Contradictions in the world

 

The universality of contradiction. According to Mao Zedong “contradiction exists in the process of development of all things.” Lenin followed the same way of reasoning by stating that there are mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature. Does this mean that things come into being/ are referred to/ are defined only as opposites to other things? 

This way of reasoning is related to the anthropologist’s Claude Levi-Straus, who emphasized the binary oppositions between elements, at the language and culture levels, present in 187 myths of societies around the world. 

My question here is: If this kind of reasoning is correct, then which was the first element to be defined on its own, not as an opposite to something else? 

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 skill of procrastination


deckchair

This morning, I saw a job ad.

Like all the other job ads,

Like yesterday’s job notification,

Received by email.

Sinking in a bathtub of:

Skills, capabilities, abilities

And the sort

Hard and soft

– What can you do for us?

Personality, emotions

Creativity, uniqueness

Useless.

Praise yourself?

Advertise your skills?

Package your persona, neatly!

Desirable skills:

Teamwork, communication, organization

Leadership, problem-solving

Meeting deadlines, flexibility

Describing aliens

Peeping into neighbors’ houses.

Ups, I got carried away!

 

Don’t have them? Next!

Mass-production, conveyor-belt

Possible job seeker no. 249.

And while I adore the sound

Of abstract sounding donkey-dust skills

I, myself, am the queen of procrastination.

Here’s to my leadership skills of:

Peeling oranges, cutting potatoes

Collecting postcards, gazing at the stars

Spreading butter on toast, window shopping!

I had a dream last night:

Every newspaper’s headline was:

“The coolest job of the 21st century

Requires…..tadam!

The skill of procrastination!

Welcome to my kingdom!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

I wish I was a square-dancing lady!

During the most puzzling moments of my life, when I found myself at crossroads unable to make any kind of decisions at all, my mum would tell me that I’d be better off with less functioning neurons. Of course, in a sarcastic way, but still with a concealed indication of yearning. Why would she say that? Obviously, she doesn’t actually want her only daughter to be less able, but she prefers her daughter to be less of a perfectionist and would love it if she’d stop over-analyzing any teeny-weeny detail of her life.
Just to add a bit of a context, for the past two years of my life I have been struggling a lot with becoming a full, responsible adult capable of choosing a career, setting goals and assuming responsibilities. I am overwhelmed by adulthood and I am nostalgic of teenagehood.Sometimes I feel like I am not ready to choose anything that concerns my life, except travelling destinations and books I want to read. Sometimes I am even confused about that. I don’t know if that’s gonna change at any point, the inability to choose seems to be a constant characteristic of mine since as far as I can remember. It started when I was about 3 or 4 and I couldn’t choose between toys, then I couldn’t choose between cakes, then I couldn’t choose between games, then I couldn’t choose between boys, then I couldn’t choose between universities, between countries, between jobs and so on…
I am sure of nothing, and I know nothing. It is like Socrates put it, I cannot affirm any truth or certitude in what concerns my own life. To a certain extent I can only live life randomly and realize on the way what isn’t good or ‘the truth’ for me. The more I read, the more I travel, the more I work, the more I study, the more I experience, the more I meet people, the more I feel and the more I go through relationships the more baffled I am.
The critical way of thinking, analyzing any aspect of any issue, from academic articles, to theories, to art currents and to psychological matters transformed me into a person that self-doubts too much and over-analyzes her path in life. I am way too scared to be living life in the wrong way. Where does that come from? I think it comes from the multitude of choices we are presented with nowadays. I keep thinking what to choose and make scenarios to see how and where I would end up if I opened this door or that window instead. When I am mid-way on a path I feel my option was faulty and I end up relinquishing. I gave up too many times to remember and always in search of something fictitiously better, only to realize that I never actually pursued anything until the finish line. What I did realize so far is, that no matter what I choose, there will always be shortcomings.
An important question to ask is : Am I a fickle product of a capitalist society that needs to feed on new products every 6 months or so?
In my case it is not about the materialistic reality of products, but rather about the variety of experiences and emotions. I hunger for intellect and intellectual ideas, for books, for self-discovery, for exploration, for travels, for happiness, for events, for new music, for new social currents….gosh, and overall I think too much. On top of this, it is extremely hard to adapt to a society that constantly imposes trends and a set of rules in everything. (how we define time, when to work, what to do, how to construct our CV and life path, blah blah…how to be competitive and successful).
I hate all of this. I long for escaping this choice-making environment. I am pretty sure I was born at the wrong time.
21st century is not my time.
I slowly started to envy people. I envy the square dancing ladies and I envy people who fit their society-assigned roles. Why? Maybe because they are more simple, because they use their brains and bodies to live in the moment, to go with the flow without any kind of perfectionist ideas or any ‘what would it be like’ ideas, or how to improve the ‘self’ at all steps ideas…
I envy the square-dancing ladies because they have this fantastic routine of dancing in the evening at the same hours in public squares in Shanghai. Because they enjoy the dance, the music and the community feeling without their mind wandering off to far-away imaginary lands.
I envy some girls back home because their whole existence is to be in relationships and their purpose is to get married, form a family, be pretty, follow the latest beauty trends and go to as many weddings as possible. Why do I envy them? Because they don’t overstep and ask themselves if there is more to existence than this. Because they enjoy every bit of their lives and don’t self-analyze. Of course they have their own issues too, but those go down to what kind of dresses are the best in the fall season (pretty easy to solve, right?).
Thus, I understand why my mum sometimes wanted me to be a woman with lesser analytical capabilities. For my own good…my life would be less troubled.
There are many things I appreciate about who I am, don’t get me wrong…but sometimes my stream of thoughts gets too heavy to bear> forever questioning, on a forever quest to find something, a restless spirit in search of a substance (what, more exactly?happpiness, love, friends, career, spiritual development, psychological self-awareness and understanding, self-acceptance, self-love, language learning, creation etc. )
To end with, I think I am doomed to put forward my own creation during my mental struggles. I hope that one day it will be a novel or a book of poems.

On Utopia

 

After a long period of absence I decided to mark my return to blogging with a hot and controversial topic: utopia, and more exactly, my own utopia.

Thomas More must have been one of the most awesome and bright people just for coming up with the idea of an utopian world, a land of the plenty.

Utopia is useful, if not for anything else, for paving the way to progress and giving birth to innovative ideas and challenging the status quo, for being the seed of change.

After reading Rutger Bergman’s book “Utopia for realists” I started thinking about my own version of utopia. Would I ever see a small part of the ideal world I dream of in reality?

So let’s start…I will pinpoint some of the wrongs of nowadays’ world (from my perspective, ofc):

  1. Huge income discrepancies between the poor and the rich
  2. Materialism and consumerism dominating the world
  3. An overabundance of choices
  4. Overwork and work becoming equal to high social status in society
  5. Supression of creativity, free thinking, emotional expression
  6. Lack of time
  7. The promotion of the superhuman > The superhuman profile: excellent public speaker, amazing social networker, participant at the latest and most up-to-date events, super boss or manager, constant traveller, working out/yoga included in the daily schedule, healthy lifestyle, perfect family member, desirable income, multiple language speaker, active reader and art connoisseur, engaging in shaping others > No free time, but supposed to be satisfied and fully happy with this productive super-packed schedule
  8. Technology, claimed to improve our lives, transforming people into less sociable human beings, bringing about increased feelings of loneliness, superficial friendships, relationships and the dissapearance of tightly-bound communities.
  9. The biggest health challenge of the 21st century: stress, anxiety and mental breakdowns.
  10. If you have the freedom and possibility of being everything and anything, how will you choose to be something? In principle,  you could do or be a bit of everything, but in reality you just end up having identity issues, personality issues, relationship issues,  career issues and all sorts of other issues. Questions like :who are you? ; what path can you choose in life? ; what career is the most suitable for you? ; which country should you settle in? ; who do you love and why? flood your mind more than ever before.

 

My utopian world:

A world every human being respects animals and considers them equal to people. Of course, that means providing everyone with a basic education on animal rights. I would love to see a world where animals don’t suffer anymore because of cruel humans and a world where the ecosystem isn’t disturbed any longer for the purpose of creating more business developments or expanding the human habitat.

A world where everyone has a basic income that elliminates worries about the most standard survival issues (food, roof above their heads, transportation, health, clothing) and allows them to use their energy to be creative and passionate about their life, work, community and leisure time.

A world where we have enough time to listen to our inner selves, to our emotions and moods…thus a shorter workweek (4 days per week)….Many times I was confronted with the following strange feeling: I got sick and therefore I had the chance and right to skip university or work. Normally, I should have felt horrid, because I was physically sick, but at the same time I got that great, hidden feeling of happiness that I was in charge of a full day off, my own day, my free time to do with as I please. I was all of a sudden free and in charge of 12 hours of unplanned, spontaneous available time and I was jumping around with excitement even though I was weak as hell and I should have been crying instead. Why does that happen? Does it happen to other people, too? Maybe because we do things because we should and not because we love to. Let’s face it, more free time to control by ourselves is an amazing idea.

A world where people are free to propose any kind of business or educational ideas they might have and a world that supports the implementation of these ideas.

A world where people are just people with no disctinctions based on race, nationality, gender, age, sexuality  and so on. A world where we all become global human beings.

A world where we have free movement of people and goods and no drawn-up, strict borders that limit human beings’ wellbeing and worldview.

A world where people are more humble and altruistic and where brands don’t matter at all.

A world where the rich and the so-called poor are not far apart in terms of income, education and social status.

A world that appreciates intelligence, cooperation, harmony, collaboration and empathy.

A world that listens with the heart and works things out with the brain.

A world based on love and understanding.

Let’s not get caught up in the details. Does it matter if we will have cities in the sky, if we will move to Mars or not, if we will have flying cars, if we will have human holograms, if we will be able to have robots replace our work?

Nope, because we have not been able to solve our poverty issues, because we still have prejudices regarding our fellow human beings, because we are still selfish and would like to keep the benefits and high standards of living to ourselves, because we ignore what happens outside our bubble of “apparent” wellbeing, because we don’t believe in anything anymore, because we are practical robots that fear to oppose the status quo, because we are frustatrated idealists, because we tell ourselves that society made us like this.

I challenge other bloggers to share some of their utopian world ideas in response to this blog post in the comments section!