possible, and responsible, caring person inside the group.

Why would we want to strive to be a ‘success’ in the eyes of the world around us at all?
Appreciation is a type of love, too. And love is the life-generating force in humans. Without it, we die. Some sooner, some later.

Life can be hard, sometimes almost unbearable. Many of us get the worst of it, in these pandemic times. So, to understand that feeling connected to people – feeling close perhaps, if you are lucky – can make life bearable again; but that may need suffering or sorrow.

The internal ‘glow’ starts here, the realization of yourself as a unique human being and at the same time a part of a group, a society, with values.

Those values that make life bearable and better, each day a little. The Human Rights Declaration has them.

That’s why once you understand what is really important, in hard times as well as in the good, easy, light-hearted ones, you will come to realize that Einstein was right:

“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.”