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Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “idiot”

Ψάχνοντας τα αυτονόητα / Seeking the obvious

(English text follows)

idiottestΨάχνοντας τα αυτονόητα

Τις προάλλες περνούσα από μια πολυσύχναστη λεωφόρο. Μια νεαρή κοπέλα στεκόταν στην άκρη του πεζοδρομίου με ύφος κολυμβητή των 100 μέτρων ελεύθερο που περίμενε το καμπανάκι για να βουτήξει. Καθώς πέρασα από δίπλα της την άκουσα να μονολογεί «Καλά τώρα πώς θα περάσω;». Η διασταύρωση πεζών (με φανάρι) ήταν μόλις 100 μέτρα πιο κάτω.

Μια άλλη φορά ήμουνα πρώτη στη σειρά για ταξί. Μόλις είχαν φύγει δύο και περίμενα να έρθει μπροστά ο επόμενος για να μπω. Ξεπροβάλουν από πίσω μου δυο νεαροί και ατάραχοι πλησιάζουν το ταξί, έτοιμοι να χιμήξουν σαν την λεοπάρδαλη σε νεαρή αντιλόπη. Εγώ δεν κουνήθηκα. Ξάφνου γυρνάει ο ένας και με ρωτάει σχεδόν έκπληκτος «Θα το πάρεις εσύ;». Τώρα τι του λες; «Όχι, απλά στεκόμουν εδώ για τον καθαρό αέρα»;

Τέτοια παραδείγματα έχω κι άλλα πολλά. Και είμαι σίγουρη πως ο καθένας έχει τις δικές του περιπέτειες να διηγηθεί. Αυτό που όλα αυτά όμως σε κάνουν να αναρωτιέσαι είναι «πόσο δύσκολο είναι να σκέφτεσαι πια λογικά;».

Λένε ότι τα ευκόλως εννοούμενα παραλείποντα. Αλλά όχι πια. Γιατί αλήθεια, τί είναι ευκόλως εννοούμενο τη σήμερον ημέρα; Το να περπατήσεις λίγα μέτρα παραπάνω και να διασχίσεις με ασφάλεια την λεωφόρο παρά να κάθεσαι μισή ώρα στην άκρη υπολογίζοντας την φόρα και την ταχύτητα που θα πρέπει να λάβεις για να περάσεις δια μέσω διερχομένων αυτοκινήτων; Ή μήπως το να περιμένεις υπομονετικά τη σειρά σου αφού σαν κι εσένα άλλοι τόσοι βιάζονται;

Αν έστω μερικοί ακολουθούσαν την κοινή λογική, η ζωή μας θα ήταν πιο εύκολη. Θα υπήρχε καλύτερη οργάνωση, λιγότερα νεύρα, και σίγουρα καλύτερη συννενόηση. Για φαντάσου να ακολουθούσαν όλοι τους “κανόνες κοινής λογικής”. Θα ζούσαμε σε παράδεισο. Αλλά πού τέτοια τύχη. Χρειαζόμαστε περιπέτειες εμείς. Που θα διηγούμαστε μετά και θα γελάμε. Το πόσο μετά δεν ξέρω…

Ίσως να περιμένουμε πολλά απ´ τους άλλους. Αλλά στην ουσία περιμένουμε μόνο τα αυτονόητα. Μόνο που πια δεν είναι και τόσο αυτονόητα…

 

commonsense12345Seeking the obvious

The other day I was marching hastily on the sidewalk of a busy avenue. Cars were rushing past and you could feel the wind being pushed forcefully at you by these speeding vehicles. And then I saw her. A young girl remained frozen on the side of the pavement staring into the jungle of racing cars, as if she was expecting a starting gun to sound so she could dive in. As I was passing by her, I heard her say to herself “Now, how am I supposed to cross over?” The pedestrian crossing was only 100 meters away.

Another time I was first in line for a taxi. Two yellow cabs had just left with their passengers and I was now waiting for the next one to pull up so I could get in. Two young men sprung suddenly from behind me and carefreely moved in front, like a leopard attacking its victim. One of them turned round and surprised asked “Are you taking this one?” What did they expect me to say? “No, I’m just standing here to enjoy the fresh air?

I have many such examples. And I am sure many of you do too. Each of us has these sort of “adventures” to tell. Things that make you wonder “really, how hard is it to think logically nowadays?”

It is usually said that what is obvious may be left out. But apparently not anymore. Because, what truly is obvious nowadays? Walking a few more meters to safely cross a busy avenue rather than lurking for half an hour or more on the side, calculating the speed and boost required to cross amidst speeding cars? Or waiting patiently for your turn, as you are not the only one in a hurry?

But it is said that when you’re stupid you don’t know you’re stupid. It’s only hard for everyone else.

If only some people followed principles of common logic, our lives would be much easier. There would be better organization, less irritation, and certainly better communication. Imagine if everyone was equipped with ‘common sense’. We would be living in a heaven. But no. We need these adventures. Things that we will be later describing to others and laugh at them. Only I don’t know how much later that would be.

Maybe we’re expecting too much of others. But in essence we are only expecting the obvious. But maybe it is not so obvious after all…

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Going in for the news, staying for the gossip

Big-NewsEvery good journalist knows that for a story to be newsworthy it should be interesting, unusual, with an element of novelty and proximity, and above all worth reading. New York Sun editor John B. Bogart best summed this up in one phrase: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

But every media professional knows that for a story to be newsworthy it simply needs to gain the attention of the audience, and…sell. That is why tabloids and gossip magazines tend to have a wider reach than the more “serious” press. Because people after all are more interested in gossip – in the lives of others – and “light” social news, than what goes on around them.

The “real” news is not whether Parliament passed a bill on a tax measure, or whether a civil war broke out in the Middle East; it is rather whether a known celebrity has given birth, or whether an actor got married. As such, the birth of the royal baby on 22 July gained an unprecedented extensive coverage globally, overshadowing the fact that a 6R earthquake in China killed 94 people, or that the conflict in Syria was fueled when rebels seized a northern town in the Aleppo province. Instead of that, millions of people gathered in endless crowds to stand for hours outside a hospital, when news of the birth would come from the palace, and viewers from around the world tuned in to watch the 24 hour coverage of what was dubbed as “news”, but in essence was nothing more than gossip – people of all sorts, simply stating their opinion on camera. The Private Eye was perhaps most satirical (and realistic) about this, stating what was obvious – that a woman had a baby.

But people are interested in news such as this for the mere reason that it involves people who are prominent, celebrities; people who are believed to live a life of luxury and glamour, carefree, and comfortable, getting to do exactly what they want without thinking twice about it. It’s as if these people are part of a different world unbeknown to the common masses that read these gossip columns.

People love to talk about each other. Isn’t that the reason why everyone logs onto social media sites? It’s not to read about the meeting of ministers that took place this afternoon. No. It’s to see who’s dating who, and to get up-to-date with all the latest “hot” pieces of “news”.  It’s what fascinates people. And it is certainly much more fast-paced and ‘enjoyable’ than the usual stalemate and repetition of politics.

It’s the sensationalized stories that sell, the ones that reach out to the humane and curious nature of mankind, the ones that offer a variation to the troubled lives of the masses, and the ones that say something different. Perhaps that is a message the people’s representatives should receive loud and clear (if they care about public life that is, and are not idiots) – that in essence they are not even newsworthy any more.

A politician can be an idiot

Since the time of Socrates politicians have not been thought of highly. They are considered dishonest, selfish, arrogant, and immoral. Socrates, himself had said that “I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live”. Charlie Chaplin saw himself as a clown, but even that, according to him, placed him
on a far higher plane than any politician”.

Politicians haven’t gained a bad name for no reason.  History has shown that true politicians were remarkably few.  And those who actually care about their people and work to improve their lives can be counted on one hand. “A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar” (H. L. Mencken) and with corruption scandals and embezzlement of public funds being revealed every day, politicians have become perhaps the most hated profession of the modern era. On a daily basis they are insulted by the people who consider them more and more a disgrace, as they no longer see in them their representatives. Politicians are now scorned, despised and slated by the very people who elected them to their posts, for they do not adhere to their mandate, or to any of the electoral promises they ever made, for that matter.

Someone once argued that no politician is an idiot. Because by definition a politician is someone interested in the polis – the city-state and not in his/her own interests, the idiot – the self. It is someone who is involved in influencing public policy and decision-making and puts the good of the people before his own benefits. However, modern definitions of a politician have converted into “a seeker or holder of public office, who is more concerned about winning favour or retaining power than about maintaining principles”. It turns out, after all, that politicians are indeed idiots.

In our contemporary times, politicians appear literally everywhere, at any conference, event, gala, opening, simply to gain exposure and better their image. They either think that this will help them appear as though they are interested in public affairs, or they simply want more than Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame. It actually appears to be both. Politicians, being the idiots they are, only care about heightening their own image and appearing as though they care, whilst at the same time serving their own selfish purpose.

Press conferences and debates are held sometimes even twice a day, while negotiations and discussions are on-going for days, even months with the sole reason of appearing as though action is being taken and something is actually being done by those in power, when in reality it is all about pleasing their own desire for exposure and publicity.

Statements are made continuously by politicians eager to talk, while hundreds of reports on various policies are published. They all do the same. They outline what needs to be done and when. But no-one ever realistically explains how they propose this to be done. And it turns out it is all about wishful thinking. In the EU, for example, months of discussions pass before the budget is approved and decisions are made as to how much money will be spent for various regions, projects and issues. They never, however, take into account the selfish and greedy nature of human beings. And years after the funds have been disbursed but the projects never happened the European Commission begins investigations on misuse of funds and embezzlement. As if it is surprising that idiots would do exactly what they are by definition known for – serving their own interests at the expense of the public good. And all this selfishness will in the end result in the demise of the polis and the common good. And as Paulo Coelho had described in a short story, the only way for the polis/town/state to survive was to let it drown in its own corruption and then build it anew.

Indeed, the problem with the world today is that so much talk is based on idealised situations. As if corruption and selfishness do not exist. Politicians are so versed in how to paint out exactly what they would like things to be. But they provide solutions to problems that are not realistic or at times even feasible. Instead, politicians are characterised by all talk and no action. They all know all too well how to draw attention to themselves, how to speak without actually saying anything, how to make empty promises, that people seem to forget that nothing substantial is ever occurring. And that is also one of the reasons why it is often argued that people who study politics are so repelled by what they learn that they never want to go into politics. Politics is indeed a dirty game. But what everyone seems to forget is that this very “game” concerns the lives of people who depend on those ruling to secure a better living for them – for the people, not the rulers.

Bertrand Russell had said that “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”. Thing is, it is the cocksure idiots that rise up in the world and end up presiding over the unsure.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Viral – The New York Times is going to feature your blog on its home page, and you’ve been asked to publish a new post — it’ll be the first thing tens of thousands of new readers see. Write it.

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