Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Stocism: The Art Of Living In Adversity

There seems to be a perennial interest in the philosophy of stocism, that revered stone-faced approach to living.

Stoic: person who can endure pain and hardship without showing their feelings. (Oxford Dictionary.)

The primary goal of stocism is how to be happy or rather how to live a happy life. So, we are not talking about just moments but the whole stretch of one's life, although everything would be based on the moment, and hence, a series of moments.

To live a happy live is to live a life that one wishes - not in the sense of frivolity - but in the sense of living in accordance with one's inner being. Be a good durian if you know you are a durian, and not trying to be a rambutan.

In other words, stocism is about being one's true self. It is by being true to oneself that one can truly be happy with oneself.

This is because this is the reality.

The reality is out there, and not inside you, and therefore it is not part of you. Whatever the reality is, it has nothing to do with you. This is the reality.

The only way reality has an impact on you is when you react to it, the reality. By reacting, you allow reality to hit you.

Which means that in order to ensure that the reality has no impact on you is for you not to react to it. By not reacting to reality, you do not allow reality to hit you.

Here you are, alone in this world. There it is the reality, existing by itself, existing before you were born and will exist after you are gone from here.

Pain is external to you. There may be pain in a part of your body, but yo do not have to own that pain. You can make pain an alien to your being. You do not have to react to the pain.

Now, what do you do in this apparent stalemate?

The only thing to do in this real life is to live according to your own true self.

Know yourself.

Live your life, your own way.

Do what you have to do; do not do what you don't need to do.

Do as per your true self. Live your life with integrity to your true self.

To live life with integrity to your true self, you have to keep life simple. You can only know a few key elements of your own true self, and you have to keep your faith with those few points of yours.

Be honest - don't lie, don't cheat, don't misrepresent, don't mislead, don't say what you do not know.

Have courage - endure though not suffer, don't be afraid.

Be rational - use your head, re-examine carefully all those impressions of things in your mind and make sure that they are true, calm your senses down by keeping still in order to know yourself, behave on the basis of what you know.

Stocism is therefore about living a virtuous life according to yourself, your own nature, being true to yourself, without depriving others from doing the same.

Living In The Present

When the real world today seems all in shambles, the world is in shambles, but not you.

You are intact. You know who you are. You are being honest to yourself.

If you are in debt, then pay off the debt by selling the assets you have accumulated. If that is not sufficient, get yourself declared bankrupt. Do what you have to do. Don't try to avoid the consequences of your own past actions. Don't blame others for your present troubles. You did not credit others when you were doing well before; you owed everything to yourself. Your financial world may collapse, but you are still alive. Only you will decide for yourself that you should be unhappy. You do not have to get others' approval to be happy.

The same applies to your fame, your reputation - bestowed upon you by others for no reasons of yours that you can fathom and for no good purpose that you can use it for. You are like everyone else: human, alive, aging, waiting.

In such adversity, it is a real joy to be alive, because that is the only thing that now defines you - and possibly the only most important thing.

Every step you take is entirely yours and yours alone. You decide. You do. You live.

Be happy. Be alive.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Killing

A man shot dead the Russian Ambassador to Turkey today in Ankara.

There have been many killings around the world everyday, in big cities and small towns, among friends and among families, between people who do not see eye to eye with each other and do not want to, between people who have a misunderstanding because they have different upbringing and experiences.

But this particular killing is the result of anger over political actions in Syria by local and foreign forces which has resulted in the ruins of towns and homes, and the death of many people with those alive fleeing for their lives.

Will this one killing of an official avenge for all those killings of many ordinary people, and the matter ends? Will it stop further killings? Or will a proud nation demonstrate to the world its superiority and take matters to a level that prompts other equally proud nations to a show of force?

We can only tremble at the prospects.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lying

Is lying the result of dishonesty or incompetence?

Most of us assume that someone told lies because they are saying something that is different from the truth.

But what is truth?

Surely when we know what has transpired, we know what the truth is. "I stole the money and I try to hide the tracks to the money I have stolen."

But things can get a bit more complex. "I want the money but I do not want to know how that money comes about and how does it come to my access. All I want to know is how much is that money and how can I have access to it." One can pretend not to know the whole process. One can pretend to be stupid. One can pretend that one prayed and the money appeared.

Of course, all this pretending and not wanting to know exactly how the whole thing is done has been captured in that image of the ostrich sticking its head in the sand. But then someone has to tell the ostrich that its arse is sticking out.

One has to be really clever to be dishonest, as we also have an excellent example in our midst. That cleverness stems from playing the legal game. "Well, where is the evidence?" The trick in hiding evidence is to lay the whole theft in very public display, such as in the form of a public policy. "My purpose in this policy is to take money away from the rich and give it to my friends who are looking after me." This can be couched in very general terms. There is nothing to give the stolen wealth to friends because they are not given to the thief directly and the friends fall within the categories as defined by policy. Very clever.

The only person who can blunder in lying as in stealing is to be less than vigilant, by being incompetent. It is tough enough to cover all the tracks and pretend not to know; worse, is not wanting to know completely and then doesn't know anything at all. You have not way to control the whole situation. Your backside is wide open.

***

It is foolhardy to expect politicians to be honest.Politicians lie from the moment they decided to be politicians.

They tell themselves and their supporters: I want to be a politician to help the people.

There is nothing wrong with that as an intention. But what is very wrong with it as a statement of truth is that they do not have a clue as to how to help the people. They may know how to help themselves and how to help their friends, but they do not know how to help all the people in society.

They may know how to argue, how to disagree, how to protest, how to create a challenge. But can do many things that are negative. But they do not know how to do anything positive, by building on what is already good and creating a greater society.

That's why never, never, never ever believe in any one politician. Politics is never about the politicians. Politics is a process and it is always about the political process.

In democracy, the political process is always about changing the politicians and the democracy is in the choice by vote of the politicians. Democracy is not about one political master choosing the next political leader for us; that's political dynasty.

***

So now we have each group championing one cause and then appearing all over the place.

We have one championing "clean election" which becomes embroiled in calling for the resignation of the prime minister. I thought they are fighting for clean elections which are a very specific and very difficult thing to do. Do we clean up elections through crowding out in the streets, no matter how peacefully? Isn't there a "cleaner" way of doing the job more effectively?

***

I am wary of people playing with emotions through social media. Things can end really end up very messy.

***

I am calling for competence.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hypocrisy

Alas, we cannot ignore the rampant spread of hypocrisy in our society where there are double and triple standards and everybody is lying through their teeth just so that they can outshout each other and shutting everybody up; they having the final say and the monopoly of the public voice.

The corruption of the nation starts with the corruption of the integrity of our national institutions by the elimination of their independent powers and condensing all powers of the nation in the hands of one man, both political and economic. This was done long ago but in our lifetime. What we see now is the secondary effects of that degeneration, where corruption is taken to be normal and only something much worse than corruption may be abhorred, maybe the loss of life?

Our nation has turned into a circus where everything is played for the media to display. There are no more men and women who are satisfied in speaking quietly ready to compromise. There is one-upmanship everywhere. The s--t has risen to the top and they all seem to be very proud of themselves.

What is now there for the nation?

Are we going to spend our time glued to the media for the information and no truth? Or do we turn inward to ourselves, contemplate and ignore reality?

It is clear that there is a political battle going on on a full scale in clear sight of everyone. The one who is very old feels that he has one last bit to do before he dies, so that he can have the last say and leave us with his s--t. There is one who is embattled by a series of bad judgements and bad advisers and who have really made a very bad situation much worse. We have olf soldiers of the last regime who feel that they must defend their old legacy and pile all the blames on the current one. There are the old opponents (not enemies) who have been play the devil's advocate for so long as the counter-party to the old regime and one should really not be surprised when the two sides synthesies to make the old as one (they are the same). There are the minorities who have been so marginalised from the mainstream that they have an existence of their own, and the use of the GST to weed them out is the last straw for the economy which will now see the bottom falling off. The new monopolies that have been created to become the pillars for the new economic policies have become so inefficient that they only way for them to pay divendends to the government is to raise the fees the general public must pay for the services they have monopolised. And these fat GLCs think they are clever.

Money corruption, although not honourable, is a product of an inefficient and cumbersome government machinery. But money corruption on a grand scale across the board is bad in many ways, first, in ruining hard work and productivity gains, and second, in ruining the currency as these corrupt money must somehow be stashed away overseas to avoid being caught and to protect themselves against a currency which by their very act have helped to weaken so systemically.

I do not admire the old guard who came out to warn about the weakness of the ringgit. Well, he should know what he was talking about because he had done it before. And the central bank is still dishing out the same old intervention measures. What's new?!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Neo-Liberalism & Post-Truth

It is now getting a bit confusion over the proper meaning of liberalism. In ordinary English, liberalism simply means being easy and without any hang-ups and that you allow others to do what they wish, while you carry on happily along with your own insignificant little life. Liberalism means absolute tolerance of yourself and of others, the fundamental tenet being probably that life is too short for each of us to hamper each other.

Now, if you were to mix the notion of liberalism with that amorphous idea of democracy, you would probably get the idea that you could do whatever you like to disrupt the current system of things because you feel that there is an injustice and a wrong somewhere and that you are the person to contribute to that correction, simply because you have the liberty and the instrument to do it.

So the liberal democrats in their yellow T-shirts congregated in the city centre to demonstrate their disgust with the current regime because the current regime has done something that is wrong morally and they wish the government of the day will simply just step down. The pro-regime red T-shirts exercising what they saw to be their equally justifiable right to counter-demonstrate in support of the government of the day.

We have also elsewhere losers in a presidential election stepping up into the streets and the limelight to shout into the faces of the winners that they did not agree with their values and what they had said during the very hot campaign and what the winners to step down so that the losers can take over because of their more liberal stance, all in the name of democracy.

What puzzles me is that what is the point of having a debate if we are all supposed to subscribe to the same views in the first place. I thought the diversity of ideas as a result of the challenging of the norm and the opportunity to speak the seemingly ridiculous has been the way forward of our current civilisation, a process which has carried us out of the dark ages and into the light of logic, deduction, experiments and all that comes under the term of creativity and innovation. Of course, we also learn from history that some of the greatest disruptors of obsolete conventions had to die for their realisations. So, the truth can be ugly and at times bloody.

However, maybe it is precisely because of the shortness of our time in this life and our ignorance of reality that we guard so vehemently our own little world with our own little truths or falsehoods whichever that give us our mental and material comfort that we are so ready to kill those who dare to destroy our sense of being.

In trying to protect our own vulnerable sense of our own little truths, we are therefore inclined to be swayed and we also work so hard to try to sway those of like-minds with emotive words that touch our hearts but which contain no substantive truth that emotional rant seems to be the instrument of the present and the future to create a world that only we and our like-minds are happy to inhabit. We are now in the world of post-truth, the new word in the Oxford Dictionary for now.

It is no more sufficient for anyone of us to speak our truth softly and gently. We are now required to shout and be heard above the crowds, the lonely crowds who live their atomic lives through the electronic handphones while ignoring those standing next to them. Post-Reality?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

EU Ideology

The European Union is an idea based on an ideology, not on some fundamental inalienable truth of nature that cannot be broken. As an ideology, it is a belief not a fact.

The EU argument is that you cannot have free movement of goods without free movement of people. Economic theory has nothing to prove this imperative. The idea of the free movement of goods among countries is that you do not have to have free movement of people in order to have full employment among trading nations. You can have investments in your own countries and then trade.

The free movement of people is another thing altogether. People had always been free to move around the world since time immemorial until the idea of nations cropped up which was as recent as the breakup of the British Empire in the last fifty years or so. What makes the current free movement of people so unmanageable is the age of information and mass travel so that instead of a trickling effect we get an avalanche which puts pressures on local councils to provide the necessary services.

(Malaysia has chosen to ignore the problems of immigration because they consider them to be foreign workers here for a temporary period only, when in fact they are all here for one whole generation with families and children.)

The mounting social pressures put an enormous strain on the government of the day especially when the economy is weak and unemployment is rising among the locals.

The free movement of people is a political ideal aimed at the creation of a unified broader federation of nations, as a political bloc so to speak. It has less force from an economic point of view. The central issue may simply be record-keeping of the movement of people. The solution may simply be administrative.

There is currently great vehemence against Brexit in the EU because there is real danger that the EU experiment may fail. Nations with successful cities are under tremendous social pressures. With the rise of unemployment, nations with good welfare systems may have to discriminate against newcomers so that the systems do not break down. There will be budgetary pressures and this is when the free movement of people becomes a real economic issue.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Triumphs!

It would be wrong to say that not many imagined Trump would win the presidential elections. The results say that many did indeed thought so and voted for him!

It is only those who did not like him who could not imagine how he could be president. It is such self-delusion about one's own truth.

Then, of course, there were those who did think very early in the campaign that he could win - because he was saying all the right things, in their ears, about what is really wrong with their nation.

Of course, Trump can be faulted for being politically incorrect - but then, political correctness does seem to have a certain fashion trend about what is being correct. After all, correctness is a subjective value - and most often in the public space and mostly unlikely in one's own intimate privacy.

Trump's victory is at the same level of the new reality as Brexit. Both completely shakes the mindset of the mass media where everything is presumed to be business as usual.

But we are living in an unusual time, in a time of great turmoil and great strife by masses of people for mere survival, wars that are destroying entire cities and towns, and ordinary people are being crushed to their deaths or drowned as they try to run for the higher ground.

We are living in the aftermath of, as well as the continued money printing of quantitative easing, when trillions are sloshing around the global capital cities looking for real estate or that glittering metal called gold. Banks are waiting for implosion as they sit on over-inflated collaterals. In the meantime, subsidies are removed, austerity drive made, governments snatching purchasing power from the ordinary people, good jobs hard to find, wages unchanged at low rates, badly paid foreign workers being exploited by owners of capital in menial jobs in construction and restaurants.

So, the people look for a leader to change the status quo which benefits only the elite and they are elite because they have managed to borrow huge sums from banks at low costs to buy real estates which have been inflating out of all proportions in relation to the value they can benefit human welfare.

Trump promises the people that he will look after them, give them decent jobs, make their lives more meaningful again, help them cope with their daily lives, feed their families, and solves their own mundane little problems at home in their own background instead of trying to be a hero to the big big world.

The US domination of global politics came out of WWI and WWII with the rise of the defence industry made possible by the seigniorage that can be enjoyed out of the US dollar becoming the reserve currency and the unplugging of the US dollar from gold in 1973. The US has become fat by the printing of money which has also in the last thirty years brought up the rise of China and India.

Brexit is a real cry for change by the UK and for loosening of the tie with continental Europe. The EU was a product of WWII and libertarian politics which imagined itself as another US. But the EU is a group of old nations which the old educated elites of former colonies are conditioned to love with nostalgia. But ancient civilisations are waking up after long periods of hibernation to become the ultra-new nations. It is this new reality that the UK and the US are waking up as well.

In part, Trump is a necessary evil. He may not be the best president of the US, but he is also a game-changer which means that you should not expect things to be the same as before.

While the media is screaming uncertainty, what they should be looking forward to is new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. The world is throwing away old ideas and embracing earth-shaking new ways forward.