MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “society”

The scourge of power

He was unfairly imprisoned for a crime he never committed. But in a corrupt society, justice has a price and the laws are what those in power interpret them to be. There could be no righteousness in a world filled with greed.

It is a disturbing truth, however, that those in power will always try to exploit and control those who truly possess it.

He was imprisoned because he held power through a source they could not master. His force stemmed from the intellect. He pushed people to think and question the circumstances that surrounded them. He prompted them to be critical and demand more knowledge. He opened their eyes and minds. And for that he was considered dangerous.

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it” (Aung San Suu Kyi).

Right is right regardless

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We, people, are too concerned about appearances. About what other people think. About how we may seem to others; the image we portray.

We are often more concerned about the impression we give, than about acting right and with integrity. We lose ourselves to please others, but, worse, to fit into social confinements.

There are certain ways of acting that we can realise on our own if they are right or not. No matter the norms of social behaviour, we can discern if it is acceptable to shout in public, to speak badly to service workers, to be rude to anyone. They are part of those things that frankly should be common sense.

But what most people fail to comprehend is that just because everyone does something doesn’t make it right or even acceptable.

Similarly, just because certain people act in a similar manner around everyone – e.g. flirting or being overly effusive – doesn’t make that behaviour acceptable or appropriate either.

There are some things we need to respect when it comes to friendships and social conduct.  We need to take into account the people we have before us and adjust our manners accordingly.

But essentially, it is one single thing: don’t do unto others what you don’t want done to you. If you want to be respected, treat the people next to you with respect. It will elevate you much more than anything else you could say or do.

Remember, “right is right even if no one is doing it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it” (St Augustine).

In the time of Coronavirus everything is changing. Are we?

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It is obvious that our lives are changing and with it our daily routines. Whatever we so far considered “normal” may not be as such when we eventually exit this unprecedented crisis. Even the concept of what is “normal” has now obtained a controversial meaning, along with whatever we previously considered as given or obvious facts, such as the need for cleanliness which, although formerly seen as an obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), now has become an imperative necessity.

The fear of contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) during its violent and uncontrollable spread is now accompanied by the anguish of when cities and markets will regain their pulse after weeks or even months. What scares us the most is the unpredictability of all this.

We are treading on unchartered waters, moments that will remain engraved not only in our minds, but in global history. And we are unprepared for it. Because instead of investing in research and health programmes – in the essential – we grant importance to the ephemeral, things and people who in times of crisis will have no value or use.

There are many theories circulating regarding the Coronavirus. How it is a conspiracy of the strong and powerful to further manipulate and subdue the weak masses; on the conflict between East and West; on economic interests etc.

Whatever the case, the current pandemic constitutes both a challenge and an opportunity.

It is a challenge for healthcare systems that have broken down due to lack of infrastructure, and resources both human and material; for state aid to be offered to those most affected; for social solidarity that is necessary now more than ever; for individual responsibility that many continue not to comprehend; for our mental health primarily, and for every kind of relationship we have.

This absence of regularity, the abrupt disruption of our daily lives, our routines, has shaken us to the core. This is aggravated by the fear of the economic impact or an imminent financial crisis, together with the lack of connection with other people. Suddenly, we find ourselves with an abundance of time, but no people to spend it with. All this heightens the feeling that we have lost our sense of safety. And this in turn makes us miserable; it brings upon us an undefined grief.

It is only if we manage to find the positive in a negative situation, that we will be able to fight it; to save ourselves both physically and mentally. For every illness, the remedy is always a strong immune system – resilient antibodies – to be able to cure ourselves. The same goes for the thoughts that we allow to occupy our minds. A head full of fear has no room for dreams. So let’s be optimistic, because as Winston Churchill said, “it does not seem too much use being anything else”.

The truth is, we should be grateful about how privileged we are that amidst a global pandemic we have been ordered to stay at home – in our refuge – in the safety of our own space, reading, watching TV, working, creating, with a full fridge and few worries, waiting for this all to end. Most of us are called to fight this invisible enemy from our couch.

Yet, we complain for the opportunity to get away from the routine we constantly criticised for draining our energy and leaving us little time to do the things we really want. Here is our chance to remember our hobbies, to watch TV, to learn something new, to read books, spend time with our loved ones, to (finally) get acquainted with technology, to invest time in ourselves and our priorities and evolve stronger, improved.

But we still complain. When other worse hit countries are forced to choose who to save because their healthcare systems are overwhelmed. We complain because we are staying home, when there are people who don’t even have that. We spend a lifetime staring at a screen, yet now we suddenly all want to go outside. The forbidden is always sweeter, they say. Even now, under these dire circumstances.

In the time of Coronavirus, everything is changing.

And when all this shall pass – because it will – what will we be left with? Apart from an earth that has pushed a small ‘pause’ and managed to heal itself, and leaving aside reports about a new hantavirus, what will we have learned out of all this? Will we wash our hands and our communal spaces better? Will we maintain social distancing? Will we consider that our individual actions have an impact on others? Will we appreciate more the time we have, the people around us and everything we consider as granted? Will we view life with a different lens?

The Coronavirus pandemic has proven how unprepared we are, because we consider so many things – even health – as granted. It is a shock on the global health system, on governance, security, but mainly on our values. It showed that everything around us is so temporary. Things we revolved our lives around: our work, gym, cafes, malls, cinemas, society itself, have all become irrelevant as we are now learning for weeks to live without them. It has taught us that we are so technologically advanced we can actually work from home, i.e. anywhere, and we can remain more connected than we believe. But in the end, it is up to us to demonstrate that the lives lost daily are not in vain. It is our responsibility to change ourselves to change the world.

It’s as simple as this

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Humans have an impertinent nature. It is a given fact. We don’t like to be told what to do and most often than not we will do the exact opposite of what you tell us. Because we can. And we feel superior by doing so. As if disrespecting you or regulations will give us impotency and show that we do not ‘bow down’ to others. That’s the mentality.

Similarly, during the time of Coronavirus, when the entire world has shut down and streets everywhere are empty, we have been ordered to #StayHome to #StaySafe. Yet, there are those – a surprisingly large number of them – who don’t comply because they don’t want to; because they are bored at home; because “they’re fine”.

People who work from home long before it became a trending necessity, know very well what it feels like to spend your entire day in the same space. But there is always something to do. If you don’t work, you can find things to keep you occupied and creative. It’s your time to relax, learn, read, watch movies, fix your home and garden, invest time in yourself. For the sake of it, all we’ve been asked to do is sit on our couch to #SaveLives. Why is this so difficult to understand?

There are so many people out there still working. They go to their jobs daily, with the constant risk of contracting the virus, simply to keep the world still moving. Many of them would very much like to simply stay home. Like we’re supposed to be doing.

Restrict your movements. You don’t need to be outside “exercising” every day, when you’ve never done that so far. The sooner we all comply, the sooner we will all be able to continue our lives. It’s as simple as that.

Social relationships under self-isolation

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It’s interesting to witness how a state-imposed self-isolation affects our social relationships. Funny memes are going viral in that, during just the first few days of quarantine due to coronavirus (COVID-19), people are rediscovering their homes and the people in them.

If we choose to remain optimistic and see the positive in every situation – even this one – we may realise that this is an opportunity to take a pause and allow the world itself to breathe. By staying home, the decrease of environmental and atmospheric pollution is already evident. But there is more to that: we can take a break from the routine we keep complaining about and rediscover ourselves and the people around us. We live in a world where we can communicate with everyone / anyone anywhere at the click of a button, we can work from home, view films and series, tour museums online, read books, go online for shopping. There are so many things available at our fingertips.

It is during this time that we acknowledge how important it is to have people around us who we can communicate with even if only via a digital chat. People who can keep us strong and positive, and with whom we can exchange useless information simply to keep each other distracted and busy enough to forget to despair that we are “stranded” at home.

Some of us are actually “stranded” in another country away from our families. And due to the closing of borders as tight precautionary measures we will have to wait for a few months it seems to be able to hold them again. Because via videochat we can see each other every day and check-up on each other.

This is the time to realise that we can never tell what the future holds. Even if we plan things, they may not turn out the way we hope.

Most of all, we are given a chance to acknowledge all the things we take for granted and don’t appreciate. First of all our health and the time we have with our loved ones.

Let’s seize this opportunity to stay home, stay strong, stay safe, and keep our families and friends safe too.

Nothing lasts forever. Not even this.

Social markets

©Roger Bultot

It is said you can learn a lot from a country and a society if you stroll through its markets. And that’s what she always did when she visited a new place.

But this time it was different.

She wasn’t visiting.

She was there forcefully, without even having the option to choose. There was no alternative. That’s what she was told.

The market was not a hospitable place, nor one you enjoyed walking through.

Merchants were trying to rip-off their potential clients, and small children were deftly trying to steal whatever they could without being caught.

‘Ideal’, she exhaled, despaired.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

The Scrooges of this world

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His favourite character was Scrooge. Either McDuck or Ebenezer, it didn’t really matter. It was the trait he admired. That of being stingy, a cold-hearted miser and filthy rich because of it.

He wanted to have it all. But all was never enough. There was always more.

He lost friends as quickly as he acquired them, because his arrogant style that undermined everyone else around him immediately became evident.

Yet, he didn’t care. People like that seldom do. Arrogance, it is said, is a camouflage for insecurity. People adopt a conceited attitude and raise their voice to be heard, no matter if they’re wrong. They try to dominate every situation to show they’re in control. But what they try to hide is their fears that they cannot conquer.

People cheat and steal from each other, attempting to demonstrate they’re cleverer and more astute. Paraphrasing what the ghost said in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, they wear the chains they forge in life. Yet, in the end, all they achieve is to create a society in which the truly smart people want to escape from, because they are the ones that see through the corruption and lies. They are the ones that read beyond the deceits and the feinted arrogance. They are the ones who distinguish between arrogance and confidence and the ones who understand when it is right to stand up for what you believe and when it is just necessary to go with the flow.  As long as the flowing river is one that leads to an ocean – a greater good – and not one that drowns everything along the way.

“The world is your oyster. It is up to you to find the pearls” – Chris Gardner

A social condition

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They called it a condition. He called it honesty. But sometimes it made him seem rude. He couldn’t tell the difference.

He was used to speaking his mind without camouflage or fake kindness. If he didn’t like something he would say it, if he disagreed with someone he would point it out. Simply said, he couldn’t feign politeness in a world filled with people wearing masks.

He wasn’t the one to hide; from anyone or anything. But that often got him into trouble. Because not everyone appreciated the sincerity in which his words were uttered.

His belief was that if people couldn’t handle the truth, they shouldn’t be doing or saying things that were contrary to it.

In fact, he was convinced, that if people followed the norms of proper social conduct, so many fake masks would not be necessary.

But that was simply his thoughts. He lacked tact but that did not make him any less of a person than anyone pretending to be his friend.

The sound of gloom

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There was a poor person in the metro the other day playing a famous song on his guitar. He was dressed decently. Wasn’t begging really. His voice was imbued with feeling. He sounded almost professional. He sang from the heart and that was evident. It made you want to give him something. Some change to show your appreciation for the way he was striving to make a living.

Perhaps he could have searched for a ‘regular’ job. But everyone knows these are hard to find in a country where ‘crisis’ has become an everyday term.

At least he was giving melody to a train ride. And you could see the passengers actually stop looking at their phones for a minute and letting their mind wander at his tune.

You were almost mesmerised to give him spare change. Coins whose possession to you may not have made a difference. Perhaps it was the cost of your daily cup of coffee. But to him it was a measure of appreciation. Of the fact that there were people out there who liked what he offered and who were willing to grant a helping hand.

There are many people who leave aside their dignity and in their despair decided to ask strangers for help. There are the ones who feel outcast from society. Whom we look at demeaningly and most often choose simply to ignore. There are the ones who cause controversial discussions of whether they are worth our pity or our ignorance, of whether they are choosing the easy road of begging instead of searching for a ‘real job’.

Everyone we meet carries their own story, their own burdens, their own heavy loads. But it is people like these that make you realise all that you have and how little you appreciate how lucky you in fact are. Because what you perceive as obvious and ‘normal’ is not so for many others.

The making of a genius

He was born out of wedlock so had no right to education. He was considered an outcast and society looked down on him. Yet he managed to ignore them all – all those eyes who stared with loathing when he walked by, as if he had stolen something from them, as if they had become lesser people because of his existence.

He was curious of the world. Of how everything was structured to make things work so seamlessly. He was astonished by the way birds used their wings to fly or how water was present almost everywhere. He had a mind that was constantly alert. His thoughts would keep him awake at night and without food, for he was too busy thinking about how he could make improvements in an already magnificently built world. He wanted humans to go further. But they had to want that too.

He was a scientist, an inventor, a sculptor, an artist, a musician, a thinker. He was a genius. One who comprehended the need to go out and do things to achieve something. One the world acknowledged too late in time.

He was the one who proved the world was a better place because of him. But people couldn’t see it.

His name was Leonardo.

“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see”

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets”

– Leonardo Da Vinci

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