Talks and Decisions – Let Them Hear Our Voices

image showing swarm of birds at sea shore
Seagulls’ calls are impressive – Image courtesy unsplash.com – free license

Politics are no games; they are power plays and diplomatic arenas as well as sometimes ‘hunting’ grounds. If as voting individuals in a democracy we want to stay that, namely have a choice to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to some party’s politics – we need to stay put:

Bother the wrong choices – each and every day. Raise our voices additionally to voting, to stop them, whoever they are: In Brazil (Bolsonaro, recently lost 🙂 ) the US (the last but one president till 2021 and his followers) or Italy (sadly extreme right won this time; but Italy may change their government again soon) in China, Russia or the Ukraine, or any other place:
There are always those that hunger for more, more wealth, more power, more attention. And never have enough. And those that don’t.

Let reason and free thinking prevail – by keeping to be bothersome.

The voice of reason is the voice that can be heard in the United Nations’ Human Rights Declaration – and all who make it their task to remind those other ‘hungry’ ones of those rights.

Each day and any day: Let’s keep bothersome! Push them into the right direction by letting them hear our voices.

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.

 

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.

Fashion or Favourite – The Blindness of Prejudice

image of workers in a foundry at the melting furnace
Courtesy freepik.com – Licensed image

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.

Pick Your Battles or: Live to Fight Another Day

image of a young lady sitting on a mountain top
I have posted about wars. This is about the smaller ones in everyday life. We can make an issue out of every little thing. Sometimes, people will misunderstand it if we don’t. I had to fight a lot in the course of my life. I learned one thing for sure: Many things can become big, even huge in the eyes of the world – or our own – if we make them that. Fighting is proven to ‘take it out of you’: You can become angry, even furious once you have chosen the issue. You start an argument, perhaps. Things even may escalate into a full-blown conflict that rages for years.

And for what, really? So often we will come to realize that a lot of things are not worth the energy, because:
Fighting saps one’s strength. I am not talking about becoming angry – and letting off steam. That’s important in a healthy way and done safely in order to not hurt others. But fighting?

Fighting takes it out of you, the effects can become really dangerous to our system. Because, the way we deal with anger or even frustration is something we can learn – and manage. So much in life depends on how we look at it. Strong emotions are part of our mindset – that is also: part of how we evaluate what happens to us. The first flush of anger may be involuntary – but after that, it’s a choice. To save health and nerves and keep frustration at bay.

Because, also, so often looking back, we may regret unnecessary fights, especially with people we like or love.

That’s why I make it a point in my life – and a plea here for all who are wondering: Pick your battles. The next one may be really worth it.

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.

The Most Important Idea to Remember…

image of a single red rose bloom on a heap of pebbles
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

8 Love has no fear; it does not worry; love keeps no records of wrongs; never fails.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians, 13; translation: New King James Version, 1982)

The bible is called that because the term ‘biblos’ in Greek means book; to many it is the book of books.

I think it is full of wisdom, if you know how to read it. The focus on the New Testament, the Evangelists, neighbourly love at its center.

Other religions are wise too, equally if you know how to read and understand them. To me the most important value we can use to measure that kind of quality is respect for life, human – and otherwise, animals, plants, the Earth.

Again:

8 Love has no fear; it does not worry; love keeps no records of wrongs; never fails.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

„War and Peace“? – War is the Ultimate Failure of Diplomacy

image of map of Russia, Europe Ukraine marked
Image courtesy OpenStreetMap, France

Ukraine, Russia and the US, Europe in between – it is not really new – it is once again the fight for power and money. Gas, weapons and influence on the continent are among the most prominent features of this conflict.
The global balance of power too is at stake, to some extent. Or so it appears.

But:
War is no option. It is no solution. War is driving a knife into the ‚Gordian‘ knot that others have tied – sometimes it‘s not even really ‚Gordian‘, just made to appear that way.

War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy.

War sometimes is just a means to hide even uglier goings-on.

Sometimes it is used as a means to make more money by selling weapons to both parties.

Sometimes it may even be a means to reinstate apparently lost pride. Which is perhaps the most pitiful of all reasons for war imaginable. In my opinion that reason would be sign of a severely disturbed mind.

History is full of examples for that too: Russian opposition in any shape or form is handled so cruelly and severely, not even murder being excepted in subduing any other than the official opinion; it‘s sad, tragic and dreadful all at the same time. Putin for quite some time now has become another sorry excuse for a man.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born and raised in peaceful and democratic surroundings, living in such a country where I can write what I think without having to be afraid.

That the expansion of NATO is viewed with vary eyes from all – others – concerned is only natural. Having Russian influence in Cuba for decades is one of the other variants of these opposing forces.

I could go on writing and perhaps not end till after another thousands of pages, because the principles involved are very very familiar.

Lets learn! Let‘s learn again and make peace. Not war!

Which means:
Learn and start realizing if not already done so, to understand each of the parties’ involved necessities to ‘safe face’. Which is probably the most crucial aspect of international diplomacy.
After that: Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate again, and again, and again. Perhaps that kind of patience can be learned from trade:
No trade, no profit; no agreements – no trade…

War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy – and no doubt about it.

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.

Super-models, Used Cars and TV-Shows – or: The Relativity of ‘Beauty’

image of line of models on catwalk walking away
Super-models are and have been hotly discussed as a concept for decades, at least.
Why? First and foremost, because, they sell:
They sell an idea, glamour, the unattainable, a dream…and the latest fashion. Last but not least, the idea of sublime love…

They seem to be the living image of all those childhood fairy tales, the princess of the piece; again the almost unattainable, the ‘lady in distress’ to be saved.
The prize a man would win and thus suddenly be shot to the top of society from wherever he came, originally.
The woman apparently being a ‘princess’ or ‘queen’ in her own right:
Adored, looked-up to – and earning money by the bucketload…

But the downside of this is also very true and thus this post: Too many people take these images still too seriously and especially young ladies and girls tend to try and follow that example – far too often and far too much.

We should remember this, as a well-known TV-personality put it one day, (translated from German):

He spends lots of times behind the scenes in the makeup artists’ domain and what they do to the models’ faces there would get any used-car dealer into prison…

Since the advent of digital image editing this is even more pronounced, try using a search engine online for terms such as ‘digital makeup’ or ‘digital face lifting’: Just one such search comes up with 5.3 million results.

In our modern digital age the spread of such images is fast and almost global: Far too many people every day doubt themselves and their looks and suspect they might not look fashionable, that is ‘beautiful’, enough.

A big mistake. Because, what happens to people who choose a partner simply for looks is a complete disillusionment as soon as the person becomes known to them in real life.

It is part of that fairy-tale ending we so often presume when not aware (yet) of the image as opposed to reality. I’ve posted about that too, elsewhere.

Love starts with ourselves. Not with ‘eternal, perfect’ beauty. But with the friendship we can develop inside for ourselves, a liking, the ‘love your neighbour as you love thyself‘ concept.

I implore anyone who is in doubt about their features:
Think again! Watch, learn, I am sure you will find I am right: ‘Winning’ someone’s love starts with liking / accepting ourselves for what we are.

In recent years some campaigns have been launched for ‘real beauty realization’.
But the reverse is there still: TV-Shows about model challenges and searches where young women and increasingly men are cruelly put down in front of audiences for ‘not fitting the bill’.

Erich Kästner, German, award-winning poet and writer of the 20th century, put it in a fine poem like this
(used DeepL for English translation in this case, edited manually, for speed):

The dream of face-swapping

When I dreamt what I am about to tell you,
thousands were rushing through that house.
And as if some one commanded it
and their own faces tormenting everyone,
they all took off their faces.

Like taking pictures off the walls for moving
we took our faces away.
And then we held them in our hands,
as masks are held at the end of festivities.
But it was not festive, the place.

Without mouth or eyes, bare as shadows,
each one reached for the other’s hand,
until they had faces again.
Quickly and silently the exchange was made.
Each took what he found in the other’s hand.

Men suddenly wore children’s features.
Women wore beards on their faces.
Old men smiled like concubines.
And then they all rushed, me along with them,
towards the mirror but I couldn’t see myself.

The crowd grew wilder and wilder.
One of them had discovered his face!
Shouting, he forced his way through the crowd.
And he cornered his face.
But he did not find it. It remained hidden.

Was I that child with long braids?
Was I that woman with red hair?
Was I one of the bald heads?
Among the mixed-up creatures
I saw none that was myself.

Then I woke up in shock. I felt cold.
Someone was pulling my hair.
Fingers tugged at my mouth and ear.
I realised, as the fear faded,
that the hands were my own.

Of course, I was not completely reassured.
Was I wearing features that did not concern me?
I jumped up hastily and turned on the light,
I ran to the mirror, looked at my face,
put out the light and went to sleep, reassured.