Books: “On Tyranny – Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century”

“History does not repeat, but it does instruct,” says Yale historian Timothy Snyder in the prologue to his recent book, On Tyranny – Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. 

As the Founding Fathers debated our Constitution, they took instruction from the history they knew.  Concerned that the democratic republic they envisioned would collapse, they contemplated the descent of ancient democracies and republics into oligarchy and empire.  As they knew, Aristotle warned that inequality brought instability, while Plato believed that demagogues exploited free speech to install themselves as tyrants.  In founding a democratic republic upon law and establishing a system of checks and balances, the Founding Fathers sought to avoid the evil that they, like the ancient philosophers, called tyranny.  They had in mind the usurpation of power by a single individual or group, or the circumvention of law by rulers for their own benefit.  Much of the succeeding political debate in the United States has concerned the problem of tyranny within American society: over slaves and women, for example.

It is thus a primary American tradition to consider history when our political order seems imperiled.  If we worry today that the American experiment is threatened by tyranny, we can follow the example of the Founding Fathers and contemplate the history of other democracies  and republics.  The good news is that we can draw upon more recent and relevant examples than ancient Greece and Rome.  The bad news is that the history of modern democracy is also one of decline and fall.  Since the American colonies declared their independence from a British monarchy that the Founders deemed “tyrannical,” European history has seen three major democratic moments: after the First World War in 1918, after the Second World War in 1945, and after the end of communism in 1989.  Many of the democracies founded at these junctures failed, in circumstances that in some important respects resemble our own.

History can familiarize, and it can warn.  In the late nineteenth century, just as in the late twentieth century, the expansion of global trade generated expectations of progress. In the early twentieth century, as in the early twenty-first, these hopes were challenged by new visions of mass politics in which a leader or a party claimed to directly represent the will of the people.  European democracies collapsed into right-wing authoritarianism and fascism in the 1920s and ’30s.  The communist Soviet Union, established in 1922, extended its model into Europe in the 1940s.  The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands.  It would serve us well today to understand why.

Both fascism and communism were responses to globalization: to the real and perceived inequalities it created, and the apparent helplessness of the democracies in addressing them.  Fascists rejected reason in the name of will, denying objective truth in favor of a glorious myth articulated by leaders who claimed to give voice to the people.  They put a face on globalization, arguing that its complex challenges were the result of a conspiracy against the nation.  Fascists ruled for a decade or two, leaving behind an intact intellectual legacy that grows more relevant by the day.  Communists ruled for longer, for nearly seven decades in the Soviet Union, and more than four decades in much of eastern Europe.  They proposed rule by a disciplined party elite with a monopoly on reason that would guide society toward a certain future according to supposedly fixed laws of history.

We might be tempted to think that our democratic heritage automatically protects us from such threats.  This is a misguided reflex.  In fact, the precedent set by the Founders demands that we examine history to understand the deep sources of tyranny, and to consider the proper responses to it.  Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism in the twentieth century.  Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.  Now is a good time to do so.

Snyder’s twenty lessons – each well documented with facts and examples from recent history – are

  1. Do not obey in advance.
  2. Defend institutions.
  3. Beware the one-party state.
  4. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  5. Remember professional ethics.
  6. Be wary of paramilitaries.
  7. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  8. Stand out.
  9. Be kind to our language.
  10. Believe in truth.
  11. Investigate.
  12. Make eye contact and small talk.
  13. Practice corporeal politics.
  14. Establish a private life.
  15. Contribute to good causes.
  16. Learn from peers in other countries.
  17. Listen for dangerous words.
  18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  19. Be a patriot.
  20. Be as courageous as you can.

This book presents twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today” ( 9-13).

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Timothy Snyder, author & historian

https://www.amazon.com/TYRANNY-Timothy-Snyder-Lessons-Twentieth/dp/B071Z2L5TZ/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_img

On Tyranny, a concise, important, well-researched book, can help us learn from the horrors of the past.  Please read it.

Aloha, Renée

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Day: “Ever’thing . . .

“Ever’thing there is but lovin’ leaves a rust on yo’ soul,” Langston Hughes.

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James Mercer Langston Hughes,  (1902-1967) an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri, was one of the earliest innovators of  jazz poetry.

Aloha, Renée

P.S.  The banner photo is of a dragon fruit bloom – planted at our house by Johnny about three years ago.  Love surrounds us in the fruit and beauty of nature wherever we are.

Thoughts for the Day: “The happiest people . . .” & “Laughter”

Yesterday in my search through a cupboard for a tea bag, I came across two lovely sayings – taped to chai tea bags!  I’m sure the tea bags – and sayings – were from delightful Servas guests we had recently.  You are sure to like these messages too:

“The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything.  They just make the best of everything.”  🙂 

H---jump

and

 

“Laughter . . . is a tranquilizer with no side effects.”  🙂 

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In a laughing yoga class.

Words of wisdom from Servas guests Doris & Robin of Vancouver & Munich.

Mahalo, Renée

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Day: “As we think . . .”

 

These words from Buddha seem wise – and useful – for us to remember today.

 

“Thought manifests as the word;

The word manifests as the deed;

The deed develops into habit.

And habit hardens into character;

So watch the thought and its ways with care,

And let it spring from love

Born out of concern for all beings . . .

 

As the shadow follows the body,

As we think so we become.”

 

Buddha – From the Dhammapada

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Aloha, Renée

 

“Why Do Men [and Women] Stupefy Themselves?” Substance Abuse and Addiction

Life is sweet; life is hard. How we handle the hard times is essential to our growth.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, cultural critic, and poet, whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history, realized that difficulties of every sort were to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment.

“Like his pastor father, Nietzsche had been committed to the task of consolation.  Like his father, he had wished to offer us paths to fulfillment.  But, he said, ‘The worst sickness of men has originated in the way they have combated their sicknesses.  What seemed a cure has in the long run produced something worse than what it was supposed to overcome.  the means which worked immediately, anaesthetizing, and intoxicating, the so-called consolations,were ignorantly supposed to be actual cures. . . . these instantaneous alleviations often had to be paid for with a general and profound worsening of the complaint'” (de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy, p. 244).

Instead of facing their difficulties, many turn to drugs and alcohol to anaesthetize themselves.
According to a recent New York Times article:

AKRON, Ohio — Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.

The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.

Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be able to calculate final numbers until December. The Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners. Together they represent data from states and counties that accounted for 76 percent of overdose deaths in 2015. They are a first look at the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year, a detailed accounting of a modern plague.

The initial data points to large increases in drug overdose deaths in states along the East Coast, particularly Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, which filed a lawsuit last week accusing five drug companies of abetting the opioid epidemic, we estimate overdose deaths increased by more than 25 percent in 2016.

“Heroin is the devil’s drug, man. It is,” Cliff Parker said, sitting on a bench in Grace Park in Akron. Mr. Parker, 24, graduated from high school not too far from here, in nearby Copley, where he was a multisport athlete. In his senior year, he was a varsity wrestler and earned a scholarship to the University of Akron. Like his friends and teammates, he started using prescription painkillers at parties. It was fun, he said. By the time it stopped being fun, it was too late. Pills soon turned to heroin, and his life began slipping away from him.

Mr. Parker’s story is familiar in the Akron area. From a distance, it would be easy to paint Akron — “Rubber Capital of the World” — as a stereotypical example of Rust Belt decay. But that’s far from a complete picture. While manufacturing jobs have declined and the recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow, unemployment in Summit County, where Akron sits, is roughly in line with the United States as a whole. The Goodyear factories have been retooled into technology centers for research and polymer science. The city has begun to rebuild. But deaths from drug overdose here have skyrocketed. . .

From: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/05/upshot/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-are-rising-faster-than-ever.html?_r=0

 

There are many ways to anaesthetize yourself:  alcohol, smoking, over-eating. . . . Heck, you can be addicted to running or paddling (but then at least you will have a clear head).

Many years ago after being introduced in a terrific literature class to Leo Tolstoy’s novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, my friend Melinda introduced me to some of Tolstoy’s non-fiction.  One convincing piece was Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves? 
Recently, I came across Maria Popova’s blog on Tolstoy’s “Stupefy” essay.  Tolstoy’s ideas still ring true today. 

“The seeing, spiritual being, whose manifestation we commonly call conscience, always points with one end towards right and with the other towards wrong, and we do not notice it while we follow the course it shows.”

“The people of the United States spend exactly as much money on booze alone as on the space program,” Isaac Asimov quipped in a witty and wise 1969 response to a reader who had berated him on the expense of space exploration. At no other time of the year are our cultural priorities more glaring than during our holiday merriment, which entails very little cosmos and very many Cosmos. Long before Asimov, another sage of the human spirit set out to unravel the mystery of why such substances appeal to us so: In 1890, a decade after his timelessly enlightening spiritual memoir and midway through his Calendar of Wisdom magnum opus, Leo Tolstoy penned an insightful essay titled “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” as a preface to a book on “drunkenness” by a Russian physician named P. S. Alexeyev. Eventually included in the altogether excellent posthumous volume Recollections and Essays (public library; free ebook), Tolstoy’s inquiry peers into the deeper psychological layers and philosophical aspects of substance abuse and addiction.

 

Decades before the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous and nearly a century before alcohol abuse was recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization, Tolstoy writes:

What is the explanation of the fact that people use things that stupefy them: vodka, wine, beer, hashish, opium, tobacco, and other things less common: ether, morphia, fly-agaric [hallucinogenic mushrooms] etc.? Why did the practice begin? Why has it spread so rapidly, and why is it still spreading among all sorts of people, savage and civilized? How is it that where there is no vodka, wine or beer, we find opium, hashish, fly-agaric, and the like, and that tobacco is used everywhere?

Why do people wish to stupefy themselves?

Ask anyone why he began drinking wine and why he now drinks it. He will reply, “Oh, I like it, and everybody drinks,” and he may add, “it cheers me up.” Some those who have never once taken the trouble to consider whether they do well or ill to drink wine may add that wine is good for the health and adds to one’s strength; that is to say, will make a statement long since proved baseless.

Ask a smoker why he began to use tobacco and why he now smokes, and he also will reply: “To while away the time; everybody smokes.”

 

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/30/why-do-men-stupefy-themselves-leo-tolstoy/

 

 

Mrs. Weidman’s 2nd graders in Effingham, IL want to know about Hawaii

One of the highlights of our recent U.S. road trip was stopping at my cousin Elaine’s in Effingham, IL.  Her grandson, Keegan, a 2nd grader, is in an elementary school that has  for the past 28 years been doing a unit on Hawaii.

Keegan-

Keegan in Casey, IL – “A Small Town with a Big Heart”

Since Barry and I were going to be in town, we were invited to answer their questions about our island home.

hawaiian-islands-in-the-Pacific

1) Since it is so far away from the rest of the United States, why is Hawaii a state?

Hawaii is far away from Mainland U.S. A. – that is true.

  • From California to Hawaii is 2,471 miles.
  • From Japan to Hawaii is 4,980 miles away.

Before it was a U.S. possession, Hawaii was an independent country.   However on Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown by a group of U.S. businessmen and sugar planters (who wanted to make more money).  With the help of U.S. military, the business people forced Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to abdicate.  She give up her rights and kingdom although she was the rightful leader. She didn’t want her people killed.

Queen-Liliuokalani

Queen Liliuokalani

Two years later, Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory and eventual admitted in 1959 as the 50th state in the union.

2) What races live in Hawaii?

  • The state’s overall racial breakdown: white, 22.7%; black or African American, 1.5%; American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.2%; Asian, 37.7%; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 9.4%. The Hispanic or Latino population, of any race, was 8.9%.
Hawaiian-ohana

Ohana – family in Hawaii

3) Have you seen a volcano erupt?

  • Yes, on the Big Island of Hawaii many years ago, Barry and I saw a volcano erupting!
  • Lava and steam have been coming up in various places on the Big Island for many years. Johnny and Sigrid were just there in February and were right by extremely hot, slowly flowing lava.
  • On Maui, we have two volcanoes – one extinct (dead) and one dormant (sleeping), so we don’t have lava flows now.
  • The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes.
Types-of-lava-flows

Types of lava flows – from: <http://www.sandatlas.org/types-lava-flows/&gt;

Big Island Kilauea Volcano

Go to this link to see molten lava:

<https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/aug/28/lava-hawaiis-kilauea-volcano-video?subject=Big Island Volcano>

4) What are the black sand beaches like?

  • Black sand is hot – very hot when the noon sun shines upon it.
  • The dark color absorbs the sunlight, so if your feet are bare, you have to run really quickly to get into the water.
  • That sand is black because it is fine particles of volcanic rock.
  • Most sand in Hawaii is silicon dioxide (quartz) that is white or whitish yellow; it has been broken down from rocks and minerals by wind, rain and freezing/thawing cycles into smaller grains. In a few places, the sand is red.
  • Also, sea creatures such as the parrot fish chew up minerals and leave sand behind.
green-sea-turtle

Green sea turtle – you can find them in shallow waters

5) What is the weather like?

  • Nice   – highs are around 87 degrees in June, July, and August and lows of about 64 degrees are in January and February.
  • Because temperatures drop about 3.2F (1.3C) every 1,000 feet (305m), the summit of Haleakala is roughly 32F (13C) cooler than the beaches.
  • Rainfall is low in Kihei (10 inches a year), but on the east of Maui, is Hana, a rain forest (400 inches a year).
  • Hawaii is called a “tropical paradise” because its climate makes people feel comfortable almost every day of the year.

6) Are there a lot of shark sightings?

  • No. Sharks do live in the ocean, but they aren’t often seen here in Hawaii.  One thousand miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, in the Palmyra Atoll, however, there are about 20 sharks every half mile.  So it depends where you are what sea life you’ll find.
  • About three shark attacks occur per year in Hawaii. Few shark attacks are fatal.  Sharks do not have very good eyesight, so it is best to stay out of the ocean at dawn, dusk, or at times when the water is murky.  Sharks are looking for turtles to eat – not humans.
  • The Hawaii shark attack rate is surprisingly low considering the thousands of people who swim, surf, and dive in Hawaiian waters every day.
  • The most frequently encountered Hawaiian reef sharks are the White Tipped Reef Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Tiger Shark, Galapagos Shark, Gray Reef Shark, and the Sandbar Shark.

7) Do people really do the hula?

huladancers

lhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xr1Wd17w-g

  • Yes, the men and women – and children – dance hula. The Hawaiians have a powerful dance, music, and chant culture!

8) How is Christmas celebrated in Hawaii?

  • Over half the people in Hawaii practice Christianity.
  • Of those, 18.74% are Catholic; 5.24% are LDS; 3.91% are another Christian faith; 0.06% in Hawaii are Jewish; 5.14% are an eastern faith; 0.05% Islam.
  • Barry and I have a Christmas tree, church services, and celebrations with our families.   Because the weather is warm, we take food and spend our Christmas Day at the beach with our friends and family.
  • Because we live in Hawaii, we get to enjoy and experience other cultures and religions that our friends and neighbors practice.

On Maui – Santa arrives by canoe

Christmas-santa

9) Are there any interesting animals on Maui?

  • Yes. Many – many – especially sea creatures.
  • My favorite one? Humpback whales that come to Hawaii from about December through February.
humpback-whale

Humpback Whale – breaching.  Scientists still have much to learn about whales.

Humpback Whale Facts:

  • Whales are mammals: breathe air, warm blooded, live birth, have hair, & mom’s produce milk.
  • Fifty-eight million years ago, whales were land animals.  But there was global warming and less land and food, so the whales evolved back into sea creatures.
  • Their trip from Alaska to Hawaii (and then back to Alaska) takes whales 5 to 7 weeks at 3 to 8 miles per hour – each way!  It’s about 3,000 miles they swim to give birth and mate in our shallow, sandy bottom, warm water.
  • A whale calf is 15 foot at birth and drinks about 120 pounds of milk per day.
  • Because their throats are about the size of a grapefruit, the Humpback whales don’t eat for about four months here because our fish are too big.  The whales have to wait until they get back to Alaska where there is krill,  small shrimp and other small cold water fish for them to eat!
  • All whales vocalize, but the males “sing.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo2bVbDtiX8
  • Life span: 40-80 years
  • Length: 35-45 feet
  • Weight 35-45 tons ( 1 ton = 2,000 pounds)
  • Importance of whales to microscopic beings: Scientists report that when whales feed, often at great depths, and then return to the surface to breathe, they mix up the water column. That spreads nutrients and microorganisms through different marine zones, which can lead to feeding bonanzas for other creatures.
  • And the materials in whale urine and excrement, especially iron and nitrogen, serve as effective fertilizers for plankton.

Come visit us to see other animals, birds, and sea life.

10) Do you have turtles in Hawaii?

  • Two kinds you’ll find in Hawaii (among others) are the Green Sea turtle and the endangered Hawksbill.
  • At Ho’okipa Beach on Maui, you can sometimes see 25 or more turtles, big and small, basking – resting and warming up – on shore every afternoon.
  • Thirty years ago, basking seldom happened. But now, turtles are protected. It’s against the law to eat them.
big-turtle

Some turtles can weigh 300 pounds

 

hawksbill-2

Hawksbill

turtles-Ho'okipa

Basking turtles at Ho’okipa Beach Park

hawksbillexcavationwaiting

Waiting for the excavation of a Hawksbill turtle nest. Because the Hawksbills are very endangered, volunteers guard their nests from dogs, mongoose, other people . . . If the turtles don’t hatch in a timely way, scientists come to help them get out to the ocean.

hawksbill-babies

Hawksbill turtles emerging from their nest.  Each is about the size of a U.S. quarter.

We have other much more common animals:

lovebirds

Lovebirds come to our bird feeder every day.

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Mango is a myna bird that Johnny rescued when she fell from her nest.

11) What can you do for fun?

Windsurfing

Windsurf on Maui

H---jump

Watch what the locals do before you jump.

Ho'okipa

You can surf, kite sail, windsurf, swim, canoe, . . . in the Pacific Ocean.

waterfall

Hike to waterfalls

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Watch for rainbows.  See the faint second one here?

flowers-orange

Look for beautiful plants and flowers

Maui-Sunflowers

See sunflowers growing on Maui – an experiment to see what can replace the sugar cane that has been growing here for about 140 years.

coconut-tree-copy

Learn how to climb a coconut tree – and make coconut milk and coconut cookies.

And of course, you must come paddle Hawaiian outrigger canoe with me.  Kihei Canoe Club has visitor paddle every Tuesday and Thursday.  Be on the beach by 7:15 am.  You will learn the basics of paddling, hear a bit of Hawaiian culture (especially if Uncle Kimokea is there), and get to be on the ocean with experienced paddlers.  We never know what we will see.   http://www.kiheicanoeclub.com/

Kihei-Canoe-Club-copy

As for our time in Effingham, Barry and I had a very good time meeting Keegan’s classmates and teachers – and answering their excellent questions.

Mrs-W's-class

Keegan’s classmates in Effingham, IL

Mrs

Cousin Elaine brought juice and made “Hawaiian” cookies with macadamia nuts and coconuts.  We all had a good time.

Of course, there is much more to say about the Hawaiian Islands.  Come visit and see for yourself.

Aloha, Renée

NaluKai

Nalu and Kailani looking for adventure. You come too.

kbs-aloha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii for Keegan417

 

 

 

Let’s Get Cooking: Coconut Milk

Coconuts are an almost perfect food: highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by  those with lactose intolerance as well as vegans says, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-coconut-milk

Given proper care and growing conditions coconuts palms grow rapidly, can produce up to 100 coconuts a year, and live to be 100 years old!  So if you are lucky enough to have access to coconuts – and they are grown in more than 90 countries around the world, one delicious way to use them is to make your own coconut milk.

In the May/June 2017 issue of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi magazine, “Cuckoo for Coconuts,” Ryan Burden shares his knowledge and passion for coconuts, including this recipe for coconut milk:

Coconut-Information-Ryan-Burden-copy

Ryan Burden, a young man from Hā’iku, Maui, on a mission to get more people to eat coconuts, niu in Hawaiian.

How to make homemade Coconut Milk:

Ingredients

  • One older, shaker coconut [almost fully mature, these coconuts have thick meat and are rich in coconut oil].
  • 1 or 2 rubber or spoonmeat coconuts [younger coconuts with jelly consistency meat]
Coconut-information-Milk-1-copy

You will need coconut meat

STEP 1

Split the coconut in half by tapping firmly around the circumference. Tip: You can use any hard surface, like the back of a machete, a cleaver, even a stone.

Scrape out the meat using a coconut tool or butter knife; cut into 2-inch pieces.

coconut milkINGREDIENTS
STEP 2

Fill a high-powered blender halfway with coconut pieces and top with water. Water from a sweet coconut is best, but you can use plain H20. If you do, add a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt.

Tip: Make sure the water is at least 73 degrees; otherwise, the oils won’t emerge.

Blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Tip: Coconut meat is tough. Gradually increasing the speed avoids overheating the blender.

STEP 3

Strain through a nutmilk bag or fine cheesecloth. Squeeze out every bit, and put into a jar.

Fill to the very top, leaving no air in the jar to spoil the water. Chill immediately.

After the jar is opened, milk will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but is best enjoyed within two days.

For the complete article including how to open a coconut, go to <https://mauimagazine.net/coconuts/

Have fun making – and drinking your homemade coconut milk.

Aloha, Renée

“Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”

During a year of turmoil: Brexit,  U.S. elections, Flint, Michigan water, Columbia’s peace deal, Brazil and South Korea both impeaching their presidents, and more, the essay by philosopher and writer Alain de Botton  was the most widely read – by far – of any other New York Times article in 2016.  People seem most concerned about their own relationships.

In “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person,” de Botton declares, “We don’t know ourselves and we have unrealistic ideas of what love is.  For many, love means no conflict.  The modern idea of love is not based on reality. ”

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Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton explains, “Partly, it’s because we have a bewildering array of problems that emerge when we try to get close to others. We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well. . . . Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.”

He says we should be realistic: “We need to swap the Romantic view [of marriage] for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them.”

In his pessimistic/realistic view, de Botton says, “The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the ‘not overly wrong’ person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”. . .

At the end of his essay, de Botton notes, “Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not ‘normal.’  We should learn to accommodate ourselves to ‘wrongness,’ striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners.”

For the complete essay, go to –  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html

I learned of this Alain de Botton’s essay through On Being with Krista Tippett, a favorite podcast. When Krista interviewed de Botton in The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships, he expanded on his ideas in a less pessimistic tone than his article.  He emphasizes that love is work: “True love is rocky and bumpy,” but the more generous we can be, the more loving our relationships are likely to be.

“What if the first question we asked on a date was, ‘How are you crazy? I’m crazy like this.'”  Alain de Botton  says that we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. How might our relationships be different — and better — if we understood that the real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after.”

If you are counting on a “soul mate” to come along or grumble that your relationship isn’t like those in the movies, listen to Alain de Botton’s interview with Krista Tippett.

Go to – https://onbeing.org/programs/alain-de-botton-the-true-hard-work-of-love-and-relationships/

Although the world news swirls around you, what is really important says de Botton is to know yourself and be kind and realistic in building love in your relationships.

Aloha, Renée

Barry’s Gleanings: China -“A Job in Hand”

Based on the latest United Nations estimates, China has a total population of 1,387,380,040 (the U.S. 326,131,191) as of Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  Thus, China needs to deal with challenges such as employment for over a billion more people than we have in the U.S.

Chinese-college-students

Chinese college students

According to “A Job in Hand” in Beijing Review, Vol. 60, China continues measures to create employment throughout the country.

A Job in Hand
By Lan Xinzhen | NO. 17 APRIL 27, 2017

As China’s college graduates swarm to all kinds of employment fairs in this job-seeking season, the government is set to give them a leg up. A guideline on employment promotion recently released by the State Council, China’s cabinet, lays out measures for creating diversified job opportunities for college graduates. The document also details steps to be taken to boost job creation in all sectors of society.

Employment is vital to people’s livelihoods and forms the foundation for economic growth and social stability. Therefore, employment and unemployment rates are important indicators for gauging a country’s economy.

The unemployment rate in 31 major Chinese cities stands at the low level of around 5 percent, according to surveys of the National Bureau of Statistics. A review of statistics from 100 cities conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) shows the number of new jobs increased 7.8 percent and the number of applicants grew 2.1 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year. The figures show that China’s job market remained stable, as the increase of new positions surpassed the rise in applicants.

However, in spite of this stability, challenges are not to be underestimated. First, around 7.95 million college graduates will enter the job market this year, an increase of some 300,000 year on year. Ensuring employment for the record number of graduates is an issue the government faces [my emphasis].

Second, workers laid off from sectors with overcapacity—such as the iron, steel and coal industries—require resettlement. Last year, resettlement was carried out smoothly, with 726,000 workers from these industries being reemployed. The government faces daunting challenges this year, as more workers will have to find new jobs as a result of the furthering of supply-side reform, which focuses on cutting overcapacity, destocking, deleveraging, reducing corporate costs and improving weak links. Only when laid-off workers are properly resettled can this crucial reform be considered successful.

Another challenge is to guarantee employment for surplus labor from rural areas. In the past, surplus rural labor was primarily employed in export-oriented factories in the coastal areas of east and south China. However, many migrant workers lost their jobs as a large number of export-oriented enterprises closed down due to sluggish demand for exports in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.

The government has introduced a series of measures to meet these challenges and will continue to launch new initiatives to address the issues.

For instance, given that non-profit organizations are becoming increasingly attractive for college graduates, the government will grant them incentive policies equal to those enjoyed by enterprises, including tax reduction and exemption and social insurance subsidies. It also provides job-hunting allowances to college graduates from impoverished families. Where conditions permit, the government encourages the setting up of foundations, with the support of local government finance and private investors, to provide funding for college graduates seeking employment or starting their own businesses.

The government also subsidizes enterprises that resettle laid-off workers within their organization. It grants tax relief to enterprises that take on laid-off workers. Those who start their own businesses will be given priority to set up shop in business start-up incubators, where they will enjoy favorable tax and financing policies. Finally, as part of its public welfare program, the government will provide job opportunities to workers who have difficulty finding new work.

For surplus rural labor, the government encourages them to go back to their hometowns to make a new start. There have been many successful cases of migrant workers, having accumulated capital and acquired skills and knowledge in larger cities, returning to their hometowns to start their own businesses. In this year’s annual survey of 500 villages in China conducted by the MHRSS, the number of migrant workers working away from their hometowns was 279,000 at the end of the first quarter, down 2.1 percent year on year, while those employed in local non-agricultural sectors totaled 60,000, up 7.1 percent year on year.

These measures taken by the government conform to China’s national conditions and will have positive effects in promoting employment. With these measures in place, it is believed that China’s unemployment rate will continue to stay at a low level this year, in spite of mounting challenges.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

Comments to lanxinzhen@bjreview.com 

http://www.bjreview.com/Opinion/201704/t20170424_800094497.html

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College job fair in Nanjing, China

Population figures: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-population/

Aloha, Barry (& Renée)

 

 

 

Images: http://www.china-mike.com/facts-about-china/facts-chinese-education/

Thought for the Day: “The light”

“The light falls only on the stranger,” an ancient Arabic proverb declares.  This saying can mean that individuals are often not celebrated in their own countries – nor in their own families.  While familiarity may not mean contempt, it certainly lends itself to disregard.  However, one of the joys of traveling allows us to be the stranger – and to see others as strangers.

During these last two months, Barry and I drove from St. Louis, Missouri to as far south as Key West, Florida and as far north as Eau Claire, Wisconsin – visiting family, friends, meeting new people, and having new experiences.  We felt the special attention showered  upon wanderers.  And we were eager to see others.

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The proverb points to another way travelers benefit in their wandering.  “The light falls only on the stranger” can also mean that the one who sees most clearly – what is special – is often by those who are seeing something for the first time.

It’s a challenge for us all – those at home and those on the road – to see the light that  is in each person and the light that surrounds us everywhere.  What can you see when you look carefully?

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Aloha, Renée

Map from <http://www.freeworldmaps.net/download/maps/united-states/united-states-map.jpg

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