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

wooden bridge among pink blossomed trees

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!”

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.”

The Kingfisher, the Nest and the Perspective – Keeping Busy?

two colourful birds on their perch

Commonly, at least in patriarchal society, rumour has it that men are apt, in long relationships, at least, to become more easily unfaithful than women.

For centuries, women were supposed to do everything they could to prevent that. Even were blamed if a divorce seemed inevitable, as a matter of course. To this day, even latently, women are afraid (some more than others, to be sure) they might lose him; feel compelled to ‘behave’ the way he needs it.

This also to some extent, alas, depends on the manner of independent means they possess: if they are dependent on the man for life support, the power balance is surely tilting to his side.

That is partly the reason why women started getting into ‘business’, taking up a profession: be of independent means so you do not have to ‘sell’ your soul and body to a husband.

Yet, over the centuries and to some extent to this day, it seemed more ‘natural’ for a man, looking at some species of animals too, to have more than one female companion/wife.

The kingfisher seems another of those examples that seem to ‘explain away’ why men are just unfaithful by nature, poor sods, and cannot help it, poor guys…

What if – we changed the perspective on this for a minute?
What if – women (female of the species) are far too busy once the young ones have arrived, with tending the nest and feeding them?
What if – being busy makes (independent) females often be more content with less than one male around?
What if – the male of the species just needs ‘to keep busy’, one way or another?
What if – you sat them plump down in the middle of the nest and let them take care of it?

What if – you take this to the human level – and see where it gets us? Try famous Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler’s story, called “Traumnovelle”.

Perspective is key, most of the time!
This means: there are facts, pure and sometimes simple – and their interpretation.
Very often facts bear interpretation in more direction than one – or two.

Democracy in Danger – The “Banality of Evil”

lady justice with books on table

Anyone who has followed the court of law sessions against the criminals responsible for war, torture and death of millions in Germany and Israel after the Third Reich of the Nazis had ended in 1945, knows this title:
it is the title of Hannah Arendt’s clear analysis of what can be so shockingly ‘mundane’. The evil that can be part of mankind, in the guise of everyday people with faces of bookkeepers, such as that of Adolf Eichmann.

Donald Trump these days when talking into the cameras seems dreadfully familiar in his ‘banal’ and complete denial of reality – or sense of responsibility for the community at large.

For many months I refused to write about him anymore, to take any official notice in order to reduce any public effect he craves for with such utter disregard of all that is good or beautiful – or human – or right.

His disregard for law and order in their good sense, for equality or goodness, for better chances for all, and in turn his love for public recognition at any price are shameful to watch in a country such as the USA, who for decades, if not centuries claimed to be saviour of democracy and watcher over the application of human rights around the world.

That Trump still dares to stand in public claiming without showing any remorse or shame that he refuses violence, is only true to  the ‘form’ he has shown ever since he started running for office.

In their Pledge of Allegiance among other things, the US have included the phrase “..and justice for all”.
Let justice be served with all the force the legal system has to offer in the US on Donald Trump, now. It is high time for this impeachment.

Vienna November 2020 – Now, Again, Forever: Peace!

peace dove drawing

The events in Vienna are dreadful and tragic. My heart goes out to all who are affected!

Let’s take care that in everyday life, each day, we know that such deeds never exist in mid-air, unrelated.

(Neighbourly) love, peace and equality are the basic ingredients of a truly peaceful world, some day, hopefully soon.

Self-esteem, appreciation for all around us will help to spread what is good.

And voting for all those politicians, who want better things than just power and money at the expense of many, for the benefit of few. In truth and clear-headed knowledge.

Peace!

Why Large Groups Can Seem Safe – and How to Avoid the Wrong Ones

Human beings and large crowds: an explosive mixture, at times.

My father used to put it quite bluntly: “if  1,000,000 flies sit on crap – you will too?”

Large crowds and also large groups can be wrong and they can be dangerous. In politics, they can cause dreadful movements, such as the Nazis were during the Third Reich, my favourite example, because so close and real in history.

There are sects that make people tools in the hands of their ‘leaders’ for a religious cause.

There are other kinds of groups.

Why do people in everyday life seek crowds or a group to join? Why do we look for confirmation of our views in a group, sometimes even just family or friends?

To feel safe – or safer.
Because we feel we are being accepted with what we feel or think. To feel less insecure or threatened, or more proud of ourselves, since we are part of a larger ‘body of common interests’.

This can be important. Human beings since the dawn of time were not meant to exist on their own.

Also, in worthy causes, a group makes us stronger, for example peacefully, non-violently fighting for environmental change, by protesting in the streets.
Joining a group for child protection. Or for the protection of women. To do good for those who are less fortunate than we are, who live on the streets perhaps.

To share joy and make it manifold!

But how can we judge if a cause is worthy? Especially if you feel already insecure or threatened.

Fear can be the worst counsellor!

The beginning of it all is respect:

  • For oneself.
  • For others.
  • For all living beings.

Working at self-esteem can be a good starting point.

But how does respect for myself feel and how can I get over the fear, since others are there that threaten me – or seem to do so?

That’s a tough one. I think there are times when easy solutions can be even more dangerous.

The best couple of ways I feel can help, are these:

  • Learn a method of self-defense that teaches respect for a sparring partner. This will influence your way of treating yourself and others – respectfully.
  • Join a good group of similar-minded people.
    • Find them by using the values given above – or use the United Nations’ Human Rights Declaration, as a yardstick.
  • Have patience and keep the ultimate worthy goal in mind:

keeping the peace in peaceful coexistence.

Religious Books, Truth, Knowledge – and the Fellow Being!

Religious books these days are taken as basis to judge people. As if people following Islamic traditions were equal to what is found in the Koran.
As if every Christian you can meet would be exactly the way the bible states.

A more stupid approach cannot be imagined: people who study religion for a living, who are either university fellows or academics in the field of one religion or even religions as a subject, will tell you how contradictory the bible can be in only ‘one book’.
Take the old and the new testament and place them side by side and find out what values are purported there:
you will be amazed.

Compare Versions and Ages

Take the Koran and study its Suras and find out how many of them are really applicable to modern life.
How much of it was dependent on living conditions and then recent changes ~1400 years ago!

There have been researchers who found that society before it was not only matriarchal – which basically means, women were considered to be the most important members of society and the ones who were free to choose their ‘mate’ when and how they thought fit.
It is said they would suspend a little bouquet of herbs in a certain place at their house’s front door to indicate to the current partner that he was free to leave because they had found someone else.

These researches are still in dispute among the traditional scientists of these fields. Some people would perhaps refute them just because they cannot bear the idea that things could have been so much more in favour of women.

Be that as it may: matriarchy and matrilinear societies and religions exist to this day. Matriarchy as the earliest form of society has been established!

To this day, in Jewish religion, the religious membership of a newborn is determined by the membership of the mother: is the mother a Jew, the newborn will be too.

Findings

What I am driving at with all this:
Religious books or scrolls are just that: books, with a partly very long established tradition of reading and interpreting them in the respective religious body.
Historians and social scientists were among the first who dared looking for the truth behind it.

And if you do only for a few minutes around Europe with the bible, as I suggested above, and afterwards go into the ‘streets’ of your home town and try and find people that are like that… I’ll hand it to you!

So, stop comparing the Koran with people living in the Islamic tradition. And stop trying to make out that the bible was always the only truthful basis for the human rights act – in other words:
know them by their deeds!

The Acorn, the Oak-tree and (Young) Ladies’ Self-confidence

This short video is another example of the TEDx series of talks that I like to share. And it could be for you, if

  • you are a young lady between 17-24 and want to learn or be reminded of what can be important to remember for a life.
  • you are a lady of more advanced years and had temporarily forgotten all about it…
  • you are a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, cousin, granddad…or… to find out about what it makes sense to teach young ladies – and why.

The ideas expressed are generalizations to some extent, as is customary for a short talk. For individual human beings and situations we always should look more closely to be as just as we possibly can.
But these ideas provide excellent pointers!
Emotional well-being and self-confidence are essential ingredients for a day – and a lifetime.
So, enjoy, everyone out there, who come by – and like this, too.

(Young) gentlemen, although in this day and age, in many regions of the world it seems too self-evident: you are oak-trees, too!
(Young) ladies, remember: you are an oak-tree already!

Would You Be a Lady? – Corsets, Crossed Legs, Cinderella, and the Bad Back

For centuries in many parts of Europe a very distinct idea of the true lady existed: she was never loud, never obtrusive, never swore, did not know the words to describe the bodily functions and if even a hint of the juicier sides of life was made in a conversation she would faint.

This changed in the course of centuries since the advent of the civil society, when first the equality of men was declared and later on the freedom of men, women and even slaves was proclaimed. Step by step the enlightenment and women’s lib movement acquired a foothold in thoughts, ideas and finally in law: even in the late 18th century, when the French revolution started a whole volley of changes, equal rights for all men and freedom for serfs, women were not even considered, much less covered by such laws.
As had been custom since ancient Greece and Rome, the law considered ‘man’ to be free and have the right to vote. ‘Man’ did not mean ‘human being’, but literally the male grown-up of the society. The eldest sons not even of age were often put to ‘look after’ the woman and younger children of the house, when the father (‘pater familias’) was away.

Women were considered to be weak, a lady was something like a hothouse plant, to be kept under wraps, to be protected and hatched and not to be spoken roughly to. On the other hand she also was considered to be less smart than a man, practically dumb, less able to conduct business or study the serious subjects, such as high literature, medicine or law.

During the nineteenth century it became even more pointed when a ‘writing woman’ was likened to a ‘monster’, in so many words, in articles of special ladies’ magazines, books for housekeeping and instructions on how to properly behave as a lady.

Into the 1950s, the seminars and classes for young women were well known in Germany, to instruct the bride-to-be in how to take care of the man, cook, clean the house and dress, the so-called ‘Bräuteschule’. Down to the crossing of legs, the conversation considered suitable and the poise of the head, the shoulders, how to hold cup and saucer, knife and fork. The most cruel expression of this idea can be found in the German version of the fairy story of ‘Cinderella’: two of the daughters are encouraged to cut off their heel or toe to fit her feet into the shoes for the dance – to ultimately ‘catch’ the prince.

All this made for another kind of corset: the strict rules thus creating a restricted range of body movements caused numerous problems for health and well-being. Among them reduced blood circulation especially in neck and shoulders, legs and lower back.

Today we are lucky that in some parts of the world this has been realized and also leads to a potentially more relaxed expression of emotions and thoughts.
I still think an evening dress worn to a ball and the grace of a dancing woman is fine to look at, and feel – but personally I enjoy it so much more, when dress and shoes ‘fit me’ – not vice versa.