Chains of Events – or: Missing Links and the Art of Interpretation

coloured dots in space some connected with lines
In life as well as in art (storytelling, poetry, movie scripting, etc.) events that occur – real or fictional – usually are ordered into some kind of consecutive whole that is supposed to make sense.

This is also often called a ‘chain of events’.

But what if this chain has a missing link in there? What if we ‘connect the dots’ in the wrong order? What if we are simply not aware of all the events, the facts, and connect the visible ones into a chain, that eventually may be tied to another person’s ‘neck’…

In law, alas, this is known to be a tragic occurrence when people are being convicted for things they did not do. Innocent.
‘Miscarriage of justice’.

In countries where the death penalty still exists that’s particularly cruel: Hanged, or these days usually killed with some kind of poison in a syringe.
The human being, a whole small universe of thoughts, ideas and feelings, emotions and learning, experience, kindness and laughter – eradicated.
Gone.

In everyday life such ‘interpretations’, the ‘connecting of dots’ into some kind of whole, still too often also can go wrong.

Opinion veers to one side – or another. Unnecessary pain and suffering can be caused by insufficient reasoning, the ‘interpretation of facts’, if not done with care.

If any of my readers at any time in the course of their lives have been subjected to such ‘reasoning’ – that is really unreasonable – they know what I mean.

Therefore: Let’s judge with care and keep an open mind. We may be wrong…

Perfect Parents – Perfect Children…? Present-Day Western Rules of Education

Happy mom holding little child with golden cup.
Since World War II, after dreadful events had taken place and crimes had been committed – as well as endured – by millions all around the globe, a general question arose:
How can this be prevented to happen again?
Education by ‘perfect parents’ raising ‘perfect children’ so it seems to this day…

The subject is not new to my blog but it presents itself in different shapes, repeatedly…

First Research on Best Educational Practices

The research done with fervour and some very valuable findings made it clear what was needed: Education as a self-determined and free-thinking individual enabled to resist dumb orders was being defined as an important aspect.

Educational best practices were formulated and are to this day:
What do parents and especially mothers do and what should they avoid in order to raise children that are prepared?

Business Aspects Taking Over

Yet, another aspect crept in a little while later, basically throughout the 1980s, when more people wanted more jobs and at the same time business limits seemed to fall, profits sky-rocketing in certain areas.

It appeared clear at the time that not just any education but only the very best would ensure a profitable job.

The result was an even more intense, not to say feverish, search for the rules of behaviour in parents that would create ‘perfectly prepared children’.

Modern Psychology Roots

Ever since Sigmund Freud had published his research on the power of mothers, and eventually parents, ideas also flourished that adjusting parents would do the trick:
Prevent mental disorders, fears and insecurities or even suppressed urges.

His research to this day stands tall. No doubt about it.

Humans Like So Many Devices…?

But the idea that humans are ‘adjustable’ and ‘tunable’ to the point of representing a perfect model or ideal, is not Freud’s.
It is the result of the above-mentioned developments and history in a modern Western world that believes in – some parts of it – the feasibility of anything.

Like putting a car into the ‘shop’ to be repaired, soul as well as body are often treated like so many parts that can just be replaced or ‘repaired’.

Well-adjusted, ‘successful’, wealthy and always top-of everything and everyone or -where, these children are also always happy.
Or are they?

Conclusion: Don’t Force Them Into a Mould

Forcing people into ‘moulds’, into ideals, can end like the famous children’s story of the piglet a farmer wanted to raise as a cube:
He put it into a large wooden box and fed it. And lo and behold the piglet became a square pig… But one day the farmer opened the box.
And nature took its course: The pig rounded out again, as pigs usually are shaped.

Forcing children into a mould in the best case ends a little like that piglet: They will find their true nature again, one day.

In the worst case they will be warped and become seriously unhappy or even sick of body and soul.

“Children are guests asking the way.”

Alone to My Liking? – Serenity

Image of Bhudda statue flower and stone pile showing serenity
In this fast day and age being with others is often considered to be the most healthy way of being.

Some even look with suspicion on those that like to withdraw and are busy just doing the things they love.

I am one of those people: For a long time I observed human behaviour, life and cultures as well as customs. I have accumulated a good pile of knowledge and a moderate one of wisdom.

I know when and how I like to talk to people. When not. I am lucky in this region and with my qualifications to be able to use the internet to advantage and connect to similar minds.

I think the basics of such behaviour are in two things:

    • You have a good idea of the value of time spent alone. You do not feel bad about being alone, as if that was a problem.
    • You have experience with those aspects of life that are connected with the above idea of ‘to be with people’. You know about ‘going out’, be with friends, relations, a spouse, a child/children. In other words:
      You know your needs.

One of those similar minds has done a nice little blog entry I came across just recently and I share it here, because it says most of it in good wording:
People who like to be alone have these 22 special personality traits

There are more – like minds and like texts.

Since this subject is discussed hotly sometimes, I include some more links:
Reference of a Harvard Study on the Power of Being Alone
British Journal of Psychology on Relation Between Population Density and Happiness
Forbes Magazine Online Article on 7 Reasons Why Alone Time Is Healthy

A hearty greeting to all who feel similar!

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?

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.”

Emotions, Panic, Humans – and ‘Ol’ Siggi’…

Pavement mosaic with the head of Pan. Roman artwork, Antonine period, 138–192 CE. (courtesy Wikimedia Commons, lightly cropped)

Ever since ‘panic’ was defined in ancient Greece, it also was clear that it is a powerful emotion. To this day, the root of some of the most tragic events and results of large group gatherings is panic.

What is Panic, Exactly?

‘panic (noun) – Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behaviour.’
So the Oxford dictionary. As so often is the case this dictionary puts it in clear and concise language:
‘sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety…’

Emotions Spread…

One of the most striking results of research into emotions that Sigmund Freud (‘Ol’ Siggi’) already described were the phenomena of ‘transference’ and ‘projection’. Both basically mean that human beings can feel each others emotions, sometimes in reverse, sub-consciously.

This effect is also what causes the spread of panic in large crowds: it’s not a rumour or words so much but the actual feeling, the emotion spreading between humans, causing those dreadfully tragic flights which so often crush people below them, when others start running and trampling, regardless.

Emotion – or ‘Energy’?

In other more ancient systems the emotions are sometimes called ‘energy’. The possibility of transferring emotions between humans. So far, modern science such as physics hasn’t found or developed instruments that would measure these ‘energy fields’.

Although the names are different, the ‘thing’ is the same: emotions, feelings, warmth, they are transferable, the more so the better a person understands and accepts their own emotions, without judging them.

Everyday Life

Which does not mean: ‘acting them out’!

Basic, almost everyday example: someone who for some reason or other becomes suddenly angry, has several ways of expressing that anger:

    • they could hit the person in front of them.
    • Or they could hit an object, such as a punching ball.
    • Or they could say ‘I am angry’, leave the room and take a good long walk, until the anger has passed away.

I have read so many books in the course of my life and analyzed structure as well as meaning and the underlying patterns – as well as that of other kinds of stories, such as movies, poems, you name it – that I could cite such examples going on for hours.

Find Yours

But the long and the short of all this is: especially in Europe people who are completely unfamiliar with either actual experience of that kind of energy being transferred – consciously! – or with Sigmund Freud’s and his disciples’ writings, may find some of those people who know, rather inexplicable.

Additionally, people who have been raised on very ‘reasonable’ not to say cold lines, may find it almost impossible without taking certain kinds of ‘medicine’ to ever feel deeply.
Which is very sad to know – or to watch.

I encourage anyone who reads this and perhaps yearns for deeply stirring moments or experience in their lives, to do some research, find out about the close connection between body and mind – and not ‘take’ anything other than the occasional herb tea or spice.

Athena – the Goddess of Wisdom, War and Craftsmen in Greek Mythology

Athena, goddess of wisdom, war and crafts in Greek mythology, brought to life again…in a manner of speaking.

Why ‘real’ – or ‘true to life’, when talking about ‘mythology’? Which in the tradition of almost all peoples around the globe is a ‘myth’ to begin with, something like a ‘highbrow fairy story’?

Of Greek mythology it can be said particularly well that it was built, based on what was common in the society at the time:
life, love and war or parents and children, brothers and sisters. Kings, queens, gods and peasants, they figured in it, fought, won, lost, loved and hated just as human beings did – and do.

As a child I encountered the German retold stories of Greek mythology ‘en vogue’ then. I didn’t like the style. It seemed cramped and rather bent on trying to provide a sense of blind worship for the old traditions. Typical among those that seem to hold anything of ancient Greece in highest regard without checking twice – or real understanding and a broader view.

Still, recently I came across a documentary about the Greek myths that not only was colourful, consists of more than 20 parts – but also seems true to ‘life’.

The second time after reading Joachim Fernau, historian, of hotly debated, enlightened approach, who yet successfully made ancient history come to life in his books on Roman or Greek mythology and history.
Colourful, too, great fun to read, with real insight.

Athena, the Modern Woman?

Athena is particular to me because she seems to represent a figure as a woman I feel I can relate too:
not perfect, but well-liked, desired even, yet not easily taken in – or had. She fights only in order to make more peace.
She sprang from the head of her father Zeus, reigning god of Greek mythology,  at birth, also a striking way to come to life: a father’s thought or idea…

She failed once dreadfully when killing her sister in a sparring fight, where her father Zeus interfered at the last minute, blinded her sister momentarily to weaken her and thus makes Athena kill her sister accidentally.
A little background here makes it clearer:
‘Pallas’ had been her uncle Poseidon’s daughter in the tales, but both had been raised and felt like sisters. That Zeus would interfere at all, in the tales was due to an old rivalry between his brother Poseidon and himself.

That’s apparently why she is called ‘Pallas Athena’ on most statues or scrolls or in texts: she put the name of her beloved sister in front of her own to remind and be reminded for the rest of her life.

She is protective goddess of all crafts, close to arts and although I am not a craftswoman as such, I like many crafts very well, such as knitting, crocheting, or cooking.

Wisdom, last but not at all least of the main characteristics and responsibilities of her as a figure in the tales:
wisdom is dear to me and I try to attain more, as the years pass  by, always have held in it in high regard.

Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing by a long chalk. But experience and a kind heart, as well as knowledge are the best possible bases for wisdom to come – sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

Non-violently ‘fight’ for peace, be wise, do not let them fool you and look your fellow-man – literally and figuratively – squarely in the eye, yet remember also about love or passion, quality-wise, instead of quantity: that’s what this image means to me in a nutshell. Athena.

A Sense of Being – A Being of Sense – or Why to Not Have It All Can Be More

Wealth, fame, leisure, luxury – these things seem to present an irresistible allure. In former times, the most important person was the king, in Europe. Or an emperor. The nobility after that. The craftsmen and merchants also were well respected. Some had even more power, such as the Medici or the Fugger, who as rich merchants either bought kings and emperors by lending them money. Or even were lesser earls themselves, at a later stage.
At the heart of all this is very often the longing for appreciation. I’ve posted about that before.

But another yearning shows itself: what if the appreciation of others has already been gained?
Perhaps, if the appreciation and self-esteem are in place through upbringing or surroundings, the next step in a human life is feeling fulfilled…

The last Austrian empress comes to mind, Elizabeth II., former Bavarian princess and wife of the last Austrian emperor:
contrary to popular belief she was not the sweet and tragic figure who fell in love and then became sick and had to leave family and country for health. Tuberculosis of the lung is so nice and pale and sweet and bitter, it lends itself beautifully to the stereotype of the tragically dying young lady and sweet girl.

But this is the popular image painted in movies of the fifties of the last century, shortly after the war, when people felt a particular need for the perfect, glamorous world of fairy stories.

Most of her life she spent in travelling, and building little, playful kiosks and castles. Sometimes taking on enormous, life endangering risks, such as sailing in storms that could easily have killed everyone on board.

Wrote poems of longing and more or less sad mystery, spent a large amount of time on drilling her body and eating practically nothing in order to fulfill the idea of the most beautiful woman at a European court, she had been purported to be.
She seems to have been sometimes bulimic and anorexia was at the bottom, apparently.

In a way she seems to have been what is called a bird in a golden cage: with education and a comparatively easy childhood in the outdoors she led a life as the completely ‘useless’ wife of an emperor, her whole existence being geared towards producing an heir to the throne.

Once she had done her duty, she was little more than a decorative asset. A life like hers – driven across and around the world, severely exercising morning, noon and night, almost feverishly hunting adventure and dangerous risks – begins to make sense in this light:
a well-educated human being with creative ideas and not the slightest task or challenge to keep her agile mind busy.

So perhaps, not to have everything, may be the height of existence, after all.

The Art of Making Mistakes and Yet Thrive: Try Again!

There’s no shame in failure, only in not trying again. (Henry Ford)

Many quotes similar to this have been attributed to Henry Ford. The image of the proverbial entrepreneur is associated with him.

Regardless of this being really his own words – I have found them to be quite true in the course of my life.

In a number of cultures, the strict rules we grow up with as children can create the impression that making mistakes can lead to serious consequences. During education the consequences of a mistake or an error are often painted in very dark and sinister colours. This method often is used to make children and adolescents better understand that consequences should be taken into account before acting.

The concept of Yin and Yang is often used to describe the fact that nothing and no human being is just one thing – or another.
Black – or white. But both, more often than not.
In some ways this is true.
The Chinese concept itself is a little more complex.

In order to find out what concept helps understanding life and human beings as well as situations wholly and thus truthfully, and so make our ideas reliable, the Yin-Yang-concept is not sufficient.

To make it clearer and yet easy to understand, I like to use the image of the kaleidoscope: most situations, people and even mistakes are not one- or two-sided, but rather multi-faceted, that is:
colourful!
Therefore, to be afraid of a mistake can also be the result of not looking at the whole picture. Of all the pros and cons a situation, a person or especially a mistake can have.

Basically, as the quote above also shows, not trying again is the real shame. And not seeing what is true, but jumping to conclusions.
I’ve posted about this in another context before.

If we slip on a banana peel, fall and get hurt, we pick ourselves up. We attend to the scratches – and we may notice in the event that the slip has prevented us from running across the street, without watching out for the van that might have killed us.

That is a simple example of what I mean:
Get up, try again – and see if there aren’t upsides after all!