Archives for posts with tag: freedom

I recently stumbled upon this book and devoured it.

Then something really interesting downed on me. Maslow’s Pyramid and Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow suddenly had a new meaning.

Basically all three of them say the same thing, using different words and starting from different vantage points. Looking from each of those vantage points offers the traveler a vastly improved perspective on the subject.

Maslow says that after it was able to satisfy its basic and social needs it’s up to each individual to ‘spread its wings’ and determine where it wants to go from there on – ‘self actualization’ in his own terms.

Frankl says that it’s more important to understand than to have.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
No, it doesn’t contradict Maslow, it just starts from where Maslow has set his subjects free. While Maslow had taken his students up to a wide plateau and set them free to choose their own paths, Frankl – after having to endure conditions way crueler than any of those mentioned by Maslow as ‘basic and social needs’ – takes his students by the hand and leads them away from the precipice.
Maslow couldn’t conceive that anybody would go back after being shown the light, Frankl had experienced on his own skin the consequences of some idiots doing just that.

Finally Csikszentmihalyi brings forward a ‘how to’ guide, some very powerful advice about how to reach the pinnacle of our own potential.

From here it’s really up to us.

Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus for the English speaking world) was a man who cherished his ‘libertad’.
He did what he had to do in order to fulfill his dream – finding a new way to the treasures of India.
The mere fact that he discovered a completely different India than the one he was looking for doesn’t change anything about the relationship between he and the concept of freedom.

Yet one of the first things he did when he reached the shores of South America was to catch some parrots, which he eventually brought home with him.

I’m not going to argue here about the fate of the people ‘discovered’ by Columbus nor about that of the black slaves brought later to work on the islands and continents discovered by him. I’ll refrain myself to the fate of the parrots of this world.

Two of them are permanent, even if unwitting, guests of Casa de Colon – a lodging Columbus has used during his stop overs in Gran Canaria.

As we entered the patio the pair was climbing back into their enclosure, after being ‘encouraged’ (squirted with water) by a janitor.

back to your cage

‘Now tell me, do we really deserve something like this?’

chiar asa

During the half hour or so that I spent there they ‘escaped’

La plimbare

at least four times,

here we go again

only to be either unceremoniously carried

papagal pe bat

or even herded back to their ‘playing pen’,

inapoi mars

where their only entertainment was to engage the visitors with their antics

balet pe sarma

or to ‘shave’ wood from their ‘feeding tables’.

wood shaving

feeding station

Now, really, is this the proper way to treat a ‘mocking bird’?

what kind of life is

We figured out how to make an egg stand on its head and we can’t yet understand that there will be no real liberty for any of us until all of us will be ‘free as a bird’?

oul lui Columb

I came across this extremely interesting article about Hitler being a socialist.

After making his point, impeccably, Daniel Hannan – the author – ends up with: “My beef with many (not all) Leftists is a simpler one. By refusing to return the compliment, by assuming a moral superiority, they make political dialogue almost impossible. Using the soubriquet “Right-wing” to mean “something undesirable” is a small but important example.”

To me this article is nothing but another reminder that the the only reasonable alternative to any extremism is the living center, not the dead opposite extremism.

Every time that the functional equilibrium between the content (because of their affluence, carelessness or both) and the strugglers (people who are on a constant quest for new solutions, irrespective of their motivation) has been breached things tended to become rather ugly before coming back towards normalcy.
Just compare how people around the Mediterranean sea used to live during the four centuries straddling AD 1 with what happened during the next millennium, otherwise known as the Dark Ages.
Why? Just because the Roman emperors used ‘panem et circensis’ as their main political concept and the population obliged. Until things went so far that the whole empire failed abysmally…
Same things happened before the French Revolution and before Lenin and Hitler came to power in Russia and Germany, respectively. Nowadays it is currently happening in Russia and the huge gap between the oligarchs and the modern muzhiks is the sole explanation I need for how come Putin has such a stronghold on the Russian people – he is keeping both categories happy by feeding their imagination with dreams about the Greater Russia and their bellies full with the money he gets from selling oil and natural gas.
For people on both sides of the political spectrum to restart a real dialogue all of them need to understand that the other side has legitimate concerns too.
Nowadays most on the left insist on ‘equality’ while most on the right speak of nothing but ‘individual freedom’. And both of them blame the state. The left accuses the government for not doing enough to promote the sacrosanct ‘equality’ while the right blames the state for infringing on the individual’s right to do whatever it wants…  As if equality (of chances) is in anyway different from individual freedom… As if authoritarianism could exist without the guys at the top enjoying a lot  more freedom than those at the bottom of the social ladder… As if functional social order could be maintained without people cooperating among themselves based on mutual respect, said cooperation  having evolved through time and currently reaching the modern form known as “the democratic state”…
I agree with concerned people on the both sides of the divide that the state could, and has indeed in more than one occasions, represent an extremely powerful repression tool in the hands of callous political operators but the answer to this is to make sure that the democratic mechanisms work smoothly, not to thoroughly dismantle the state itself….  Precisely because a skeleton state is a lot more easily highjacked by the ‘political thugs’ than one which has respected and balanced (hence functional) institutions in the right places.
Now please allow me to end my post by extending the invitation made by Daniel Hannan and urge you, all of you, to stop assuming ‘moral superiority’ based exclusively on ideological motives. Ideology is fine but we should never forget that it is nothing but a tool and it is us who do things and are responsible for both our deeds and our fate.
If ideology is diverse enough as to help us see how complex the world really is then we are better off because of it. If, instead, we use our diverse ideologies as filters to shun whatever ‘the others’ are trying to tell us… then it’s curtains for all of us, together at last… but not in the right place.
PS
To read the article – it is brilliant – you can either click on the yellow highlight near the top of my post or here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100260720/whenever-you-mention-fascisms-socialist-roots-left-wingers-become-incandescent-why/.

Some recent developments (I’ll list a few at the end of this post) brought me back to this subject.

So what is freedom?

Consider a lump of dirt someplace in the middle of nowhere, so far from any galaxy that it is under no gravitational pull whatsoever. In theory it would be able to go anywhere, right? With almost no ‘energy costs’… But it has none available … it’s nothing but an lump of dirt…
How about replacing that hypothetical lump of dirt with the most sophisticated spaceship you can imagine and add to it an inexhaustible energy source. This would be ‘free’ for sure, no? But where would it go?
Now add to it a human being. But mind you, one that not only knows how to drive a spaceship but also that can hold his own in absolute solitude. Can you find such a human being? Can you even imagine one?

So, again, what is freedom? Or liberty, if you prefer this word?

So, real, effective liberty is something that has to be perceived and has to be implementable. It’s not enough for an individual to think himself as being free, that individual also needs to be able to exert his freedom. I don’t have any doubt that Stephen Hawking, one of the brightest minds alive, is one of the freest spirits on this Earth but I’m afraid that he is also one of the individuals who depend heaviest on those around him.

And, in fact, all of us are in almost the same situation as he is. OK, most of us can move on our own. But before even thinking about liberty each of us has to become aware of himself, to develop his consciousness. Only we cannot do that on our own. As Humberto Maturana amply demonstrated human conscience has developed, slowly, in time. It was a process that could take place because by some genetic mutation or accident our brains had suddenly grown close to the present dimension but that was not enough. We needed another 70 or so thousand years after we learned to speak (by doing so we were able to exchange ideas and think about concepts) to become what we are today. In Maturana’s words people are not only conscious, they are conscious of their consciousness.

I believe you already have an inkling about what I have in mind.

Liberty is nothing but a concept, one that has been refined by human thinking along our entire history. It was us who defined the notion of ‘degrees of liberty’ which is used extensively not only in statistics  but in many other scientific domains.
And it was still us who came up with such a social arrangement that allowed for free people not only to coexist with slaves but also to own them.

So what is freedom? An absolute (divine) ‘human right’ or a social construct? Both?

The point I’m trying to make is that we should never forget that freedom hasn’t been given to us on a silver plate. All along human history there have been enough people who tried hard to dominate as many as they could and too many who accepted to be dominated. And invariably the societies/communities where social relations were based on authoritarianism have eventually failed while the more egalitarian, the ones where individuals enjoyed a higher degree of freedom coped better and usually survived.

My conclusion of all this? There is no such thing as ‘liberty/freedom’ against all others. The only liberty that can survive long term is liberty with the others. While the first is nothing but a synonym for the ‘Law of the jungle’ (another human concept, the jungle doesn’t have any laws) the second is the foundation for any civilized nation. And when we’ll be able to extend the notion for all peoples (usually the slaves came from outside the people of the slave-owners)  we’ll have lasting peace.

What prompted me to write this? Which of the following do you think is a proper way of exerting one’s liberty? Or free will, which includes proper/professional behavior in every conceivable circumstance?
‘Rights’ are to be exerted no matter what or with great consideration? Tradition/order has to be upheld/maintained at all costs or only as long as it makes sense? ‘Makes sense’ to whom?

teen Jesus     cops student

 

 

women peshmerga    IS police

 

I ran across this article published by CNS News.

Unusual Answer from Panelist Receives Standing Ovation at Benghazi Coalition Meeting.

It is about a meeting organized by Heritage Foundation to discuss the terrorist attack that took place in in Benghazi  in 2012.
At some point a young ‘Muslim student’ asked “…how can we fight an ideological war with weapons? How can we ever end this war? The jihadist ideology that you talk about – it’s an ideology. How can we ever end this thing if we don’t address it ideologically?”.
One of the panelists answered her that ‘there might be some 75% peaceful Muslims in the world but this is of no consequence: they follow the lead of the extremists, they don’t make their voices heard and, because of that, ‘the peaceful majority are irrelevant’ ‘. The panelist’s answer was received with standing ovations.

I’m afraid those people are making a huge mistake.

For those of you who don’t have time to read the article I’ll summarize the arguments used by Brigitte Gabriel, the panelist:
– The Germans are known as peaceful people yet the Nazis imposed their agenda and provoked horrible massacres.
– The Russians are normally peaceful people yet the Communists among them caused tens of millions of deaths, among their own people, without significant protest from the general population.
– The same happened in China.
– The otherwise peaceful Japanese allowed the militarists to take power and to start a war (the Pacific ‘portion’ of the WWII) in which another 12 million people found their death, “mostly killed by bayonets and shovels.”
– “On September 11th in the United States we had 2.3 million Arab Muslims living in the United States. It took 19 hijackers – 19 radicals – to bring America to its knees, destroy the World Trade Center, attack the Pentagon and kill almost 3000 Americans that day,” Gabriel said. “So for all our power of reason, and for all us talking about moderate and peaceful Muslims, I’m glad you’re here. But where are the others speaking out?” Gabriel asked.
The people in attendance began to applaud.”

First of all we need to differentiate between the two situations presented here.
The Germans, the Japanese and the “19 radicals” committed acts of international aggression while the Russians and the Chinese allowed themselves to be overrun by ‘misguided’ people.
Not at all the same thing.
On the other hand the German and Japanese examples are extremely interesting. A significant number of historians agree that the WWII was produced, at least in part, by the manner in which the defeated Germany was treated after WWI – they were imposed crippling war reparations which burdened Germany during the Great Depression so heavily as to produce the set of social circumstances that allowed Hitler to accede to power. This lesson was well understood so after the WWII Germany was included in the Marshal plan instead of made to pay for it. As a consequence we had, since then, 69 years if uninterrupted peace in Europe.
Japan was a ‘closed society’ until Commodore Perry forcefully ‘opened’ it in 1854, at first for trade and then to other western influences: Centralized state administration, modern army, modern management and technology, etc. And in those times the Japanese were treated, by the ‘white people’, with a ‘healthy dose’ of disdain, just as all the other non-European nations were. After the WWII all this has changed and nowadays the ‘peaceful majority’ of the Japanese have found a way, with a lot of help received from the Americans, to build a democratic society not at all different from what can be currently found in Western Europe and in North America.
Something rather similar happened with the Chinese. After Nixon went there and started to treat them as partners they basically stopped killing each-other.
But, unfortunately, this change of attitude didn’t come about between the West and Russia after the end of the Cold War. For instance we call the Ukrainian rebels  ‘pro-Russian’. Are they of any real service to Russia or to the Russian people? On the contrary… Somehow the old habit of blaming the entire Russian people for actions perpetrated by their leaders survived. Maybe because we can no longer understand the workings of a non-democratic society…since we are so accustomed with censuring our leaders.

So…

My point is that of course we have to defend ourselves from the direct actions of the ‘radicals’ – ‘shoot back’, effectively and efficiently, when ever somebody attacks us. Yet there is something else we dearly need to do, at the same time. Find a way to connect, in a respectful manner, with the ‘peaceful, yet silent, majorities’. They are “irrelevant” only as long as we treat them with the same disdain they are receiving from their own rulers. Even worse, confronted with two different kinds of disdain they’ll naturally prefer the one they are accustomed with – the one displayed by their own rulers – so if we keep packing together radicals with peaceful people and treat them as one the result will be that we’ll have to deal with an ever increasing number of radicalized ex-peaceful individuals. I propose we learn something from our parents, the ones who found a way to change the atmosphere between them and the German and the Japanese people. And since we pretend to be wiser – as all children do – than our parents were, how about doing this without wagging all-out wars? (Unless attacked, off course)

 

Supposedly humans are autonomous and sometimes rational individuals. Overwhelming them with huge quantities of information while restricting the scope of that information – with the declared goal of keeping them focused – will shortly reduce those individuals to the status of highly biased and eventually completely programmed hu(man)-bots.

Whole article appeared in Bizcloud, http://bizcloudnetwork.com/salesforce-wear/

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A friend of mine shared this on FB. Thanks Sheeja!

It was then that I realized that I do sometimes worry.

Only I don’t worry for tomorrow. I worry for me.
Worrying ‘for tomorrow’, per se, is indeed ludicrous but wondering what I’ll be doing tomorrow seems only natural for a sensible person.

After all it’s me who is going to live that day so how about living it to my liking, not somebody else’s?
Provided that I don’t hurt anybody in the process, of course.

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“A new study tested whether people believe free will arises from a metaphysical basis or mental capacity. Even though most respondents said they believed humans to have souls, they judged free will and assigned blame for transgressions based on pragmatic considerations—such as whether the actor in question had the capacity to make an intentional and independent choice.” 

OK so people have understood that what sets us apart from the other animals is our ability “to make an intentional and independent choice“.

But don’t you think we need to exercise in order to maintain that ‘capacity’? “Use it or loose it”, remember?

Yet everyday we give up some of our autonomy. Sometime in the name of safety, as in this case, other times in the name of increased efficiency/smaller prices.

No, I’m not exaggerating and no, I don’t think Google does it on purpose.
You see, so many of us have boring jobs where we don’t have anything else to do but to almost blindly follow procedures. This way we slowly become automata. We work (‘operate’?!?) like one, we eat standardized food, we learn the same ‘common core’, we watch the same bland and undemanding TV shows. A considerable proportion of the modern day people exercise their free will and ability to ‘fend off on their own’ only when driving, mostly to and from the workplace. Now we are going to give this up, too.
I don’t think Google is part of a worldwide conspiracy meant to transform most of us in dumb consumers/lame but highly productive workers, it’s just that they happen to have at their disposal what it takes to implement this technology and the rational incentive to do it. What else for the people being transported to do during this ‘freed’ time but to happily Google away on the interactive touch screen those ‘cars’ will come adorned with? Now who would have thought of a thing like that?!?

But I repeat and the study I cited from above proves me right. We should not blame ‘the technology’! It can not choose so it cannot be at fault for anything. It is only us that can decide how to use whatever technology lies in wait under our fingertips.

We are sole responsible for our fate.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against this concept, as such. Wonderful things can be achieved using this technology, just watch the video below. But please use every opportunity you have to exercise your ability to decide for yourself.

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I overheard this in the subway:

– You should stop running around looking for perfection. Not everyone can be like you.
– ‘Like me’? No, that would be too hard indeed!
But reaching mere perfection is not that difficult!’

 

My son, three years away from voting age, is nevertheless aware of what’s going on.

Yesterday he recounted me an exchange he had witnessed on Ask.fm:

– Hey dude, are you going to vote? (“Dude” has just turned 18, the first in their gang to be able to vote)

– No! The way I see it nowadays going to vote is like being asked to choose what kind of shit you’ll be served for dinner. Why bother?

– I think understand what you mean. You compare a country with a bunch of guys having to eat at the same cafeteria who finally have an opportunity to choose between chefs/menus but only to  discover that the available candidates are unpalatable. Rather pertinent comparison, specially after finally understanding that ‘negative voting’ (voting for the challenger only as a punishment for the incumbent, knowing from the beginning that both are equivalent) is not really a punishment for the incumbent but a carte blanche for the next incumbent and a shot in his own foot for the voter.

– That’s exactly what I feel. Finally someone who understands me…

– Well, I might understand you but I’d still go to the polling station. Mainly because I don’t agree with you about all candidates being worthless – even if you don’t get to vote for the winner nor for the second best by choosing someone in earnest your vote conveys a clear message, ‘this is exactly what I  want’.
Even if I didn’t like anyone I’d still go there and strike out everybody on the ballot box, just to send everyone of them a stiff warning: ‘I don’t trust anyone of you but since I care strongly about my fate I’m going to watch closely whatever you’ll do from now on!’
Going back to your example with the cafeteria forfeiting the chance to express your opinion is beyond letting others to decide what kind of shit you’re going to enjoy.
After all not voting is a cross between a ‘blanket approval’ for what ever is going to happen and admitting that ‘I don’t care enough to move my butt to the polling station’. And in this case you shouldn’t be asking yourself anymore ‘what happened to these politicians that made them so callous?’

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