Archives for category: Mindset

People are promised:

Do ‘this’ and you’ll be happy.
Follow these rules and you’ll reach ‘nirvana’.

Some of us heed to this advice.
Only to discover that the only happiness they reach following this path is that produced by a dutifully fulfilled task.
That of following rules…

The catch being that following rules – the right ones, is required but never enough.
Following rules – the right ones, again – is helpful towards survival. Nothing more.

Drive safely and you’re more likely to get there.

Where?

That’s up to you.
There’s no rule about that!

Third-World Country? No. Sorry, it’s Seattle…

There are so many of us who consider that ‘if you can’t pull your weight, you don’t deserve to live’…

On the other hand, there was a moment in time when the Brits had abolished the institution of debtor’s prison… And a second moment, no less significant, has been the Marshall Plan.

You see, for whatever reason, an individual or a business might fail. Sometimes, even a whole continent might fail…

Until recently – historically speaking, debtor’s prison was abolished in 1869 and the last war reparations had been extracted after WWI – it was a matter of ‘one strike, you’re out’. One mishap, for what ever reason – bad luck was enough – and you were practically reduced to ‘servitude’. If somebody else didn’t bail you out, your chances of getting out ‘alive’ were very slim. No matter whether you were an individual, a business or even a country.

Interestingly, the first who was allowed the protection of bankruptcy was the business sector, countries came next – but only if they were sovereign states, while individuals are not yet completely out of the woods.

Now, where would any of you prefer to live? In the XIX-th century Britain or in the XXI-st century Britain? Ceteris paribus. As in ‘conserving all other ‘variables’ ‘. Given the fact that hot water was practically absent in XIX-th century Britain, I’d prefer the present century anytime.

Was ‘bankruptcy’ the only explanation for the economic take-off which happened after the second half of the XIX-th century?
Probably not but it surely helped. Just as the present day Europe owns a lot to the Marshall Plan.

Then why aren’t we extending a more helpful hand to more of those who have ‘stumbled’?

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/100938

There’s chess and there’s bridge.

There’s managing your resources – on your own, while trying to outsmart – out, in the open, your opponent.

And there’s team-work. An attempt to make the most of what lady-luck had put on the table by exchanging information. With your partner and in the presence of the competing team. This time only the conversation is out in the open, the resources themselves remain hidden. During the initial phase of the competition and, partially, during the end game.

Until WWI, war was more like chess than anything else. Resources were, more or less, out in the open. The soldiers had no other role but to do and die. The whole responsibility belonged to the guys who called the shots. One for each side…

WWI had ended indecisively. Hence WWII.

Each of the winning parties – there had been two victors, had learned something different from the experience.
The Western allies had learned the value of cooperation while the Eastern ‘block’ had reached the conclusion that brute force trumps everything.

The Americans had started playing bridge with the Brits and taught the game to the rest of the world.
The Russians had honed their skills at playing chess. Something they were already very good at.
For a while, the Americans have tried to compete with the Russians. Remember a guy named Fischer? Bobby Fischer?

Soon, too soon, the Americans had given up.
After building a computer smart enough to outsmart all human chess players…

The even worse part was that the Americans had given up bridge too!
And forgot the most important lesson of WWI and WWII. That the victor needs to take care of the vanquished if they want to enjoy peace. To actually win the peace process after they had already won the war.

Which brings us to the end of the Cold War.

Communism – and practically all communist states, had crumpled under its own weight.
The westerners assumed it was something they had done themselves. Declared victory.
And the end of history

Having already given up bridge, they forgot to take care of the vanquished… and allowed Russia – the party who had taken most of the blame over their shoulders, for reasons to be discussed some other time, to slide down the slope inaugurated by post WWI Germany.
Did I mention that Russia was still fond of chess? Very much in love with brute force? And not very fond of respectful cooperation?

Now, that we all try to peek into the future – attempting to figure out how the current aggression ordered by Putin will end up, we need some people to learn about bridge.

Putin cannot launch by himself the nuclear missiles he had been brandishing lately.

Now, can those around him reset the chess board on which they are but pawns into a bridge table?
And invite the rest of the world into the game?

Will the rest of us understand the invitation?
If, and when, it will come?

The way I see it, it makes more sense to tax those who don’t want to get a jab than to bribe people to accept the vaccine.
The vaccinated individual enjoys the benefits, the jab is already paid for by the community… and the community, as a whole, is safer.
You don’t want to be jabbed, for whatever reasons, you should pay for the privilege.

After all, this is a matter of personal choice.

There are three kinds of personal choice which impact the wider community. Regardless of who covers the financial costs of healthcare, people being sick is a burden shouldered by the entire society.

Eating too much.
It can have a whole series of consequences but most of them are of a ‘personal’ nature. You can be a bad example for your kid but that’s about all you can do to negatively impact the health of others through eating too much. Except for the financial implications, of course.

Smoking.
Still a personal choice. But the consequences of your bad habit directly affect those who happen to be around you when you exercise your ‘right’. Smoke travels freely…

“My body, my choice.”
Refusing to ‘put experimental substances into my body’ is, again, a personal choice.
But getting sick with Covid has far wider consequences for the wide community than smoking. Let alone the fact that smoke is visible while the virus is not.
Smoking in a plane won’t give a lung cancer to each of the passengers present but a person infected with Covid breathing inside such a cramped place can directly infect many. And god only knows how many more after the passengers reach their final destinations …

Since the above mentioned decision of the Supreme Court – that government should not tell ‘the people’ what to do with their bodies (unless federal money is involved) – things are getting murkier.
Smoking seats might return on planes. Smoking tables in pubs.
And who knows what else…

Let’s face it!

Santa is a lie.
A white one, indeed, but still a lie.

Then why do we continue to ‘confuse’ our children?
Because for as long as they will remain convinced that it was Santa who brought their presents, they will not pester us with their demands?
It’s easier for us to tell them ‘Santa didn’t consider you worthy enough’ than ‘we didn’t have enough dough’?
It’s a ‘subtle’ manner for them to learn that deception is acceptable? If driven by ‘noble goal’? And who gets to determine how low the benchmark for ‘noble’ must be set for a deception to become acceptable?

But the strangest thing pertaining to this habit of ours is the number of fake Santas hanging in the most peculiar places.
The one above, for instance…
Why would a sensible person – me, drill a hole in the middle of an otherwise pristine wooden door just because his wife loves to hang bearded figurines?

Meanwhile, this guy has become a permanent fixture. He’s been there for years …

The single truth which is accessible to us is that while there is a single truth – we may call it ‘reality’, if you want, we’ll never know it in its entirety.
We may get ever closer to getting there but we will never arrive.

The corollary – which is an integral part of the kernel truth, being that the effort to get closer to that single truth can be exerted only as a collective endeavor. Any other approach will, sooner rather than later, end up in a cul-de-sac.

The sooner we agree about this ‘kernel’ truth, the more peaceful the journey to never get there will become.

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Isn’t it rather strange?

Health care professionals who are not yet vaccinated against Covid-19?
Teachers who are not yet vaccinated against Covid-19?

OK, I understand there are some people who cannot go near a vaccine. For medical reasons. But they are few. And, anyway, most of them do not ‘belong’ to this line of work.

But the rest? What is it which prevents them from getting the jab?
The ‘mandatory’ part?
Why do I care about it being mandatory if it saves my life?

Am I being oppressed for having to breathe in order to live?

Am I feeling oppressed for having to work – as in being useful for other people, in order to lead a decent life?

Is this the real reason for which so many of us, teachers and health care professionals included, refuse the vaccine?

‘I am not going to sacrifice my health for the misconceptions and irrational fears of others.’

I don’t care about anybody else but me?!?

Only time can judge this.

Which was smarter.
To accept the vaccine – and contribute to the general well being, assuming the non-0 risk involved.
Or to weather the storm. Hoping the pandemic will die on its own. And/or that enough of the others will get the jab.

But to find out what time will have decided, each of us must live. Must survive the pandemic.

And here’s the catch.
The strongest amongst us will survive. Without a mask. Without a vaccine.
While many of those who didn’t have to die will have gone under.

But what kind of a world will that be?

Dog eat dog?

Are we OK with that?
Is this what we want to leave behind?

I was arguing in my previous post that our job is to determine meaning.

And to steer our actions in such a manner as to disturb as little as possible the natural equilibrium.
Primum non nocere.
The most important thing is to not endanger survival. Of everybody and of everything.

Please compare the next two memes.

Which one makes more sense?
What each of them tells us about how their respective author sees us, the rest of the people?

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Driven by hunger, trained by habit and enhanced by hope.

That’s how we, humans – a.k.a. conscious animals – operate.

Hunger must be satisfied.
Animals do it instinctively. They can be trained, some of them, only that training is based solely on memory and reward. Their individual contribution to the end result is small.

Humans do it conscientiously. As in ‘on purpose’. They identify first the available food sources – according to their training, rank them – according to their acquired tastes and to the relative ease with which food can be obtained from each of them, and proceed to feed themselves only after all these steps had been performed. However perfunctorily.
It is easy to notice that here individuals have a lot more lee-way. Their contributions to the process can be substantial.

In all of those three phases. And beyond.

When choosing.

When ‘training’ others how to choose.

And when determining that we’ve had enough. That time is ripe to let others feed themselves.

Why are all these people fleeing? From their own country?
Because the Taliban have arrived?

Why had the 300 000 strong, and well equipped, Afghan Army crumbled when left alone to face the 75 000 strong Taliban insurgency?
Because the Afghan government was corrupt? And because “All the major countries – probably except India – in the region had come to terms with the Taliban government.”?

What made these youngsters – very much similar to those above, to choose the Taliban side of the conflict?
And what made the Taliban ultimately more successful than the ‘democratically elected’ Afghan Government?
The Americans deciding it was time for the Afghan People to stand on their own two feet?

As I said at the beginning of the post, we, humans, have a lot more lee-way than the rest of the animals.
None of us is entirely free but each of us has some agency. Some power to influence the destiny of other people.
When exercising that power we’re all influenced by our previously received conditioning and by the present circumstances.
When pressed by ‘urgent considerations’ very few of us remain aware of the fact that present day decisions set the scene for what’s going to happen tomorrow.
When pressed by what we consider to be ‘urgent’ we forget about ‘primum non nocere’.
When caving in to urgency we forget that we are the ones going to live with the consequences of our present decisions.

The Afghans flee their country because they have lost hope.
The Afghan soldiers have caved in because they have lost hope.
The Afghans who have joined the Taliban have done that because they felt there was no other hope.

Who will have to make do in these circumstances?
When are we going to take responsibility for our own fate?
When are we going to start building our own hopes?

Bearing in mind that we have only one Earth at our disposal?
And that if we play our cards right, the sky is the only limit?

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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You can’t have religion without faith.
But not all faith is beneficial to the believers…

Religion is when a community comes together/works better because its members share a common set of beliefs. Of explanations about how the world works. Of ‘values’ which guide day to day life.

Faith, on the other hand, is unchallenged belief in a narative. Can be good – as the Christian faith had been so useful for the Northern Atlantic area of the Earth until recently, but it can also be bad.

It’s not as much the content of the belief which is bad but the fact that the content is unchallenged. Sacrosant!
Christian faith had been good because it had taught us that we were both equal and of divine nature – made in the image of God, and had become bad when nobody was allowed to challenge it. When people were literally burned at stake after being perceived as challenging the established order.

As it had happened to William Tyndall.
For translating the Bible into English…

William Tyndall, Biography of the Father of the English Bible.
https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1501-1600/translator-william-tyndale-strangled-and-burned-11629961.html

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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