A small step for a big change: Rational compassion

Big sister comforts and embraces her little brother to alleviate fears and anxieties

Human nature is a concept that has been debated for thousands of years by philosophers,  and more recently by psychologists, a wide range of scientists, but also by common people. This concept is essential to comprehending our own nature and our purpose on Earth. While there is no common definition or shared understanding of human nature, I believe that empathy is a prevalent characteristic of human beings. Whereas human nature differs substantially from individual to individual and is understood and manifests itself distinctly across countries, cultures and communities, oftentimes there is this shared feature of humans: empathy. We can connect that to the fact that across cultures and borders people seem to want similar things, such as health and happiness, in whichever way they might manifest themselves for the individual. The desire to be healthy might be associated with what the Epicureans suggested of human nature: that it is quintessential to our nature to avoid pain and to seek pleasure. Thus, when witnessing suffering in any perceivable way, in ourselves or others, our instinct is to avoid or to remove the cause of pain. That is a natural reaction because our first response to human suffering is feeling emotionally touched and feeling empathy.

The next thing we could do is to act on the feeling of empathy in a rational way. That would bring us exactly to rational compassion, a concept supported and spread by Paul Bloom through his book “Against Empathy: The case for rational compassion”. We could easily employ our rationality to act on our feelings of empathy if we believe ourselves to be rational beings, as Aristotle claimed. How can we use rational compassion in our societies? How can we apply it to make countries a bit better for their inhabitants? For instance, as Paul Bloom suggested, we could commit to analyzing which charities and NGOs are the most efficient worldwide and start by donating a certain monthly amount to these organizations.

More specifically, how can we use rational compassion in my own country, Romania? First of all, the most useful thing would be for each of us to change the perception we have of animals and people in need of support, money or treatment by educating ourselves and by reading more about manners of contribution to those in need. I believe that in Romania there is a high need of workshops and seminars conducted throughout schools and universities that could lead to future generations understanding that less is more. Give a bit of what you have, renounce some of your material possessions and you can help others lead a better live! What is more, there is a dire need for pupils, students and other categories of people to get involved with charities and NGOs, to learn more about these organizations and to start volunteering. The more direct contact with and the more awareness of societal issues we have, the more we can develop the feeling of empathy and act on it afterwards. I also believe that certain sensitive issues that people misconceive should be publicly discussed in educational environments. Therefore, universities in Romania should learn from internationally famous universities that have a variety of societies for like-minded people. These associations provide students with an adequate space to socialize, to generate revolutionary ideas and to create innovative projects. The student societies we usually lack in Romania and we definitely need are: LGBT and feminist groups, animal rescue and animal protection groups, environmental groups. and minorities’ rights groups. Another thing to do is to use crowdfunding and other social platforms to raise awareness of those in need. For example,  someone can create a webpage dedicated to marginalized, peripheral villages inhabited by Roma people, who are in need of better housing conditions, jobs, education for children, a stable source of electricity, running drinkable water and so on. A considerably numerous group of empathy-led people could take everything in their own hands and alternately go to the village to teach the children who do not have access to school.They could also gather second-hand things and donate them to the people in the village and make a campaign to raise money in order to improve the living conditions of the village inhabitants. Last, but not least, a pressure group can be formed to force the local authorities to deal with the electricity and water problems. This is just one possible example, but there are hundreds, if not thousands of such cases in Romania, from poor children, orphans, lonely and sick elders, abandoned animals to mistreated wildlife and so on. I want to believe that we can act on our empathy and transform it into rational compassion for the better of the country. But what Romania needs most is ‘acting’ and people who would be willing to do something. Unfortunately, most people sit and discuss the corruption and the miserable state of the country. Stop complaining, start doing Romania! Life is not going to give you lemons for your lemonade, you have to grab them for yourselves!

The fantastic life of the absurd

 

 

Imagine an all-encompassing society

A ridiculous one, for that matter

So absurd, so out of this world

Even ludicrous stories would stop

And stare!

The most preposterous happenings

Would choke

And swallow nervously.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fluffy, flying mini pigs

In airplanes, and cars, and subways

Ruling countries, being leaders.

Because it’s the year of the pig, after all!

Fair and smart pigs would commit

To a society of the animals

For the animals.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

You, offenders and criminals!

Obey the chain of command!

Walk on a leash,

Do house chores

Help the poor

Live a life of silence

Submit to your master!

You, helpless house pets!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Art, colors and cubism

Are the new currency.

We trade in oil paintings

Sketches and charcoal pencils.

Cash, banks?

All gone!

We trade in beauty, and imagination!

We all get to share!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fat, slim, white, Black

Short, tall, fit, or not

It’s all the same.

No rules, no stereotypes

No ethnicities, no beauty standards.

A meal’s nutritional value

Got into a fight

With the good looks of models and actors.

They both lost.

They vanished.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Bookshops and libraries

Sprinkle and twinkle

In their new roles

As therapists and psychologists.

-For an anxiety and stress-free life

Please, step inside a book, or two

Become a character

Deconstruct your body, your mind

Run in the wild

Of stories and poems

Come back, anew!

 

 

 

 

Ode to the strong

 

 

Tough as a white dove,

Tough as a wounded street dog,

Tough as an injured soldier on the battlefield,

Tough as a crawling baby,

Tough as a hunted deer,

Tough as an old, dying tree,

Tough as human-invaded nature,

Tough as a war refugee…

Cuz they are the resilient!

That’s how tough I wanna be!

 

As tough as the frail,

As tough as the gentle,

As tough as the weak,

As tough as the soft,

As tough as the poor

As tough as the lonely

As tough as the sick

As tough as the homeless…

Cuz they are the resilient!

That’s how tough I wanna be!

 

Word Doodling

Philosophy-will-make-you-rich

 

A canvas is the rationalizing, patronizing 

Tool of a tool of an artist of his hands

Of his form as artist, of his copy of the copy

Of the fake of the fake

As Plato might say, of something real 

In heaven.

But what would a canvas look like

In heaven? 

 

Ideas, just ideas of thoughts, of randomness

Ideas of questions, never answered

Forever questioning philosophy

Ideas that give rise to things big and small. 

What is a chair? 

I am philosophizing in class

But the world outside 

Is full of reproach. 

Why? Forever questioning, forever wondering

The mental issue of the privileged

The higher concern of those…

“Distinct from animals”

My philosophy professor said:

– Without critical thinking

Constant questioning, a.k.a philosophy 

We are like animals!

Or dead, not worth living. 

I beg to disagree

I wish to disagree. 

An animal is not a lesser being.

People concerned with the material

Might do so to survive.

It is a choice, 

to do philosophy or not 

to see the purpose of philosophy or not.

A dog is a dog of the shape of the copy

Of a painting of the absurd of a dog of a question

Philosophy is a 

privileged person’s CONCERN. 

P.S: I, too, philosophize. 

 

I wanted to describe my country in words…

But I can’t. There is so much rage and frustration inside of me that my words would be just foolish, full of hate and no smart insights. I could write a book analyzing the political situation of Romania, the sociocultural background of the country that influences the mentality of the people, but in the end I would sum up everything by saying that this country embarrasses the EU. The most adequate adjective for the country is corrupt. And don’t get me wrong…the geographical position, the natural environment, the long-lost hospitality of people and the dying traditional arts, crafts and customs were great. Things worth loving or liking in Romania disappear rapidly with each passing day. So, nowadays, I hate this country because I hate its people. Some might condemn me and say that I am not patriotic. A lot of people will probably consider me a shame to my own country because I had the courage to state that I hate it. But guess what? I don’t mind. I am a citizen of the world, a simple human being that does not care about its nationality. And ironically enough, I’ve been treated and welcomed better in other countries I’ve lived in. The fact that I was born in Romania does not mean I should be devoted to a place just because it happened to be my birthplace. I didn’t choose it and I am allowed to criticize it and feel the way I do about it.

However, I won’t get into soliloquies here and I will let pictures describe the grim situation. One more thing, why are things the way they are? Because what is rotten comes from people’s inside. The top men and women of the country, ‘le creme de le creme’ are fucking corrupt, thieves with no scruples, illiterates with no kindness or consciousness. Money and materialism rule this country. Everyone else is simply not courageous enough to stand up to what is wrong. Incessant complaints, but no action. People want a top-down change, but the reality is that this country needs brave people who will slowly affect and bring positive changes through bottom-up approaches.

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Soil pollution exactly near big villas. Ok, let’s say you don’t care about the environment, but not giving a shit about how horrible the landscape is just outside of your house? It’s literally visually disturbing.

Impossible…but well, people in Romania live in their own bubbles….an allien invasion or public whipping of school children might happen just outside their houses and they wouldn’t give a damn.

 

Massive illegal deforestation that has been going on since the 1989 revolution. Wakey wakey, who cares about the resources of the country, about the oxygen, the balance of humans and nature, the ongoing climate change? And yeah, I care more about trees, animals and nature because they are kind and never consume more than they need for their own sustenance.

 

Lovely view for any traveler who wants to relax near the river or in the forest. Ha ha, what a brilliant joke! But who cares? I mean, people go camping and they leave tons of garbage behind and throw plastic bottles and remains in the water. Isn’t it disheartening for them and other travelers? Gosh, and they judge Roma people for living and indulging in dirt. But are they better? Nope…And I won’t even mention the environmental aspect of the whole situation. Imagine how annoying it is for environmentalists to see  dumped plastic, which isn’t even biodegradable. How much more efficient would be to recycle all those poor plastic bottles!

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If you are not rich enough or you don’t have caring, ‘loaded’ relatives to pay for your hospitalization and treatment in a private hospital you will end up in a public hospital that looks like this. And let’s not talk about Bucharest or other big cities…they might have a few better hospitals, but the rest of the country is lucky enough to even have these shitholes. People get more and more sick under these disturbing circumstances by breathing unhealthy air and by being in an unsanitary environment where germs spread with the speed of light. And let’s add to these some grumpy nurses who act like they are the queens of the hospital and the patients are beggars. And doctors who never explain anything to you and dismiss any questions you might have.

 

How do old people fare? Not much better, they have ridiculously low pensions and struggle to survive by any means possible. These old people are the ones who vote and would even sell their souls (not to mention their political votes) for some extra cash or food.

P.S: Dead people and Romanian expats from all over the globe vote in Romania in their home cities!  I knew that Romanian people believe in spirits and ghosts, but to go as far as making them vote?

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Poor Roma people. Everyone complains that they are thieves by nature and that they should be exterminated (ha ha, of course there are a lot of wannabe Hitlers in Romania, they would enjoy an ethnic cleansing).

What a lot of human beings who live in Romania associate with Roma people: “They love and indulge in their shitty, dirty, full of garbage environments.” But no one actually takes into account the fact that society pushes these people into miserable slums and that they have no choice or opportunity to improve themselves and opt out of stealing, begging and rat-like living conditions. The areas where they live have no current electricity, water or heating, no sewage systems and cities nearby dump their trash next to the houses of these ‘guilty to be born in Roma communities’.

Hey, kids, you are the future of this country! That’s it if you make it past teenagehood without becoming drug addicts, homeless, construction workers, illiterate, part of illegal prostitution networks or tortured physically or psychologically by foster parents or in orphanages.

strazi-pamant-noroi-1-Copy03 Grigorescu (mare)autostrada

People love buying expensive cars that stand for their material wealth and social status in society. But when it comes to roads and highways….let me tell you that everyone should use off-road vehicles.

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paragina

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The arhitecture of the country is amazing, full of spirit and decaying day by day. We have more architects than buildings in despair. However, they don’t have jobs or work in boring projects or they migrate to China because those people build a lot. And our outstanding old buildings might collapse very soon. Preservation of heritage? That’s considered heretical in Romania.

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Can you believe that Bucharest, a city of approximately 1 870 000 inhabitants, is as crowded during peak hours in the metro as Shanghai, a city of 24 000 000 people? Hell, no. Not to mention the insalubrious conditions and falling down fragments of cement at train and metro stations.

This part hurts me the most and shows me how inhuman some people in Romania are. I really wish we had a police force that concentrated on protecting all animals at any cost. For example, bears’ paws are considered a delicacy and natural furs are paraded by stylish women with no principles. I won’t comment further because animals in this country have no rights. Their lives and freedom are in danger constantly. This country is a human jungle where both people and animals suffer alike.

Animal Kingdom!

 

Life Goal: Open an amazing animal sanctuary for rescued buddies in need called ‘Animal Sanctuary’

 

Do we all love furry, fluffy, small softies? A pupper, a kitty, a bunny, any living, breathing animal that is naturally adorable and in comparison to fellow human beings does not talk gibberish, is sincere and lacks complications. As a companion or as a free being roaming about  our surrounding habitats, animals represent for me the ultimate sacred thing: I respect them, love them and wish to protect them at any cost. Thus, I am a strong supporter of animal rights and I believe that each country should have laws that protect animals, should have proper shelters for abandoned souls and animals in need, should have a police force encharged with the safety of animals  (like ASPCA  in the U.S.) and education for children and adults alike on how to treat and respect our lovely friends who give us nothing but love.

But, unfortunately the should I mentioned above is more like a best case scenario. In reality, society is overflowed with cases of mistreated animals, with human beings who hate animals, who don’t understand them or who are scared of them. It is all around us. Directly in the media or in the invisible web of information that flows through a city’s veins in poor, developing countries that care not for our furry friends, but for the development of their economy at any cost.  In veiled, isolated cases and in subtle informational layers of connoisseurs groups in well off countries. It is distressing to see that happening.

A few weeks back I had a revelation concerning my future goals. I would like to make my own start-up, a shelter that will function as a social enterprise. It will be a safe haven for rescued dogs, cats, bunnies, mini pigs, hamsters and so on. I imagine it to be an amazing colorful space full of pillows, shelves, books, toys, bones, snacks, small obstacle courses for animals. They will sleep comfortably there on soft mattresses, play, enjoy life and have a huge adjacent garden or forest to wander through and run around. Of course, the end purpose of the shelter will be to find loving families to adopt the animals. In order to raise the funds to feed the animals, buy toys, vaccinate them and take them to the vet I will offer animal training services, I will run a small animal cafe, produce handmade animal themed objects, offer day visits to people who want to play and caress animals for a certain cost and sell toys and food for animals. All the ensuing profit will go to rescuing animals and creating an excellent huge common shelter home for them.

How did I realize I want to do this? First of all, I love animals so much that I become miserable when I see them lonely, unloved or mistreated. And the more I live the more I see this happening all around me. In Romania, dog shelters are vile. They barely have any space, dogs are infested with ticks, flees and suffer from various health problems. On top of that they have no toys, they hardly get fed and when they do, the food is some leftover dry bread crust soaked in water. To top that they get no affection and no space to play or to enjoy their lives.

In Shanghai there is no actual physical shelter so all the rescued animals go to individuals who are willing to them for some limited time. Thus, a lot of them are left on the street, in bushes, in garbage collection areas because there aren’t enough people who are good-hearted enough or who wish to ‘burden themselves’ with these poor souls in need of help. Another problem are the so-called animal cafes in Shanghai.  I visited one recently and I was shocked. Why? Because these animals (dogs, cats, hamsters, one bunny, birds) were exploited for the sake of making private profits and they utterly were neglected. They were extremely dirty and they lived in small confined spaces. These animals are used and they have no say in it. After I felt sorry for a small Corgie who had accumulated  ear fulls of cerumen, I offered to clean his ears to the waiters/ animal caretakers of the cafe. My proposition was refused.

Two years ago in Shanghai I faced a situation when I thought that my anger would burst and I would punch a man in the face. Why? Because he was using a monkey on a tight rope leash to make money out of passersby who were allowed to touch or play with the monkey for a few yuan.

Another stomach churning instance was finding out that some pet shops in Shanghai offer boarding for animals for the ridiculous amount of 10 euros per night for caging your companion in a space where he or she doesn’t have any other option then to sleep. These spaces are horrendous and they look like insanitary basements with animal excrements flowing on the floor, disgusting smells and defecation in cages or trolleys where they leave some of the animals awaiting assistance. What is more, they also sell some pets such as dogs, cats, fish, hamsters and Guinea pigs. When I was inspecting the place I noticed 4 small white hamsters and a dead one lying belly up with an open raw wound in a terrarium. It looked like it had been there for at least one day. The puppies were begging to be touched and played with and their eyes said: ‘Take me home, take me out of this hell’. I am crying out loud…what does it take to put in an extra bit of effort and make sure these animals live a comfortable life and enjoy it? But well, in China, in Romania and in many other places on Planet Earth people care more about making money and they would do anything for it, even exploiting and mistreating animals to reach their objectives. I feel like shouting and protesting, but it might be in vain. It is a battle I would lose on a global scale, but I can start my own initiative in the future and make sure I contribute to a lot of animals being rescued and treated properly at least on one point on the world map.

P.S: Let’s all fight together and do everything in our power to improve the livelihoods of animals and our friendly companions. Let’s treat them as we would our friends, family and other human beings…..with compassion, empathy, love, kindness, care and support.

And here’s my beloved Osho, pampered by being called at times: Oshi Boshi.

Oshi