Why Do So Many People Want To Be in a Relationship?

Why Do People Want To Be in a Relationship?

Why Do People Want To Be in Relationships?

Sharing your life with someone else. Always being together: if not in person, then at least in mind. Sharing in the other person’s pain (but also in their happiness of course). Always having an obligation to someone. Not being fully free.

These are merely some of the consequences of being in a relationship. I wonder: what draws so many people into a relationship? Why do so many people appear to have the urge to always have that other special person in their lives?

Is it is to share your feelings and ideas with someone who truly cares about you? Who doesn’t judge you, who wishes the best for you and tries to help you? That might be true, but it seems like you don’t have to be in a relationship to have such experiences. You might just as well talk to friends – who by definition care about you, want the best for you and try to help you – and achieve pretty much the same results.

Is it for sex then? To have sexual intercourse with someone regularly without having to go through the seduction process over and over again? Maybe, but again: you don’t need to be in a relationship for that. You can have sex with pretty much anyone who wants to have sex with you; also with the same person, so that you don’t have to go through the seduction process over and over again. ‘But’, someone might object, ‘sex with someone you’re not in a relationship with is less intimate in some way, than sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend.’ But is it really? Because why would the fact that you are in relationship with someone, which appears to be nothing but a social construct, add to the intimacy of sex? It might be that being in love with each other does, but then again: you don’t need to be in a relationship to have that experience.

So why then, if not for companionship or sex?

Maybe it is to boost our own perception of ourselves. Maybe it is the idea that we mean so much to someone that that person is willing to give up a large part of their lives, time and bodies for us. And the prettier, smarter, kinder that other person is, the more special it is that that person chooses you. And it might just be that feeling of possession that we, insecure humans, crave for, and why we value being in a relationship with someone.

Or maybe it is because it is just the normal thing to do, according to the unwritten rules of society. But one could question whether this is ever a good reason to do anything.

The best reason I can think of is when you plan on having, or actually have, children with someone. For in case you have children with someone, it might only be fair towards that person to devote all your resources to him/her and your children – if only because it might be best for your children, which from an evolutionary perspective seems an important consideration in one’s actions. However, I doubt many teenagers, or people in their twenties, consciously decide to get into a relationship with someone for this reason.

None of this is of course a problem; not if both parties agree to the relationship. But it might shed light on the not-so-conscious reasons that drive people into a relationship.

Come On People: Let’s Cut the Crap!

This is a plea against humanity and its deeply ingrained narrow-mindedness.

For as long as we can remember it has been the same old story: people have different beliefs –> people believe that only their beliefs are true –> people feel endangered by other people’s beliefs –> people find it okay to attack those who have different beliefs. This is the ever repeating cycle of human ignorance: a cycle we – apparently – cannot escape. Just when we think we’ve figured it all out, just when we believe peace is within reach, a new group of people takes over control and yells: ‘Listen guys: this is what we’re going to do.’ This is how far we have come as a species, and it pretty much seems like we have reached the limits of our capabilities: we simply cannot do better than this.

Instead of focusing ourselves on the real issues we earthlings could be dealing with, we are too busy feeling insecure and in need of protecting ourselves against other insecure and vulnerable people. While we could be treating each other as part of the same big earthly family, which could help us in protecting ourselves against the vast and unknown universe out there, our perspectives are so limited that we cannot even come to peace with the only ‘intelligent’ creatures we know: ourselves.

When will the time arrive that we will come to comprehend our ignorance and, which is one step further, accept it? Because only by accepting our ignorance will we be able to move on. Only by admitting that we are all the same in our journey through the absurd situation we call ‘life’, can we can shed of our cloaks of pretentiousness and appropriated authority, and come to treat the earth as our own little cosmic garden.

On a cosmic scale, we are nothing more than a group of particle-sized monkeys, fighting each other over whose banana tastes better. And although none of us has any idea of what ‘the best’ banana would taste like, we keep on acting as if we do. I am not going to beg you to throw away your banana, or to acknowledge that ‘taste is just in the tongue of the taster,’ but it would be so much better for all of us if we could just cut the crap and start making some progress. Let’s go people.

Violence against Public Servants: Should It be Punished Harder?

ambulance

Should ambulance personnel receive extra protection from the state?

Ambulance personnel, police officers and firemen: people that, day in and day out, prevent our society from turning into a complete chaos. They support us so that we can live our lives without having to worry about our human rights being infringed upon. But what if these servants themselves become infringed upon their basic human rights? What if they are violated, both mentally and physically? There are governments, including the Dutch one, that have made explicit their intention to punish violence against public servants harder than violence against ‘regular’ (non-public servant) citizens. But, is this decision justified? And, more importantly, why would that be so?

Let’s think about it. You could claim that abusing a public servant is more severe than abusing a regular citizen because, by abusing a public servant, the perpetrator not only violates the rights of the servant but also the rights of the other members of society who are entitled to the services of the servant. After all, attacking the staff of an ambulance not only harms the ambulance workers, but indirectly also the patient that is (supposed to be) treated by these men and women. The same goes for police officers: abusing these men and women not only harms them, but also the citizens waiting to be helped by the police officers. Thus the physical or mental abuse of a public servant not only hurts the servants themselves, but also the citizens who are supposed to be served by the servants. And therefore, you could say, should the abuse of a public servant be punished harder than the abuse of a regular citizen.

Also, by abusing a public servant you are infringing upon what might be the controlling or correcting power of the state, which might be a violation in itself. That is, public servants are appointed to guard the laws we have set as a society, including the law condemning violence against other persons. Therefore, by abusing a pubic servant, you are not only attacking a member of our society, but you also resist the authority (ambulance personnel, police etc.) a (democratic) society has decided should safeguard our rights. Hence, abusing public servants is more wrong than abusing a regular citizen, and thus should be punished harder.

One the other hand, a public servant is just as much human as a regular citizen. Therefore, you could say, should the abuse of a public servant be punished equally hard as the abuse of a regular citizen. There is no reason why the live of a public servant would be worth more than the life of a regular citizen, right? Just because he or she fulfils a certain position within our society? Isn’t someone’s profession totally irrelevant when it comes down to our most fundamental rights, including the right not the abused by others? If that would indeed be the case, then there would be no justification for punishing the abuse of a public servant any differently from the abuse of a regular citizen.

Also, you could say, the abuse of a public servant is in no way a more severe violation against the state and its controlling power than is the abuse of a regular citizen. That is to say that the violation of another person’s well-being is just as much a violation of a fundamental right as would be the violation of the state’s controlling power, and thus should be punished equally hard. After all: the state’s integrity is no more important than any citizen’s integrity. Hence, attacking the former should be punished equally as attacking the latter.

Personally, I believe that both positions are well defensible. However, I consider the first position to be more reasonable. By taking away another person’s right to be saved or defended by a public servant, more parties seem to be hurt in abusing a public servant than in the abuse of what is ‘only’ a regular citizen. And surely, it might not only be a servants’ duty to assist other people when they are in need; you and I might be just as capable in doing that. This might cast doubt on the idea of granting them an extra form of protection. But that doesn’t change the fact that a public servant is explicitly appointed to fulfil this duty within our society; and that might have to be taken into account.

But what do you think?

Why You Should Always Respect the Dustman

I have been a dustman for a while. And even though my stay in the ‘dustman-community”’ was short, I was long enough to become overwhelmed by the disrespect these people receive from their fellow species members. People are yelling things at them. People are telling them how shitty their job is. People treat them like the true pieces of garbage. I was wondering what the dustmen themselves were thinking about their profession. Were they also disgusted about what they were doing? I decided to ask them.

And this is what they told me: they absolutely loved what they were doing. They were proud of being the dustman of district x or district y. They took care of the streets that fell under their supervision. These were after all their streets, and their streets should not be dirty. One of the dustmen told me very proudly about his dustmen-crew. He said that, within the dustmen-community, his crew could be compared to FC Barcelona; that’s how well they anticipated each other’s actions. Dustman A knew exactly that, when Dustman B grabbed on to a new dustbin, he should be in the process of taking away his bin.

So it seems that people differ, to say the least, in what they like and what they don’t like to do for a living. And that’s a good thing, right? Of course it is. Because the fact that each one of us wants to do something different for a living makes that all the jobs that are required to keep our society functioning are filled. If everyone wanted to become a big time actor, no-one would be cleaning the streets of Hollywood. At least, not for a while. Because the demand for dustmen, and therefore the wages, would increase sooner or later thanks to the ‘beautiful’ mechanisms of the free market.

Also, the fact that people appreciate different ways to make their money provides you and me with the opportunity to make a unique contribution to this world of ours. And – I believe – it is only if you do what you like to do that you are likely to put the most effort in doing it. And, subsequently, it is only when you put serious effort into doing something that you are likely to make a difference. And it the ambition to ‘make a difference’, whether it is by cleaning the streets or by writing an article, that gives that feeling of happiness and fulfilment we are all so desperately longing for.

The moral of this story should be clear: never disrespect anyone or feel pity for anyone because of what they do for a living. Remember that (hopefully) most of us are doing something that we like to do. Be thankful for whatever their contribution to society might be, since it is because of their contribution that you and I can do the job that we like to do. Whatever that might be.

But what do you think?

The Difference between What You Get and What You Earn

In economic theory, it is claimed that if a market would function perfectly, people would get for their products and services whatever it is they contribute in terms of value. And the same goes the other way: people would pay whatever they find a product or service worthy of. But when you take a look at the real world markets, and all the actors in these real world markets, this principle doesn’t seem to hold. Not at all.

I want to show this by giving one example. That of the banker, and the hacker.

A banker invents all kinds of ingenious derivative constructs, futures and other financial products in order to make money. The more complex the better. For if a product is complex, the layman doesn’t understand it. And if the layman doesn’t understand it, it is easy to lure him into what might seem to be an attractive deal, but which in fact is nothing but a ticking time bomb.

It is generally acknowledged that bankers, and especially the bankers referred to above, are at least partially responsible for the credit crisis we have experienced. It is safe to say that a lot of wealth has been lost during the crisis; people lost their homes, their jobs, and governments had to step in to save the day. In other words: these bankers have, at least over the last couple of years, made a negative contribution to the overall utility of society.

Why then do they get paid so much? Why then do they get a high positive utility for acting in a manner that ultimately decreases society’s utility? Although I am not interested in explaining this phenomenon in this post, one explanation could be that it seems like the bankers contribute a lot of happiness, because they (can) create a lot of money, and – in our capitalist society – money equals happiness. Hence the bankers create a lot of happiness.

Luckily, there are also people who do the exact opposite: they don’t get paid anything while making lots of people happy. They are the modern day equivalent of Robin Hood. An example would be the people contributing content to Wikipedia. But also the people behind Popcorn Time; a digital platform at which you can stream pretty much any movie, and all for free. These people make very many people happy – an exception would be the film distributors of course – but don’t get paid anything. Even though, in contract to the banker, their net contribution to society’s utility is positive.

Although we don’t pay the Wikipedia guys and Popcorn Time geeks in terms of money, we can pay them in terms of a currency that is even more valuable: gratefulness and respect. Something the bankers cannot count on. Because after all: there is a difference between what you get, and what you earn.

But what do you think?

Why Euthanasia should be Legal in any Civilized Democracy

It recently came to my attention that euthanasia, the act of deliberately ending a person’s life to relieve suffering, is illegal in the United Kingdom. Being a Dutchman, and the Netherlands being a country in which euthanasia is legal, I was surprised to notice this. But even though I was surprised to read this, I was literally shocked to read that euthanasia is – depending on the circumstances – judged as either manslaughter or murder, and punishable by law up to life imprisonment. Just to put that into perspective: assisted suicide is illegal too, but punishable by up to ‘only’ 14 years.

Arguments
Being fully aware of the fact that euthanasia is a controversial topic, I want to make a claim in favor of legalizing euthanasia – whether this is in the UK, or in any other democracy. The first argument for this claim might sound dramatic, but I believe it hits the core of the issue. It is the following: no single individual has decided to come into this world. Our parents ‘decided’ to have a child, and there we were. From this it follows that none of us chose to live a life with perpetual (and incurable) pain, which is the life many terminally ill people live. So, having been put on this world without his consent, and not having chosen for the extreme pains he – being a terminally ill person – suffers, it would only be fair for any terminally ill person to be able to ‘opt out’ of life whenever he wants to; in a humane manner that is, thus excluding suicide.

Note that I am talking about the option of euthanasia for terminally ill people only. And this brings me to my second point, which has to do with the position of doctors. Let’s ask ourselves the question: what is the duty of doctors? Is it to cure people? If so, then terminally ill people shouldn’t be treated by a doctor in the first place, since – by definition – terminally people cannot be cured from whatever it is they are suffering from. Hence, given that terminally people are in fact being treated by doctors, there must be another reason the medical community has for treating them; I presume something in the form of ‘easing their pain’.

Now, given that we have a doctor and that he wants to ‘ease the pain’ of the terminally ill, I assume that he wants to do so in the best manner possible; that is, by using the treatment that eases the pain most, keeping in mind any future consequences the treatment might have. But what if a patient has crossed a certain ‘pain threshold’, and the doctor knows which great certainty that the patient cannot be cured from his disease? In this case it seems that not performing euthanasia would be equivalent to prolonging the patient’s suffering, without improving the chance of recovery (and recovery is, by definition, absent for terminally ill people). It is in those cases, and those cases only, that euthanasia seems to be the optimal method for easing the pain, and should therefore be applied by doctors (in case the patient wants to, of course).

NHS
It is not that the National Health Service (the ‘NHS’) hasn’t thought about these matters. On the contrary; they have a entire webpage devoted to ‘Arguments for and against euthanasia and assisted suicide’. Although I agree with none of the arguments the NHS gives against euthanasia, there is one that I find particularly wrong, and which they call the ‘alternative argument’. The alternative argument states that ‘there is no reason for a person to suffer because effective end of life treatments are available’. Hence euthanasia should be no option. One of the ‘alternatives’ the NHS puts forward is that ‘all adults have the right to refuse medical treatment, as long as they have sufficient capacity to make a decision’ (which, by the way, in practice has the same effect as euthanasia: the patient will die).

But refusing medical treatment is clearly in no way a valid alternative to euthanasia, for the aims of refusing medical treatment and the aims of euthanasia are profoundly different. While refusing medical treatment is about – clearly – the refusal of medical treatment, euthanasia is about wanting (a form of) medical treatment. Therefore, the fact that there might be another way in which the aim of the former can be accomplished is irrelevant and ineffective from the perspective of pursuing the aim of the latter. Also, the cases to which a refusal of medical treatment might apply are likely to be very different from the ones to which euthanasia is applied.

Car accident
Imagine, for example, a car accident, in which one of the victims is severely injured, and needs acute medical treatment in order not to die. This is an accident, in which no terminally ill people are involved. Refusing medical treatment seems a reasonable option; euthanasia not. Now imagine the life of a cancer patient, who is terminally ill, and who realizes that his suffering will only become worse. Euthanasia seems a reasonable option; refusing medical treatment not.

To end this post with a personal note, I would like to say that I hope that, in this 21st century we are living in, where everyone gets older and older, and prolonging life seems to be the preferred option a priori, irrespective of the specific circumstances, I hope that we can engage in a healthy discussion about a topic so relevant as euthanasia. Of course, many of us are still young and hope not to experience severe illness soon, but looking at the people we love and seeing them suffer unbearably seems to me sufficient reason for not condemning euthanasia straight away.

But what do you think?

Celebrities and Privacy: An Unlucky Combination

Don't we violate a right by intruding in Jennifer Lawrence's private life?

Don’t we violate a moral right by intruding in Jennifer Lawrence’s private life?

While surfing on the internet I ‘accidentally’ stumbled upon a picture of Jennifer Lawrence (a famous, and very pretty, actrice) having lunch with her boyfriend at a London restaurant. The photo was quite obviously taken by a paparazzo. While looking at the picture I thought to myself: why is someone allowed to take a picture of this event? The obvious answer is: because it is legal to do so. But then the next question I asked myself was: should it be legal to do so? In other words: should we be allowed to take – and publish – pictures of someone in their private life? Let’s take a look at that question.

You could say that, since celebrities are – by definition – famous, we (‘society’) have the moral right to know what they are doing. But this is nonsense. For suppose that we would have that right. Then we would be allowed to stalk celebrities each and every minute of the day to see what they are doing: no matter whether they are at home, watching TV or taking a shower. This is clearly absurd. Therefore we do not have that right.

A stronger – but still invalid – argument would be following. Celebrities choose a job that was likely to make them well-known, and they knew this before they started their ‘celebrity career’. Hence they should accept all the consequences of this decision: including being photographed by paparazzi. But is this argument valid? It might be true that celebrities should accept all consequences of their decision. After all: if they don’t, they would lead a miserable life. But that doesn’t mean that all of the consequences are morally acceptable. It might be that taking photo’s, and publishing these photo’s, of someone in a restaurant is not a morally acceptable consequence of being famous. Hence we might want to ask ourselves whether we want to force anyone, celebrity or not, to accept a consequence is immoral. If not, we might have to reconsider our privacy laws.

This is of course not to say that it is morally wrong to take pictures of any celebrity engaged in any activity. A prime minister, for example, should be allowed to be photographed while attending an international congress. But this is not because we have the right to know what the prime minister is doing in his private life. For even if we would have that right, it wouldn’t apply to this case, since the congress is clearly not a private matter.

In case of the prime minister, society has the right to know whether its representatives are doing a good job at representing them, and it is solely because of this right that it is okay to take pictures of the prime minister at the congress. But since by far not all celebrities are our legal representatives, we don’t have the moral right to take pictures of all celebrities at all times – at least not when they are engaged in private activities, such as visiting a restaurant.

But what do you think?

Mr. Nobody: A True Philosophical Journey

mr_nobodyI have just seen the movie ‘Mr. Nobody’, and I recommend anyone who is interested in philosophy to go see this movie. It’s by far the most philosophical and mind-boggling movie I have ever seen. The movie shows, among other things, the lack of control we have over the course of our lives. Each and every moment in life you make decisions that make you go one way or another, and this string of decisions is – in fact – what we call our lives. The movie also portrays a rather deterministic view on life. The butterfly effect, as explicated in the movie, is the prime example of this; even the smallest change in the course of history can make our lives turn out completely different from what it would have been without the change.

Each movie can be interpreted in multiple ways, and that surely goes for Mr. Nobody. Nonetheless, I believe that from a philosophical point of view there is at least one issue that is very prominent, and that is the struggle between free will on the one hand and determinism on the other.

What will follow might be hard to grasp for those who have not seen the movie yet. Therefore I assume that, by this point, you have seen the movie. At first sight, Mr. Nobody is all about choices. That is: what will happen in Nemo’s life given that he has made a certain choice (e.g., to either jump on the train or not). The fact that there is this possibility of at least two different worlds Nemo could live in (i.e., the one with his mother and the one with his father) seems to imply that Nemo had (in retrospect) the possibility of choosing either of the options. And it is this element of what seems to be some form of autonomy (the ‘free will’ element) that returns frequently in the movie. Another instance of it can be found in his meeting with Elise on her doorstep. In one ‘life’ Nemo expresses his feelings for Elise, after which they get married and get children. In another life, Nemo does not express his feelings, and his potential future with Elise never occurs.

However, the true question I asked myself after watching this movie was: does Nemo in fact have the possibility to choose? Or are his ‘choices’ predetermined by whatever it is that occurs in his environment? An instance of the latter could be found in Nemo loosing Anna’s number because the paper he wrote her number on becomes wet (and therefore unreadable). In other words, these circumstances seem to force (or at least push) Nemo in the direction of a life without Anna; a circumstance that ultimately results from an unemployed Brazilian boiling an egg, which is another instance of the butterfly effect. So although it might appear that Nemo has the opportunity to make choices, it might in fact be that ‘the world’ (as in the environment he is living in) has already made this choice for him.

The struggle between the apparent existence of free will and the ‘true’ deterministic nature of the world is just one among many philosophical issues raised by this movie. Another is that of the arrow of time: the fact that we cannot alter the past but can influence the future. It is this aspect of time (the fact that it moves in one direction only) that makes the free will versus determinism issue so difficult (if not impossible) to resolve. After all, if we could simply go back in time, and see whether we would have behaved in the same manner, irrespective of the non-occurrence of any circumstances, we might get a much better feel on the nature of free will. After all, if we would happen to act more or less the same, irrespective of the circumstances we would be put into, we would appear to have something resembling free-will. If not, determinism might be the more realistic option.

Nonetheless, this is a very interesting movie whom those interested in philosophy will surely enjoy. And to those who have seen it I ask: what did you think of it?

Greeting as a Look Into the Soul

Do you pay attention to how strangers greet you? Whether they say, “Hi”, “Good morning” or nothing at all? If you do, you are likely to recognize that the one or two little words – or no words at all – people use in greeting you provides you with tremendous information about the person. It tells you what kind of person he or she is. What does he value? What’s his purpose in life? What does he think about his fellow species members? It gives you an insight into the soul of the person.

Think about it: children often greet you with a happy, “Hi”, when they pass you by, thereby showing that they haven’t been socially conditioned (yet) to speak with two words. Children just greet you in the manner they feel like greeting you: pure enthusiasm captured in often not more than a single word. You will also recognize that children will often be the ones initiating the greeting produce. They will say, “Hi”, first. They are not afraid of being invasive or in any other way disturbing another person’s “privacy”.

Now take a look at an elder person. The ones of 65+. These persons will hardly ever initiate the greeting process. And if you say, “Hi”, they will be suspicious and think you want something from them. Often they look at you slightly angry, awaiting the, “Can I have 10 dollars, please?”- question. They have built a shield in order to protect them from the sorrows and needs of others. “Just” greeting someone is out the question. There’s always a Marxian motive behind every greet. Power structures are dominating the social atmosphere.

What about the 20-35 year old category? These people are often so caught up in their own motives, goals and targets that they pretend to have no time for greeting. Moving in a firm walk, secretly hoping that they will encounter as few people as possible on their path. And the ones that want to greet them with a nod or a, “Good day”, have to be very quick. Otherwise the train of “making money” and ambition has passed you by.

People between 35-55 are slightly better. These people have come to realize that they are not alone on this world and that their lives don’t turn about money only. They absorb the world around them, slowing their walking pace and being receptive to the greeting gestures of others. Often a well-meant, “Hello”, can be heard when they are greeted.

But besides the distinction between greeters and non-greeters, the group of greeters itself can be divided again into many subcategories. Factors to look at in the greeting process are tonality, lexicon usage and facial expressions. If you do this, you are able to unravel a big part of a person’s personality in less than a second.

An example: you are walking your “morning walk” through the neighborhood you’re living. You are about to pass by a guy your age (early twenties) on the sidewalk. When the distance between the two of you has passed the “three meter-point”, you utter an enthusiastic, “Hi”, with a well-intended little smile and a nod. The person responds with an, “A good morning to you”, also with a smile and a nod. From this you can infer that he is a social person, who finds being nice to his species member important. Also, he is likely to be a Christian or in any way conditioned by a religion having taught him to greet others in a formal and decent matter. Why else would you say “A good morning to you” to someone in his early twenties? The person probably has not many friends, but the friends he has are good ones who consider him to be a trustworthy person. The person probably votes for a social party and finds his family more important than his career.

Another example: you meet a student – in his early twenties – in the center of town. You again nod and say, “Hi”, and await his response. You get a firm nod, no smile, and a split-second of eye contact. This person probably doesn’t have much faith in people being essentially good. Although he doesn’t really want to great you, but he finds it potentially dangerous not to do so, so he nods. He probably has a broad social circle, but few true friends. The person is likely to vote liberal and is planning to make a lot of money in – preferably – the banking sector.

You find this analysis of mine far-fetched? Maybe it is. But I believe that when you’ll perform this analysis for yourself, you are likely to reach the same conclusions as me.

But what do you think?

Purpose, Purpose…Where Are You?

Life without a purpose is like shoes without strings: a burden you want to get rid of. An obstacle on your journey to happiness. A pointless gift you wished you’d never had. The only difference between shoes – either with of without strings – and life is that the former have been made for a purpose. They have been made to do something with. Whether it is supporting little children playing football or walking a pretty lady to the office. We haven’t been created with such a purpose. We are empty. We are – and we have to be – the creator of everything we experience, including the things we value: including our purpose.

What is life without a purpose? What is life devoid of any element that might be of any value? Probably more empty than a vacuum chamber. The only things there would be are our minds yelling at us, “Do something with your life!” And it is our duty – not our privilege – to decide what to do with our lives. And that’s the most difficult task we have. Because how can you know what your purpose is? How can you know what you’re true nature is; what your deepest desires and potentials are; what you’re here for on planet earth? And although you might not know, you have to choose. You’ve got only one life to live. You can of course fill your life with different journeys; the journey towards being a good man and the journey towards being a good writer . But there is always that demon of time looking over your shoulder telling you that all you do has to happen in time. No parallel universes exist. Only this world exists. And remember: time is ticking.

And still we only got one life. One life and so many opportunities; so many decisions to make. Each choice we make is a choice not to do something else. And who knows how that “something else” might have turned out? Maybe you are on the totally wrong track. Maybe you are living a life that could have been much better; you could have been much happier; you could have fulfilled your true nature. If only you would have picked the right track. But you don’t know. There’s no handbook telling you, “If you feel down, become a juggler and you’ll live happily ever after.” Or you must count in the Bible, although I haven’t read the passage about the juggler yet.

Yet juggling is what we do; each and every day. We have all kinds of conflicting urges that we want to fulfill. All of them in the one life we’re living. We want to be social; we want to be spiritual; we want to learn; we want to be entrepreneurial…..we want so many things. And the advice we need about what to do should come from either our ignorant mind or our intuition. And our ignorant mind keeps telling us that it doesn’t know what to choose. Therefore we are forced to listen to our intuition for satisfying our longing for guidance. No matter how twisted its proposals might be. You simply don’t have a choice.

If only we could be rabbits. Just fucking around, not thinking about what to do. Just letting ourselves flow on the sea of urges; no interference of the Ego. But I’m afraid we can’t, so we just have to make the best of it.

But what do you think?

Why Fear is More Efficient than Love

Machiavelli is the father of pragmatic reign: the father of the ‘I’ll do no matter what it takes to stay in power’ mentality sovereigns should, according to Machiavelli, have. You can say what you want about his thoughts, but they sure as hell have been influential. At least influential enough for us to be still talking about them, five centuries after his dead.

I want to focus at Machiavelli’s idea that – for a sovereign – it is better to be feared than to be loved. Machiavelli claims this because he believes that people are ungrateful and unable to be trusted; at least, not for long periods of time. Not until they get hungry again and breaking promises seems to be a better option than starving to death. But I want to focus on a different reason for why a sovereign should try to be feared instead of loved. And that is the simple fact that being feared costs less money – and effort – than being loved.

Being loved requires a constant level of investment from the sovereign; if the sovereign, for example, want to be seen as a generous man, he needs to keep on being generous at every opportunity to be generous that will arise. Giving a poor man money is generous, but to stop giving the poor man money falsifies the generosity of the sovereign. And the same goes for being friendly: if a sovereign wants to be perceived as a friendly man, he needs to be friendly all the time. One moment of unfriendliness means the end of his friendly appearance. Being good is simply a much more difficult role to play than being bad. Why? Because people have the tendency to remember someone’s unfriendly or betraying actions better than one’s well-intended or friendly actions.

Fear, compared to love, requires much less investment from the sovereign. That is because fear is based on expectations: someone’s anxiety from what might be about to come. And it is this sense of what is about to come that can be relatively easily manipulated by means of threats; by promising that something bad will happen if the citizens aren’t loyal to their sovereign. And the degree in which citizens are susceptible to the sovereign’s threats, depends in turn on the credibility of these threats. If the citizens don’t believe that the sovereign can live up to his evil promises, the threats will vanish without having had any effects. Thus the sovereign has to make sure that his threats are credible.

He can do this by means of military forces. If so, he must make sure that his army is bigger in size than – or at least equal to – the armed forces of the citizens – which is easy to achieve by making sure that the citizens are unable to get armory: by monopolizing the production – or at least distribution – of armory. This requires a one-time investment from the sovereign. An investment that – in the long run – will yield more benefits than the everlasting demand to feed the poor.

So although romantic movies might want us to believe that love conquers hate, hate – in the form of fear – might turn out to be the cheapest way to go.

But what do you think?

The Human Walking Face and The Absurd

The human “walking face” is a true joy to watch. That look as if everyone walking on the street is – at the same point in time – trying to come to grips with Einstein’s theory of relativity, but that, somehow, it won’t really click. All looking serious and angry, as if everyone is walking away from a fight with their spouse. As I said: a true joy to watch. And you know what I enjoy to do at those moments? At those numerous instances at which people look like they’re having an extremely hard time? At those moments I feel a strong urge to laugh.

At those moments I just like to express my happiness with the “walking faces” by bursting into a well-meant, wholehearted laughter. It doesn’t have to be very loud; just loud enough for yourself to realize that you’re laughing. And although this laughing might be feel “forced” or “fake” at the start; it while gradually flow into a sense of true laughter; a true sense of joy. And it is at that point in time that you’ve come to appreciate the beauty of the Absurd.

People are serious. And they should be, right? Live isn’t easy: you have to make money, you have to take care of your children and you have to act “responsibly”. If you don’t do any of these, there must definitely be something wrong with you. The road to survival is paved with puddles of duty and obligations; either socially conditioned or legally enforced. This is “the level of the crowd”. The level in which we live our “auto-pilot lives”; the level in which we move, speak and breathe. The level in which we’re prepared to do anything in order just to stay alive.

But there’s another level, a higher level, called “the level of reflection”. This is the level of relativity, of putting your issues into perspective: the level in which you think to yourself, “The people in Africa don’t even have food and I’m complaining about my goddamn wireless internet…what kind of sad person am I?” The level of reflection is a happy place to be at. It lessens your load, it makes you sorrows evaporate…partially. Because the level of reflection is – although higher than the level of the crowd – still part of the overarching “crowd-like mind”. The mind that is concerned with “living my life” and doing this through the inescapable and suffocating first-person perspective that I call “my personality”. Problems are still problems, only less significant than they were in the level of the crowd. You’re still hungry, but not as hungry as you were before.

But then – Bam! – Walhalla opens and “the level of the Absurd” shines its light on you. You become overwhelmed by feelings of randomness, ignorance and purposelessness. And you know what? You love it. It is in this level that all of your problems disappear, that the vortex to the world of indifference has opened. And when you finally decide to take the step into the Absurd, you feel that all the sense of “it’s all relative” – that you felt in the level of reflection – vanishes. You come to see that nothing is relative, since relativity implies value and value doesn’t exist. Nothing. Nowhere. “But”, a little voice from the level of the crowd might tell you, “people die in Africa every day. And your shitty wireless internet is still broken.” And your Absurd mind knows this, but it sees just right through all of these “issues” and into the truth: the truth that both issues are just as terrible as they are pleasant. People die every day and wireless internet breaks down every day. And you know why it happens? It happens because it happens.

Thank you for your visit in the level of the Absurd. I hope you enjoyed it.

What do you think?