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!

Quiet vs Talk? – Talk and Quiet!

sunset trees lake

Times can be tough, I have seen many and gone through a lot of such times. I still consider myself lucky, in many respects.

I find that talking can be overestimated. But so can quiet. As has been said similarly elsewhere:
there’s a time and place for everything.

Sometimes we talk to others in order to exchange ideas, or information.

Sometimes we talk to others to feel close by being understood and listened to.

Sometimes we talk to others so we can make the heart’s burden lighter, or to let off the steam of anger.

Sometimes we talk to others to clear up things or answer questions.

But often, there’s nothing of the above necessary. We are at one with ourselves and our emotions and ideas.

In such times, being quiet can be the order of the day. Know that our near and dear understand.

In hard or sorrowful times, a good cry can help. Or letting off steam by punching something

Hugging near and dear helps.

Work helps.

And laughter helps. Always.

Storms of Life – Peace of Mind and in the World….

In this day and age many people are surrounded by more and more digital as well as analogue devices and consequently, by impressions, news and ideas. Articles and blog posts (such as this one…) are added to the already huge amount of data every other minute.
I am glad that we have the possibility to retreat into ourselves. At least, I am one who appreciates it.

People on this earth are raised according to regional cultural tradition, to family tradition, sometimes religious ideas and last but not least, according to the latest global trends, as they are published on so-called ‘social media’. In actual fact, some of these trends are just born from the fear of not ‘fitting in’, not be part of the majority.
I’ve posted about this similarly before.

I have to admit I pity people who are unable to relish peace and quiet, because they cannot bear the thoughts inside. The ‘stream of consciousness’ that so many of us feel, sometimes more, sometimes less noticable.

Worries and sorrow can sometimes be hard to bear. There are numerous good ways though, to find rest for the mind. Sometimes it can be necessary to consciously look at all the thoughts that bother or worry us. Let them ‘float past’ though, without holding on to them.

Sometimes emotions can become so strong as to overwhelm us. Depending on what we have learned, it can be more easy to deal with that alone. In the company of people it may become difficult to just let go and have ‘a good cry’, for fear they might be worried.

But the laughter also, and the conscious use of wisdom, comedy and humour are crucial, especially in hard times.

I consider myself to be privileged in many respects: I have a job I like doing (see also my ‘About’). I have enough free time from it to follow other favourite pursuits, such as cooking, digital video editing, reading, music and many more.

I feel that exchanging ideas with like-minded people can be fruitful and joyful at the same time. Like-minded people do not ‘grow on trees’. That’s why I like both: talk – and peace and calm around me.

I also believe that any peace we have the chance to actually ‘live’ in our daily lives can help to increase world peace as well.
An African saying I like a lot, is said to run like this:
“When many little people in many little places around the world do many little good things they can change the face of the world.”

So, greets to all of you ‘little people’ with big hearts and minds out there.
Peace to all.

Neo-Nazis, Politics, Media – and Responsibility!

Again, someone has gone and done it: Hanau, Germany, 19.02.2020: a crazed man kills 9 people who seemed ‘foreign’ and then his mother and himself.
And now, wailing and crying and gnashing of teeth can be heard everywhere, online…

It is important to loudly and clearly state: such deeds are criminal!

But at the same time all the politicians that now stand pompously or even truly sorrowful in front of cameras in Germany, have to ask themselves, as well as the media broadcasting these images and speeches:
why so late?
Why did the discussion go on publicly for years on end without any foresight of possible consequences?

Is it even the bible, book of lots of wisdom, if nothing else, where it says:
“Sow wind and you will reap storm”?

The problems visible now and for almost two decades now are European, and home made:

  • A public discussion for years on all available ‘channels’ of information, newspapers, TV shows, news, fora and talk shows, which spills over into the so-called ‘social media’.
  • This discussion started by a politician in the south of Germany who in the fall of 2016 called the refugees a ‘problem’ for the first time, this time around – and then gleefully taken on by the abovementioned channels, because:
  • News are goods to be sold as well!
  • The discussion continued endlessly, for more than 4 years! Again, on all public channels, trying to ‘find ways out of the crisis’, when there really was none!
  • On and and on droned the specialists and scientists and activists and journalists and political consultants and … everyone who hoped to make something out of this:
  • Over and over and over: ‘a problem, an issue, a crisis’.
  • Then the right wing politicians and other charlatans and up-starts and power-thirsty elements: they are just as bad as any of those that go and do the shooting as such!
  • Because without properly thinking twice, thinking it through, taking care of possible consequences, they take up the yarn and go on spinning it to make a good sound rope – to ultimately ‘hang’ people by?
  • For centuries, sensations, drama, is what draws crowds. For some reason or another.

Learn from history! Learn, learn, learn…!

Some of the lessons are hilariously easy if you care:

  • Condemning the ‘other’ is easy!
  • Send fear into humans with less insight by making them aware of imagined ‘strangeness’ is easy.
  • People, like the AfD in Germany these days – or people like Trump and his party and followers, ‘feed’ on the fact:
  • In ancient Rome the ‘recipe’ worked the same way: make it public – and the crowd, the sheep will go ‘baaahhh’.

So, do not condemn!
Do not call anything a problem, especially about other human beings, if it is not!
And, last but not at all least, also look for that most striking similarity:
the hungry masses, that feel abandoned by the few wealthy who abuse them for the sake of more power and more money:
they are the first to strike out at someone apparently weaker – because to have someone below oneself in the social strata provides some kind of pride to those that have lost even that.

But do not repeat those phrases! Do not pretend to listen to them for the sake of making them feel heard! And then abuse them again…

That was one of the most foolish – and damnable in its consequences – of tendencies a couple of years ago, in Germany, among others. That’s how the AfD got started.

That’s how political parties similar to it can gain power and ultimately throw us into the abyss of another world war, if we and you do not look out.

Because as the smart ones among my readers will know: those abusing wealth and power are not out for the good of the masses, even if they pretend to do so.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Regardless of gender, creed and colour!

Talk to – Talk About – or With…?

When we grow up, we learn how easy it is to get into an argument… Start a fight, even if is the better variant, namely a fight with words, which can get heated too, at times.
And how easily we say things we don’t mean in a heated argument. I’ve posted about some of this before.
And then sometimes we hurt people’s feelings, even those near and dear, nilly willy…

The consequence often seems to be, growing up, that we stop ‘talking to’ people about anything that might seem remotely apt to hurt them. Their ideas, their needs, or wishes, or yearnings…
Instead we talk to people around us about the others.
Thus Peter will talk to Jane about Mary and what she seems to be or want – and he talks to Mary about Jane… but he will not talk to Jane about Jane.

And that can be by far the greatest pity of all, because assumptions we make in talking to others about someone else – and the very often wrong images created about those people – not only present a biased outlook on that person.
Not only can they hamper any future contact since we judge people basically by a ‘rumour’…

Assumptions are like the little story about the man and the hammer by Paul Watzlawick, a hyperbole:
the man wants to lend a hammer from his neighbour, starts remembering the neighbour’s recent looks and his own impressions – and ends up knocking on his neighbour’s door, almost yelling at him, when the door opens, he ‘well could keep his hammer for himself’ for all it’s worth!
While the neighbour mildly wonders what has happened.

Paul Watzlawick, an Austrian, famous in family therapy and communication theory, in Europe and especially the US, who published this nice little book called: “Anleitung zum Unglücklichsein”/”The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness”, 1983

Acting on assumptions only, in addition, we may miss out on the most interesting and perhaps most moving aspects and moments in life…

So, I would like to put this here:

  • Talk to each other! Not about
  • Grown-ups may surprise you too: when you believe they are vulnerable and will get angry right away, they may react reasonably and naturally, even interested in your point.
  • Anyone you would deem interesting enough to talk about could be twice as interesting to talk to!
  • Sometimes, just acting on and listening to assumptions – our own or those of the others, will block a broader view and deeper understanding.

Let’s be less daunted – talk to the other!

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.

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.

The Willow Tree – and the Fight for Life

I like the saying: ‘when you fight you can loose. Not to fight means you have already lost.’

I also remember the principle from jujitsu many years ago, apparently part of its age-long tradition:
‘Be like the willow tree that bends before the storm – and then darts back. Yield in order to win.’

Fighting may sound like: ‘be strong – and hard.’

To me it’s more like this:
‘Persevere – hang in there. And: don’t forget about the breaks!’

Pluralism – Tolerance – Life or: Why It is Difficult at Times to Accept the Other

For quite some time now, research about peace and how to keep it has been going on, at least since WW II, one of the most dreadful catastrophes mankind has seen.

Among the most important aspects are these two, which actually are two sides of a coin:
pluralism and tolerance.
They seem easy in theory, but everyday practice shows they are not. Why?

Because it is human to be afraid or at least intimidated by what is different from ourselves. To judge – and more importantly – feel judged by the ‘other’. The concept, idea, shape or, simply, behaviour that is different from what we are used to.

In ancient times so research seems to confirm, this point of view was a lifesaver: trust only what is the same, difference can be dangerous. Apparently animals still act that way: any smell, colour and shape different from their own seems a danger.

Yet, there are details that can make all the difference: animals that are smaller, insignificant, or have a smell that is considered neutral, may be ignored altogether.

This points to something that makes the whole idea even more poignant:
The other is only made an issue of, if it is not just different – but when it appears to be dangerous!

Unfortunately, this is true for human behaviour too:
Most of the times human beings start fighting, on smaller or larger scales, they do so because they feel endangered.

Xenophobia is the ancient Greek term for the behaviour that is at the root of these situations: the fear of the stranger, the other, the dangerous one.

Peaceful coexistence, if aimed at, needs these few ideas:

  • Remember that with self-esteem and the realization of being human and thus imperfect comes more security by feeling adequate.
  • Start getting to know yourself better to help self-esteem along.
  • Stop thinking that feeling insecure or inadequate is something bad – or very singular. It’s human to feel afraid sometimes, to feel inadequate or insecure. Deal with it.
  • Do not try to feel more secure by making others smaller, in deed, or in words.
  • Most importantly: try to cross the boundaries, get to know the ‘other’ on safe grounds – and start relishing what plurality has to give.

This is the high road to peace – and more respect, for yourself and for others.