zondag 30 juni 2013

2013/22 Telling Truth

Telling Truth

Last week I saw a friend and at one point I said, “I am more engaged than someone who isn’t.” He laughed his butt off, but I said, “Let’s be clear. It is not hard to tell the truth. Maybe that’s why it is not that popular. It seems more fun for those who have tried all their lives to get to the top and have now conquered the throne to investigate how many lies they need to continue as before, not realizing they have changed.”
It has become logical and not really surprising that in many different parts of the world, people are raising their voices because of very simple things. Like in Istanbul, with a protest for a park; in Brazil, because of the price of a bus ticket; and in Bulgaria, because of a convicted criminal who was supposed to get a government throne for himself (plus immunity). Berlusconi made trouble, but he might possibly have made even more copycats who also make trouble…. Anyway. In each of these situations, a few people started up a particular protest, but many more felt it was a good occasion to raise their voices. In the face of massive violence by the authorities (whether ordered by ruling politicians or some police chief), many feel uncomfortable with the situation and soon all of the frustration comes out. It does not take much time before the most elementary of demands become a palette of wishes, desire and hope. It was marvelous to see the people on the streets in all three of these countries speaking with similar dignity. They are peaceful, and they do not want the collective wealth to be spent on the few elite. From that perspective, it was a relief to see Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, compared to Erdogan in Turkey.

On the site of a “philosophical cafĂ©” I found this text that intrigued me:
Identity is a construct that originates in the interaction between a person and his environment, with society playing a pivotal role. That identity consists not only in the image we have of ourselves in relation to others, but also in our ethics. A changing society thus engenders a changing identity, instantly bringing with it other standards and values. This is what we have been experiencing in the last twenty-five years. We are living in a neo-liberal society, in which success is the criterion for normalcy and failure is indicative of a disorder. The new norm is efficiency; the goal is material profit; and the attendant virtue is greed. And none of that makes us happy.

Churchill said that democracy was terrible but the best system available. Being an evolutionist, I do not believe that revolution will make real change, even though it is obvious we must change the system. I guess we better vote people we know better or just wait until destruction takes so much away that we get tired.

zondag 9 juni 2013

2013/21 Turkish Spring

Turkish Spring

Summer has arrived in our country and all week I have been hearing about the Turkish Spring. Once again, it seems we want to sum up complicated events in a particular part of the world in a one-liner. I therefore decided this blog might provide some useful links. Here is the first one. (see below)
I was wondering if my American friends were getting information about what was happening in Turkey, since I think what is taking place there is very relevant. But they were not really getting much. I know in Belgium there have been some demonstrations, but I’m not sure if those concerned Belgium Turks or Turks from all around Europe. Maybe there were more demonstrations around Europe: several million Turks live in Germany, and who knows if they are still going on? One of the reasons the demonstrations in Istanbul got such a boost from the public was the fact that Turkish media, under pressure from the government, hardly reported about the events that were taking place. So, what do people do? Use the channels that are available. Water always finds its way. So these days, we all have gimmicks and tools to spread the word through social media and things like Twitter, the most overvalued information source, became very useful. Maybe we are not so different at all from the Turks. The only difference is the content of the trending topics. In Holland, it was mainly football, summer, Amsterdam, X-Factor, and Justin Bieber. Another difference is that in Turkey, twitter was closed down for a few hours, while in Holland many news items are supported by the opinion of those few twittering people among us. It seems always much too little or much too much.
How much uselessness can be said in short messages? 99%? Better relax. Saber. Saber is pronounced as “sabur,” and has many meanings. It means “patience” but also “reconsider.” It means “take a deep breath” and “add more perspectives to the overview you have.” It means “question yourself again, but differently than before.” Just the sound of the word itself… Sabur.
And I try not to forget what I know, because I have no power over the choice of what gets forgotten. The only influence in terms of choice in that sense is what to learn. Most of the events in the Arab world of the past several years were triggered by poverty, conservatism, dictatorship, hopelessness, and a desire of a new era, of new times. Religion was mainly used to give oneself an identity. Therefore, what is happening in Turkey is highly remarkable. It is a clash between secular people and religious people -- not really between generations, but more between morality and rationale. In Turkey, the secular opinion might stand, or it might be crushed by a combination of religion and politics.

Also, therefore, it is impossible to compare the events in the Arab world with those now taking place in Turkey. One of my teachers in life once told me, “Look, my friend, I think religion is the art of interpretation and politics is the art of lying. Now what do you prefer?” One another day I replied, “I’m not a democrat, but I will defend democracy if threatened by something worse.” So, he said, “If you are not a democrat, what are you?” I replied, “Gnostic.”
“Naten e mire,” as they say in Kosovo every day. “Good night and peace.”