Archives for category: The kind of world we are building for our children

‘Are you nuts? or something?
Isn’t exactly this what the Europeans had been doing all over the world? For the last five centuries?
And you attempt to ‘nuance’ it?
Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?!?’

Ashamed of what some of my predecessors have done, yes!
Also ashamed of what some of my contemporaries are doing.
Right now, as opposed to back then.

And since there’s nothing to be done about the past, but to learn from it, and everything to be done about the future, right now, I’d rather have at least some of those statues still standing.

In public squares!
Maybe not in the same places, maybe not in the same settings. But still in public!
Hiding them in museums would mean taking them out of the limelight. Out of public scrutiny!
If we are to learn anything from past mistakes we must focus on them. Putting those statues aside because we feel too strongly about them would only serve those who don’t want to admit mistakes had been perpetrated. Who actually don’t want to own our past.

Those who had promoted Jim Crow legislation had erected the confederate statues as a symbol of their regained public influence.
Obliterating the statues won’t make anything suddenly right. The consequences of Jim Crow won’t disappear, as if by magic, along with the statues. They didn’t disappear when the legislation had been abolished and they won’t disappear now.
If we want to put the past behind us, we must accomplish what has to be accomplished. We need to make things right, not hide away the prickliest pieces of evidence.

Demolishing statues won’t help any of those living in still segregated neighborhoods. Won’t help the children going to heavily underfunded schools. And so on…
Demolishing statues will only help those who will certainly ask, in a few short years, if nothing changes in our hearts and minds:

What more do they want?!?

We’ve even dispatched those damn statues!!!

“The popularity of authors like Deutsch, Sandbrook and Foote – men of very different calibre in many different ways, but all wordsmiths who form history into desirably unchallenging packages for certain kinds of audience – is undeniable. It points to a conclusion that the wider historical profession, from schoolteachers to internationally renowned critical scholars, struggles to overcome. People, and specially people from priviledged groups, do not want historians to tell them bad things about their tresured identities. They will, indeed, forcefully react against such challenges, when given the political rallying-calls that allow them to do so. In that sense, it must be said, they do not want history. They want what they are increasingly getting: a cosy blanket of half remembering and convenient forgetting that is cushioning their slide down the slope to full-blown cultural dementia.”

Cultural Dementia, David Andress, 2018

If you have the stomach for the whole of it…

A few short weeks ago, Trump and his supportes were celebrating the Supreme Court as the last bastion of normalcy. As they saw it…
Presently, the still President of the United States acuse many of the judges, including all members of the Supreme Court, of not having ‘enough courage’.

Consequences?

Who could have imagined something like this a few short years ago?
The most powerfull democracy on Earth being the scene of such a tantrum?

Socialism!!!

Yeah.. tell that to Otto von Bismark

Why did I even mention his name?
Simple. He was the first secular – anti-clerical, to be more precise, political leader to consider a society as an ‘organism’.
He passionately hated the self styled ‘socialists’ yet he had treated the ‘working class’ a lot fairer than the future ‘popular democracies’ which revindicated themselves from Marx’s teachings.

But enough, for now, about Marx’s blunders.

Who among us has not yet read a personal improvement book?
And what was it about?
How to make yourself ‘better’?

How to ‘stand out’?!?

How many of you have read a ‘personal improvement’ book which mentioned ‘fitting in’ as opposed to ‘standing out’ at all costs?
Finding a place where your contribution will make a more significant ‘difference’ towards the shared well being versus making ‘your’ difference more noticeable to the whole world?

‘Do such books even exist?!?’

Yep!
And the first three which come to my mind – well, four actually, are:

The Bible,

The Wealth of Nations – coupled with The Theory of Moral Sentiments, of course,

The Origin and Evolution of Species.

Also helpful would be
What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr and
The Social Construction of Reality by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann.

I’d start with the last two though. And then jump directly to Adam Smith.

Happy reading!

How do we vote?
For a candidate/party or against? Usually against the incumbent… Or against what we dislike…

What do we vote for? What do we expect?
Leadership or stewardship?
Do we expect our elected officials to take us by our collective hand and lead us through darkness or just want them to turn on the light?
To make it so that we may lead whatever lives we choose for ourselves ? For as long as we behave in a generally acceptable manner, of course…

Which brings us to ‘what democracy really is’ and ‘how can we make it work for real’?

First of all, let me point out that no democratic ‘arrangement’ had ever failed. For as long as it managed to maintain its democratic nature, of course….
Secondly, no authoritarian regime had survived for long. And most of them had fallen under their own weight rather than under outside pressure.

You see, even the ‘weakest’ democracies are way more adaptable than any authoritarian regime. The fact that anybody can voice their concerns sheds light on each problem, as it arises. The fact that all positions under the despot are filled with yes-sayers actually blinds all authoritarian regimes.
Furthermore, the fact that ‘we, the people’ has peaceful means to ‘fire’ those who do not rise to the occasion makes it possible for the society, as a whole, to survive ‘the event’. Even if the previous ‘decision maker’ could not find a way out. Faced with the same predicament, an authoritarian regime must first pass through a revolutionary transformation…

Then, if democratic regimes have such an evolutionary advantage compared to the authoritarian ones, why are we still confronted by so many dictatorships?

Because democracy demands something which is in short supply.
Mutual respect among all members of a given society!
Furthermore, democracy works only when the questions seeking answers are about the ‘how-s’ of the matter and not about the ‘what-s’.
A democratic society will remain democratic for only as long as its members continue to stick together. To have a common goal. To share a common weltanschauung.

As soon as a society allows itself to be divided into ‘parties’ promoting antagonistic interests its previously democratic arrangement will fade into ‘mob-rule’. Which is the ante-chamber of authoritarianism.

Being married doesn’t come with such a huge array of ‘perks’.
Specially when you know how to cook a meal. Wash your underwear. Use the vacuum cleaner. Own a dishwasher…

The main ‘attraction’, for me, being the presence of the person I married.
The daily interaction with her.
Sex included!

No, we don’t have it every day! It would be nice but we’re not sexual athletes…
Which brings me to the point I was trying to make.

We’re currently isolating because of Covid.
She had lunch with some of her coworkers, one of them had it – a-symptomatically at that moment, and now all of them are quarantined. Rather mild symptoms for all of them, a week into the whole thing.

‘Isolating’ means that we no longer share a bed. That we no longer eat together. That when we need to talk to each other we wear masks and stand as far apart as the geography of the room allows it.
And, of course, no sex!

Which, for both of us, is a real loss! Specially for me…
I’m almost 60 now. I don’t expect to remain ‘fully functional’ for very long.
Five more years? That would be some 250 weeks…
Loosing two of them for nothing isn’t my idea of a ‘fair deal’!

Hope I made you laugh. Or at least smile.
Even if this isn’t a laughing matter!

Put your mask on!

Smart enough to brag about it when attempting to become the next President of the United States…. at least according to Donald Trump… and to those who had voted for him – numerous enough for him to achieve his goal.

Smart enough or smart, period?

Let me put it differently.
You have no car. Yet you need to go to work and to shop for groceries. Hence you use public transport. Do you pay for it?
What would happen if a sizeable portion of those who use it would find a way to stop paying while still using the service? Those who continue to pay would have to pay more to keep the service going? Or the community at large would have to subsidize it?

You don’t care for my example because you do have a car… Then you need roads to drive on… hence you have to pay local taxes. And federal ones for the interstate highways…
You’d like them all to be privatized? Then you’ll pay gladly?
And how much will that be?
At this point I must remind you of Ma Bell. The telephone company which had to be dismantled, by the government, to make room for the present ‘data revolution’. If prices to move information from one place to another would have remained in the same range as in Ma Bell’s time you wouldn’t have had access to internet today. Unless you were a millionaire…

Taxes, local and federal, are ‘access fees’. If you want to operate – as a corporation or as an individual, out of a civilized place – safe and all, then you incorporate your business/set up residence in a civilized country. And pay the taxes collected by the administrators – read governments, to run those places.

Taxes are too high and or ill spent?!?
That’s a completely different subject!

Most civilized places are run as democracies.
You don’t like the way your money is spent? Or how much of it is collected to run the place?
Then what’s keeping you from voicing your concern? From holding accountable those who misspend your taxes? From doing whatever you see fit? After you pay your taxes, of course…

You feel ‘crushed’ by the majority? Whom you despise, by the way?
Then you don’t live in an actually democracy.
That’s either a ‘mob rule’ – a.k.a. populist regime, or the population is so divided that no real conversation is taking place between the various social segments. And democracy without honest conversation is nothing more than make believe.
I had chosen very carefully the word ‘population’. When something like this occurs, ‘nation’ is no longer appropriate.

Still unwilling to pay your dues?
Still convinced it’s a good thing to turn your back to what’s going on in your front yard?

Still convinced that remaining ‘sane’ is more important than finding out what’s really going on?

Further reading:

“Why arrogance is dangerously contagious”.

A new pandemic is gripping us.
By our egos!
One which is a hell of a lot more dangerous than Covid….

In fact, narrow mindedness is a disease which occurs naturally. It probably affects some 10 percent of the population in ‘normal’ times.
When things are no longer normal – and people become nervous because uncertainty does all kind of ‘funny’ things to our minds, narrow mindedness becomes an opportunity.
A golden opportunity for those who ‘professionally’ fish in troubled waters.

“The Petersons weren’t wearing pro-police T-shirts,” notes Churchill. “They weren’t carrying a banner, holding a sign or waving a black-and-blue flag. They appear to just be listening. But merely listening to an opinion that some Skidmore students find objectionable is apparently enough to get a professor in hot water.”
Professor Greg Patton at the University of Southern California (USC) was telling students in a communications lecture last month about filler, or pause words, such as ‘err’, ‘umm’ or ‘you know’ in English.
Footage of his lecture, which has now gone viral, shows Prof Patton saying: “In China, the common pause word is ‘that, that, that’. So in China, it might be na-ge, na-ge, na-ge.”
Enunciated, na-ge sounds like the N-word, which led several of the professor’s students to complain to the university. Responding to the complaint, the dean of the university, Geoffrey Garrett, told students that Prof Patton would no longer be teaching the course.
“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,” he said.

As a mediator, I was trained to differentiate between needs and wishes.
Between something which will actually make your life easier and something you just fancy.
And to understand the fact that everything we do has consequences.

A father has asked me the other day:
‘What had I done wrong? My only son hardly ever speaks to me…’

‘When did the rift became apparent? How early?’

‘Things went fine until he had become an young adult. OK, we had some ‘misunderstandings’ when he was a teenager but he seemed to had overgrown them… Until sometimes in his early 20-ies when he really rebelled. And told me everything he couldn’t tell me – his words, about how he felt while growing up.”

‘And what exactly were his grievances?’

‘He was cross at the manner in which I was telling him things. At the manner in which I was trying to stimulate him. He’s very bright, you know, only didn’t do much in his life. Not by a long shot! And I kept telling him that. I still do, as a matter of fact.’

‘You see, no matter whether you go to the church or to a brothel, the soles of your shoes will get thinner. This doesn’t depend on where you go. It only depends on the road you chose and the manner in which you shuffle your feet.
Same with words. What you’re trying to say is, indeed, very important. But even more important is the manner in which you try to get the message across. Whenever your ‘target’ becomes angry at you … the message will be truncated in the process… Even more importantly, the ‘target’ will retain a ‘bad’ memory of the whole incident. And if more and more ‘bad’ memories keep piling one on top of the other…
But not everything is lost! The very fact that he took the trouble to talk out the matter with you means he was not ready for a ‘divorce’. Not then, anyway…’

Society exists in two forms.
One in which the individual members have a certain amount of respect towards their peers.
And another one, where John Doe doesn’t give a damn about anybody else. Or even hates everybody else.

The first kind evolves. People talk – and listen, about their problems. Then find solutions.
The second experiences revolutions.

When too many individuals have never had anything ‘substantial’ on their name, and feel they have no chance of improving their lot – because ‘everything’ has already been appropriated by a small minority, that society has a marked tendency towards communism.

Sometimes, too many individuals see their fortunes go down the drain, for no matter what reason. From there, only God knows how, those fortunes go straight into somebody else’s pockets. Any society which experiences something similar has a marked tendency towards fascism.

The problem with both communism and fascism being that they have always failed. Crumbled from within before being pushed into the precipice by those who has seen the situation as an opportunity. As an opportunity too good to be wasted.
Then, if neither had ever survived for long, why are so many people who continue to profess either? So many intellectuals who try to convince their audience that …

Well…, first of all, because ‘intellectuals’ are nothing but regular people. With a twist! Not only that intellectuals have the same ‘passions’ as the commoners – ‘greed’ being the most intense, but they also have a very good opinion about themselves. Hence too many of the intellectuals consider that they are the ones who should be in charge. That they are the ones who know what everybody else need to do if they want to live comfortably.

In a nutshell, too many intellectuals fall into the trap of considering themselves infallible. And ‘deserving’!
Hence those would do everything needed to get what is rightfully theirs.

If a society is ripe for communism, one/a bunch of the ‘intellectuals’ I described above will, for sure, drape themselves in a communist flag.
If another society is ripe for fascism, in a similar manner, one or, probably, more ‘intellectuals’ will drape themselves in a fascist flag.

It’s up to us, who’ve experienced at least one of them, to blow the whistle.
And it’s up to the rest to listen…

%d bloggers like this: