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.

Peace and Conflict Studies – How to Avoid or Minimize Conflicts…

Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

Peace and conflict studies have been a part of social science since the 19th century, started apparently in Sweden and were furthered by the US civil war of the 1860s. The basics say that there are patterns to conflicts, the larger as well as the smaller ones.

One thing I learned early in life: Conflict usually starts somewhere and somehow – and if you are not careful, it can escalate and before you know it, things become unmanageable or even unbearable.

My father was what these days is called a ‘coach’. As academic, scholar and a degree in law as well as strong background in psychology he was well known in a large international company: He sometimes told details and explained to us as kids how easily people in offices can get into almost insolvable hassles like Gordian knots that he used to solve with his colleagues, in some cases after years of silence between members of a team.

In private life I observed and suffered from rifts. So, if anyone, I am one who knows. I have read a lot and one thing I’ve learned by studying and my own experience:

Few things in this life are really so big that they deserve angry arguments, conflicts or actual rifts.

Very often it is not so much about the conflict or argument as such – but the consequences. Pride, one of the hardest, immovable and ‘stubborn’ reasons for sometimes dreadful fallings-out, is only one aspect.

That is why I think it is well worth my and other people’s while to think twice before starting – a conflict.

 

The Language of War – Ukraine – Talking Peace

Image of two hands shaking in front of a world map

Talk peace! Now!

You, me, we: if we don’t do something against it – we are just as responsible as the perpetrators themselves. Peace is the order of the day – any day!

Remember: Behind all those diplomatic corps, ‘suits’ and all those wars are just people – each with their helpings of fear, vanity and pride.

War follows patterns: in its creation, starting points – and ends. The patterns of human behaviour can be found when looking at history. The war in the Ukraine and the aggression seen these days on all sides are not new – and they did not start yesterday – or the day before that.

Propaganda is the way in which people talk about something – or somebody. The principle, any time, being:
“It’s their fault. We are nice, we didn’t do a thing. If they do it that way, we’ll hit back.”

If we use the language of war, we should not be surprised to get an answer.

Stopping negotiations is just one of those steps known throughout history as being part of a war.

If we want peace, we have to talk peace – and negotiate. Negotiate again. And again. And again. And again. Until a satisfactory result is reached for all concerned.

The 17th century saw one of the most cruel wars in human history: The Thirty Years’ War. It took 5 years of negotiations to end it. The population throughout Europe was reduced to a 3rd of its previous number; whole regions where laid to waste. Hunger, starvation and sickness were present everywhere.

That one was a war of ‘conventional’ weapons. The next war we may not live through, any of us.

Talk peace! Now!

Iran 2022 – The Protests for Civil Freedom and Equality

Image of Iran windcatchers in Yazd province
Windcatchers in Iran, Yazd province, an age-old system of cooling houses using wind (free license online via Ecosia.org)

Iran: A wonderful country of thousands of years of culture, tradition and cuisine, as well as a highly developed sense of community; a unique, Indo-European language; some of the most wonderful poems by world-famous poets come from there. Almost all of them were largely apprehended and adopted in new forms by European poets, such as Goethe and his “The West-Eastern Divan”.
Hafez who inspired it, also is widely known all over the country of Iran. People put the book of his poems in a central place on the highest festival of the year, ‘Nowrooz‘ – the spring festival dating back over 3,000 years. Or the epicurean poems by Khayyam, to name only two larger-than-life figures.

The main language ‘Farsi’ (Persian) has been preserved over centuries of being conquered and occupied.

Architecture, crafts, painting, music, hand-knotting of rugs – the finest worldwide – there’s almost no field you could mention in arts and crafts that hasn’t great works to offer.

One of the oldest religions, root for all theologies that are monotheistic, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, comes from there: Zoroastrianism

Compared to the long history of all of it the Islamic Republic is comparatively young: A little over 40 years ago now, the clerical part of the society took over power. Clerics had always been one part of the power factions throughout Persia’s – or by its younger name ‘Iran’ – long history, especially since the 16th century AC by Western reckoning.

The people now protesting in the streets of Iran and risking their freedom and even their lives have been raised to another movement of protest by the death of a young woman; a student, who was detained by the police for not wearing the ‘hijab’, the headscarf mandatory to wear for women in public places or in the company of men other than close family.

The civil rights in Iran have been a sad story to say the least ever since the revolution of 1979. Things hadn’t been easy before. The Savak, the Shah’s secret service was present everywhere.

But things became worse, in many respects, after 1979.

This is a reminder to all who care: Iran is worth it, every day. More civil rights and the basic human rights would be a start.


The song above states the reasons for the ongoing protests. Hashtags as sources the singer assembled the Twitter-posts of protesters and made this song called ‘baraye’ = ‘for’…

It was published originally on Twitter or Instagram. It has been retweeted 153 million times, so the information on another retweet I have a URL to. Since I am not a Twitter member myself, I use this post that adequately translates the Persian words with English subtitles on youtube. The singer has been arrested.

Cruel Attack on Salman Rushdie – Award-winning Writer

Image showing Salman Rushdie discussing with mic in hand
Image courtesy Ecosia Search Engine – Free license

After all this time someone managed to hit, cruelly: Salman Rushdie, wonderful poet and writer of award-winning books was attacked on Friday with a knife and hit 10 times. At the moment of this writing he seems to  be out of danger. I hope he will recover and heal mind and body to come out even stronger than before.

The darker side of any religion sometimes is revealed in such acts: Manipulated simple-minded people who actually believe that freedom of press, opinion and religious following could be considered a sin, exist. They existed in ancient history when Muslims and Christians killed each other in the ‘Holy Land’ apparently over who would own it.
When it really was about power in that region and trade ways as well as roads.

In ancient times and these days: Any religion can be abused to manipulate people into cruel deeds, into following someone for the sake of simple solutions in words, in order to feel special, in a dangerous, deceptive safety of woolly-headed idolatry.

The only way out of what Plato described in the cave allegory: People sitting in a cave, with the entrance behind them, a slight elevation and a light on it between, watching the cave walls. Life and its figures passing by the entrance outside, to such humans appear like flickering shadows on that back wall.

To leave that cave of misinterpretation and age-old manipulation means: Train your mind.

Learn about thoughts and ideas. Understand that humans need to respect each other in order to be able to live in a world of peace and joy. To be able to even let their dreams come true which might be just – to live and let live in peace of mind.

To watch over human rights as declared in the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations – is without alternative!

War, Power, Power Plays – Power Balance – The Cruelty of Politics

game of chess with fire in background
Image courtesy pixabay.com – Free license

Politics is about tactics too, the official definition in the Oxford dictionary states, as one meaning:
The activities of governments concerning the political relations between states.
Politics can be wise and be based on sound values – or they are cruel and serve a few with no values at all, except their bank account(s).

Others use politics as a means to heal wounds of vanity, retrieved some time during their lifetime. Like, dreadful example, though one of many, really, Adolf Hitler, ‘Reichskanzler’ (Chancellor of the 3rd Reich) during the Nazi dictatorship in Germany.

Famously applied at the Vienna Academy of Arts and rejected he spent the rest of his life redeeming a fragile self-confidence or rather image.

To this day dictators often are about this more than anything else: Many take the wealth in the wake of power as a means to an end – and bathe in any kind of public recognition and the approval of one part (usually the rich and extremely rich) of the respective society.

These patterns are recurring, and usually do so cruelly – as per latest example, in regard to Putin in his way to power – and the Ukraine.

The Ukraine is part of the power plays between nations and actually the former Soviet Union and its remnants – as well as a personality the likes of Putin who took over this vast country of Russia bit by bit in more than two decades.

His own motives may be hidden in biographical privacy yet – but they seem rather apparent when watching recordings of his public and private appearances: Extreme understatement standing out as the apparently simple guy, the almost nice, familiar neighbour who wears his business suit anywhere, even in parades among numerous highly decorated militia…

Yet, when seen driving big motor-cars and enjoying the fact that he is a ‘force to be reckoned with’, the purported modesty and neighbourly demeanour are revealed as so much window dressing.

In the long run educating people to the values that have proven to be vital to any civil, democratic society, namely the Human Rights Declaration, are the only real weapon we have against such populism and cruel repression.

In the short run, being aware of the balance of power and respect it early on might be the safe route around war.

“How Much Land Does a Man Need?” – Leo Tolstoy, War and Greed

photo of a mountain landscape in Russia
The Russian Steppe – Free License – Courtesy pixabay.com

War is not really about heroes in most cases: It is about people who die, cities that are destroyed and living conditions made unbearable.

War is also about greed.

Leo Tolstoy, one of the great Russians and a giant of literature for so many fine reasons I would not count them all, captured this concept in a compelling story:

How Much Land Does a Man Need?

If you never came across it yet, you may think that even by its title you would know anyway… ‘Try it out.’

The end may be easily predicted – but the whole ‘run’ of it is masterfully done and never misses a step…

Adam Smith in World Politics? – Diplomacy Beyond Popular Images

image of a world map and a compass
Diplomacy needs among other things these very basic skills: The ability to look beyond images, propaganda and popular opinion.

Politics of peace need them too.

The Western world in my eyes is blinded in their view of the world, politics and negotiations by something almost amounting to idealism:

It‘s about money, in any shape or form, we are about it – and everyone else is too.

This is perhaps the most tragic misconception that will endanger peace in all parts of the world again and again:

Indeed certain factions of the Christian religions in the backwater of the rise of civil society around the 13th / 14th centuries claimed, in principle:

Wealth is the sign of God‘s pleasure.

Ever since an ever larger part of the world – especially rooted in the beginnings of the US society with the first actual settlers on the Mayflower representing that idea – are exactly of that frame of mind:
Be wealthy and God is with you.

Most Eastern societies from Africa, over Russia all through Asia in one way or another – in principle that is – value the community and the dignity of the individual even more.

Dignity!

I have spent most of my adult life around all manner of extremely peaceful, knowledgeable and kind people from the Near, Middle and Far East.
I have studied Persian poems and literature and have met other people from around the globe.
I have had the privilege to call books my friends in childhood and adolescence and still do. I studied languages and culture at a prestigious university and earned my M.A. degree there.

The most tragic misunderstanding between the Western world – leaning towards Adam Smith‘s ideas of economy – and the Eastern world – leaning towards trade among dignified, respected and proud tradespeople is that:

Dignity

The European literature of certain times and people as well as later stereotypes about life in the Eastern world – or the ways and means of trade and politics – is practically steeped in this painful repetitive almost ridiculous contempt:
If you know about their ‚purse‘, you know about their interests. Anyone with a contempt for money is stupid.

This is not the real driving force of mankind: Indeed, wealth was always craved, if people had gone hungry or even starved; but dignity and respect in combination with extreme poverty can be thought of in the East – not so in the West.

In the Western world, respect and the consequential dignity of a person – or a nation – are closely related, if not tightly interwoven with their monetary means.

In most parts of the Eastern world this is not the case. Dignity is a fundamental possibility that can be envisioned easily with little or no money.

Among nations dignity is crucial. Treat them with respect, dignity and regard, let them safe face.

And remember this fine part of the Christian bible that actually was originally written in that Eastern culture:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

(Matthew, 25:40)


Author’s Note (April 2022):

In view of the latest developments I’d like to enlarge on this, make it clearer yet. The question after motives and real reasons is not always easy to answer. But if we are really interested in successful negotiations we need to do that. Not always is the answer to ‘cui bono’? : ‘money only’ as stated above.
Usually the attributes associated with money, or more money are actually much more important:
Respect, attention and power in certain circles.
Bluntly put: If it was about taking the Ukraine, they would have taken it long ago.

The question “cui bono” needs to be researched and answered in all directions of cause or effect or impact. Basic human motivators.

The Russian Bear – War: ‘Strength’ or Weakness?

drawing of a schematic bear on green background

Russia and Ukraine – hopes have been shattered today. War has been started. I still believe that negotiation is the only long-term solution to keep the peace.

At the same time to understand motives can help. Looking at it from here in the middle of Europe the actual situation President Putin finds himself in is indeed that of a trapped bear in many ways:

  • He started his own journey down the road of dictatorship a long time ago: The first change of laws to enable his repeated candidacy and elections for him as president was the first sign that power indeed corrupts.
  • Internal affairs are at an all time low: More and more opposition has to be met with more and more arrests and violence, even political murder, also going on for some time now. A political leader who feels strong enough would not use such measures, indeed would not need them.
    • ‘Bullies’ always were like that – and will stay that way if we let them be: They feel weak and in consequence they do everything to appear strong – or what they take for strength.
  • The situation as regards NATO from a Russian point of view is less straightforward:
    The balance of power between the ‘superpowers’ always was a rather pointed one – not to say fragile –  since WW II and stayed that way after the Cold War had ended. As long as the  more verbal than actually written agreements on the limits of NATO expansion were observed there was some manner of peace.

Imagine yourself living in your house or flat attending to your own business – and suddenly a tall apparently friendly guy knocks at your door and when you open – you see him standing there with a ‘big ol’ smile’ on his face – carrying a machine gun…
Wouldn’t you become nervous, in spite of appearances?
I get the impression that for some time now Russia may have felt like that person in the flat, seeing all those friendly people – with weapons … right in front of their place…

Make Peace Not War – Korea, Vietnam, Irak – Ukraine?

Vietnam woman swatting beside coal fire
Image courtesy unsplash.com – Free license (Woman in Vietnam)

The recent US American history since WW II is fraught with wars and interventions practically all over the world. I have posted about their last but one president almost too often in some ways; not naming names can be important.

President Joe Biden is a representative of sanity and goodwill in the Oval Office and millions of people there and elsewhere are grateful, altogether.

Mr Putin may have just lost his way temporarily… or is seriously lost to the good cause.
Yet, even he knows what war means, one part being a dreadfully bitter truth about it: In the short run weapon arsenals and storage spaces will be cleared by it – to make room for new ones…

But one thing is true too:

Soldiers, armies, naval forces – they are not nameless masses – they are people!

Each and every one of them is the son to a mother and father, perhaps a brother or nephew, maybe uncle – and father himself some day; these days also often daughters and nieces, aunts and sisters, in many parts of the wold; beloved, cherished – and remembered for their smiles, their laughs, jokes, games and even arguments or fights.

Wars kill people!

Wars ‘create‘ enemies.
The Russian arts and crafts are sometimes just wonderful, think of Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, or in music, Tchaikovsky, to name only a very few.
There are things that are quite special about the US culture:
Although a very young culture yet, they have artists, writers, painters, poets, musicians: Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Emily Wharton, George Gershwin, to also name just a very few; and a huge movie industry; their laws even allow major, high-budget movies be made that criticize their system and culture.

This is my own trailer version of the movie „Good Morning Vietnam“ that makes the bold move to show both sides of the story of a war and telling it from the only real perspective there is: the human one, the story of people, smart, kind, good or bad.