Tolerance – The Basis for Pluralism and Diversity

“Tolerance – The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.”

I have posted similarly about this before.

Tolerance sounds nice and easy and important and altogether a desirable behaviour or mindset.
It is not easy, at all.
It is important and desirable.

Tolerance, as the definition in the Oxford Dictionary so nicely makes clear means to endure something one does not  agree with – or dislikes even. As human beings many, I’d say, more than 50% of most of the population of any region in this world, are raised to certain ideals and rules that they are expected to fulfill or conform with, often no matter what.

The sad and scientifically proven fact is that many people often become sick in mind and body just because of that. The patriarchal society in particular, for example, expects men to be always on the alert, always superior, always cool, calm and collected although that is neither human nor really ‘manly’.

In consequence much more men than women suffer from alcoholism, are addicted to smoking – or worse.

Human history alas is also full of results of the lack of tolerance and the reasons for it.

It seems that many human beings are easily scared by phenomena or appearances that  seem strange or unusual. The idea being that strangeness might mean danger – or at least a more or less subtle way to call ones own being into question.

The sometimes dreadful results of that kind of mindset are wars, pogroms and mass massacres of groups or peoples or tribes that seem to threaten the established order or ideals.

This can happen in everyday life too. When many people are convinced a  certain way of life is the only healthy way – and someone else deviates from that.

I make the plea here, once again, as always: Let’s tolerate anything that is inside the range of the Human Rights Declaration – and create more peace on this earth – every day.

Destiny…? – The Choice of Reaction

image of sunset and a pair of human legs in sports shoes walking

Especially in hard times you comparatively quickly learn one thing:

Walk on, let go, do not look back.

In the bible there is this story about a God-fearing and pious man called Lot – and Lot’s wife. When God in this story tells Lot that he and his family should flee his hometown in order for God to be able to let an earthquake destroy its population as a sign and a punishment, they do so.

And although they are told to follow the guardian angel and on no account look back so as not to be turned into pillars of salt – Lot’s wife is disobedient: She looks back. She is turned into a pillar of salt – and so to this day lives in the (sub)-consciousness of many a Christian or Western person. Not Lot on his own merit, but by his wife’s action, and thus ‘Lot’s wife’ has become immortal.
For looking back.

On the surface the story tells us that being pious means being protected. Yet, I also think that the looking-back part of the story is the most important aspect:

However serious or even catastrophic the situation may seem: Looking back saps your strength and your energy to go on. Continue with life.

I’ve found that true many times, and even though I have seen lots of hardship, pain, suffering and death of loved ones, I also consider myself lucky, compared. I have seen love too, closeness, friendship – and being ‘connected’ to other human beings who know a thing or two about life as well.

The idea seems global really, Buddhism has it, other religions and cultures know it:

Letting go of suffering, walking on, try to avoid pain that may be obvious in advance, from experience…
The choice of what happens is not always ours – the choice of reaction is. Always.

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.”

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.

Being ‘Right’ – or Being Yourself – and Be Human

For a long time I have thought about and observed what people do, what they think, what they fear at times, what makes them cry, what makes them laugh – and I have the strong impression that in many cultures emotion, as a concept, and emotions as individual ‘moving aspects’ in life are highly underestimated.

Partly, any culture in the world has its own rules about what is accepted behaviour and which emotions are acceptable to display. Often there are differences between the sexes in these rules. In patriarchal societies, very often for women to become angry or furious, enraged and loud, is considered ‘unladylike’, at least. In former times, women often were condemned for being crazy and eventually were locked up.

On the other hand for men, being sensitive and easily moved to tears in such societies can mean to be considered disturbed of mind or at least a ‘problematic case’.

We have come a long way, partly because psychology and its insights helped. Partly, because social scientists looked closer at those rules. Because people ask and asked questions and started doubting customary ‘truths’.

We know more about what is human, what is perhaps just this ‘little wonderful difference’, that the famous French saying puts so nicely into perspective.

But many people out there believe, that everybody should be more or less the same, do more or less the same things and then will live happily and healthily ever after.
This is not true. Although we are human beings and there exist lots of similarities, as regards cultural tradition, region of birth and upbringing, gender and family – yet in detail each and everyone of us is as unique as their fingerprints.

As a renowned food chemist put it (paraphrase):
“Many health rules are built like this: When they started researching who had the healthiest feet in the country and then found that such people usually wore size 32 shoes, they made it a rule that everyone should wear size 32 shoes. But if your feet are bigger, this rule won’t fit you.”

Therefore it can be very important, to observe these two things:
Learn more about emotions, as Daniel Goleman called it first, develop your EQ, the emotional intelligence, as opposed to the IQ. The IQ tests certain functions of the brain, bluntly put, analytical thinking.
But humans are more complex than just their IQ results. For quite some time, IQ tests are ‘out of fashion’, and rightly so.

Another problematic ‘fashion for behaviour’, for ‘personality traits’, if any, in certain countries, especially in polite society, for centuries, has been taken from business:
be always cool, calm and collected so as not to appear too eager about a deal.
This almost inhuman dictum may well be at the root for many apparent ‘disorders’ being diagnosed these days, in children or adults.

Secondly, question rules that force you to be, or feel, or behave outwardly what you do not feel inside, at all.
If people have been treated with electric shock therapy for certain ‘mental disorders’ in the past century, it is a ‘shocking’ way to reveal the underlying dogma:
be right, be like everyone else, otherwise you will be ‘made to fit in’.

Another fine simile for this is the story of the farmer, who thought it might be interesting to put a piglet in a box so it would grow into a square pig. That worked nicely.
But one day, the farmer opened the box to take his square pig to market – and with a little ‘plop’ it rounded out again and was natural and pig-like.

So, I think, find out what and how you are, apart from the general rule or rules and be true to yourself, to become human and perhaps healthier than ever before.

Money vs Values? – Money, Dignity and Values!

silhouette of person in yoga post on top of cliff during sunset

Money seems similar to power: It corrupts… sometimes. I think the basic principle is the same as in other parts of life:
it depends on the perspective, on how you look at it.

Someone put it very nicely with these few words:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

For some of those that read my blog, this is not news.
But I feel this to be an essential part of human life, indeed mankind and its history depend to a great extent on money and what it represents or means to different kinds of people.

Basic Concepts

The most important concepts in regard to money to me are: power, appreciation, wealth (and what it can buy as regards luxury).
Dignity.

Appreciation and Dignity

Appreciation as well as dignity go together in this context: many people exist who will accept and even admire someone who’s got lots of money.

In turn that person feels respected and draws on this apparent respect for their sense of self-esteem. And the term that is closely connected, even a synonym, is the idea of dignity.

Dignity

The idea deserves a closer look: dignity is the sense of any person they can have of themselves as being ‘respectable’ and ‘good’, therefore respected and part of the community around them.
And so, if dignity is forfeit, or seems to be, some people can react extremely aggressive and even cruelly towards those they hold responsible for that loss.

Find Distinctions

I would like to differentiate more, to ultimately make independence easier: we may be dependent to some extent on others, for money, for respect and thus simply their support.
But the dignity we retain always also depends on how we look at ourselves.

Money and Dignity?

If we connect these two ideas in a direct relation, namely: ‘money equals dignity’ and then at the first hint of losing money are convinced we’ve lost our dignity in the eyes of the world, this will be true.

Independence in Your Mind and Your Being

Again:
“If you believe it, it must be true.”

As long as you believe that money equals dignity, this will be true.

This is another way of saying that there are always two sides to this coin:
What others think about us.
What we think about ourselves.

And if we find others to be right in this view, this perspective on us, then they will gain power over our thoughts, our reactions and ultimately we may lose our free will.

Money and Values

Self-respect or self-esteem are crucial for being aware of eternal values and living them. And the sense of our dignity translates into these two.

So, to become truly independent of all the dark sides of the want of appreciation or self-respect or dignity, such as greed, cruelty and selfishness, find out about the dignity inside.

Dignity Inside

So, I encourage again, once more, all who read this:
Look carefully into your heart – and find the dignity and appreciation in there, the part that is not dependent on anything the outside world could ever believe.
If you can do that, no one will ever ‘mess with your head’, they will not have power over you, because you have it over yourself. First and last.

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.

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.