Living life according to nature. The Stoic principles.

Photo by Diego Madrigal on Pexels.com

Stoicism is a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness, or blessedness) is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.

Nature (understood also as the universe) is rational and deterministic whose actions aim for survival. The universe is governed by the law of reason. There is no hazardous phenomenon in the natural world nor intention. Everything natural happens for a reason.

Humans are part of the big nature; thus the importance to live according to its plan. Otherwise, human actions can provoke a disequilibrium as it is the case today with climate change, endangered species, floods and storms which are all lethal to humanity. If money is the goal, then nature is overexploited. Since nature is rational and tends to harmony, not to forget that it is much stronger than people.

One day, human actions can wipe out all existence. According to Stoic, this is the peek of human foolishness.

Marcus Aurelius on death

In his Meditations, Book IV, paragraph 5, The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius defined death as a thing of nature’s determinism. Therefore, one should live according to nature and accept death, the only inevitable truth.

Here is the paragraph in Marcus Aurelius’ words:

Is there anything essentially natural?

There is nothing called natural in itself. Any given repetitive behaviour is perceived as natural by its subject and by others. Therefore, is natural the synonym of repetition?

Rituals and habits are referred to as a second nature. Then, what is the first nature? Speaking of human nature, perhaps the first nature (the core human nature) is the ability to learn, to adapt, to repeat and to evolve. The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau defines human nature as “perfectibility”, the capacity of becoming perfect.

This is the reason why breaking habits isn’t an easy task. It is shedding an “old nature”. The brain is a ritual machine, functioning with schemes and patterns followed by rewards if well repeated. Addiction is in this picture. To change habits, to shed the “old nature” requires thought changing and new habits.

Replace, repeat, reward!

The climate convention: a democratic challenge?

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

The debate about climate change and global warming has been around almost forever without any tangible worldwide change in the political behaviour or mindset. Clearly it is the endless conflict of politics versus life and this is how dangerous greedy politics has become. So, is the climate “convention” a democratic challenge?

It is unfortunately obvious that a leader who seeks popularity can’t work for the climate. Fighting for environment is fighting against economy, freedom, industries, consumerism, politics and the list is long. Some questions are to be asked for all climate enthusiasts: shall we give up using cars, trains and planes? The thought of it after 2020 the quarantine year can be a splash of icy water. At this point, happy few are up for this challenge of giving up cars, planes and trains but this is no big help. Consequentially, what should be done?

Two main acts, if done seriously, can make a difference. The first one is to have a new industrial policy for producing long term products just like big industrial companies made names to themselves in the last century for producing items that lasted for decades. The second act is educate people again to be sensitive to nature, to be awed by nature’s aesthetics so they will become its defenders. To learn it again requires reconnection with natural elements.

These two acts, especially the first one, are a democratic challenge for the decade to come.

Should You Take The Path of Least Resistance?

Should you take the path of least resistance? The path of least resistance is the physical or metaphorical pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity among a set of alternative paths (Wikipedia definition). The concept is often used to describe why an object or entity takes a […]

Should You Take The Path of Least Resistance?

Are we on an uninhabitable planet?

In the novel, The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells sets out a frightening vision: The world we live in is on the verge of drastic and catastrophic change. We have essentially destroyed our world beyond repair. Complacency and ignorance have finally caught up with us; our once-prosperous lives will soon come to a halt and crash. […]

Are we on an uninhabitable planet?

The philosophy of the doormat

It is peculiar to put the words philosophy and doormat in one sentence. But the truth of a doormat goes deeper to what meets the eye.

A doormat is a mat placed in a doorway, on which people can wipe their shoes on entering a building. They wipe their shoes from dust, mud and bacteria or viruses brought back from the outside. A doormat is then a cleaning mat; that’s the superficial way to understand what it is. However, a doormat is way beyond its wiping function.

A doormat is the separation between the inside and the outside, the private and the public. At the start, the public meant nature where people used to work or spend their days. If we praise nature now, it was not the case longtime ago. Back then and still to this day, nature was synonymous to dirt, dust and dangerous creatures. Residents in houses with gardens know exactly that definition, a doormat in every doorway, daily swiping the floor from sand and dead leaves, tracking insects and spraying pesticides. The same goes for all the daily hygiene because the idea of nature is dirt. Deodorant smells better than natural body odor.

Humans built culture as opposed to nature. They built a world that stands between nature and them, a world that is a mirror to humans. A doormat separates culture from nature.

The fascination of bats

bat-albrecht-durer
painting by Albrecht Durer 

Bats are peculiar creatures, a strange hybrid between a mouse or a fox and a bird. The flying freak sleeps upside down during daytime and gets active during nighttime. There is no doubt this animal was, and stills the object of many fantasies. Therefore what are the main fantasies on bats?

In Biblical tradition, bats were believed to be messengers of Satan.  The Puritans believed that if a bat flew close to someone, somebody was trying to bewitch them. This is the reason why one might see bats sculptures on the outer walls of Gothic churches in Europe.

In 1897, Bram Stoker wrote his Gothic novel Dracula, introducing the character of Count Dracula and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. Stoker was inspired by European myths about vampires and some types of bats that solely drink blood. Dracula inspired more fiction about bat behavior like vampires. The success perpetuated the fantasy and the fascination of bats.

Then in 1939, the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger created Batman, a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books. Originally named the “Bat-Man,” the character is also referred to as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, and the World’s Greatest Detective. Unlike Dracula and the common idea of bats, Batman is a hero fighting criminals and bringing justice to the world.

Just to name these examples among many others, bats became a narrative symbol in our subconscious mind, explaining both fear and fascination of these creatures. It pushed more and more people around the globe to approach bats, studying them, domesticating them, killing them or even eating them. To Chinese, bats are a symbol of happiness!

A bat is an infected animal but due to its immune system it can live with viruses. SARS, MERS, COVID19 are said to have been transferred to humans from bats because of human interactions with them.

A bat, like any other creature, is crucial to the environment equilibrium. We should save bats by letting them be in the wild. Don’t hug a bat, don’t kill it, don’t eat it, and don’t get close to it.

Can we leave bats alone?

 

 

My life this week in 2020 the year of change

photo-1536743939714-23ec5ac2dbae
photo by unsplash.com

The country is shut down due to the corona tsunami and people remain home. For me, it was a new experience as i am teaching online. I hate corona but i am loving this online job experience. However, being locked down, I couldn’t help but wonder about the year 2020.

For those who follow my blog, they know that starting october 2019, we have been on a long revolution against corruption and injustice. So on a shaky land we entered 2020 that hit us with more turmoils and with corona. Horrible as it is, we must look at the bigger picture. 2020 is the year of battles and change; which logically leads to the desire of change or to resistance because of fear. I feel it is a turning point: there is before and after 2020. The decade sounds revolutionary on all levels.

Corona, floods, earthquakes, protests, climate change and more demand responsibility and collective consciousness. It demands awareness and redifinition of oneself, of social structures, of relationships, of politics, of economics. Basically it demands form each one of us a choice and a role. Speaking of Corona: movies, tedtalks, conferences predicted the outbreak of a similar virus. We listened but we didn’t get ready for it. Now that the outbreak is here, what am I going to do? How to deal with others? Who am I and what are my deepest desires? The natural incidents I mentioned indicate the redifinition of the earth itself.

2020 is the year of big lessons in life. Incidents will force us to retrieve into ourselves and connect on a deeper level with our fears and desires. It is the year that must teach us to let go of the past and start fresh new, both on individual and collective levels.

So yes there is fear and loneliness. There is a resistance to change. But do we have a choice other than love and flexibility? I don’t think we do.

 

The correlation between epidemics and turmoils. A brief history review

BlackDeathEngraving

Manmade or nature made, viruses and epidemics have always existed in times of political turmoils. Is it a pure coincidence or is it planned by nature/God/universal forces? Here are some of the deadliest epidemics that shaped human history.

The Plague of Athens devastated Athens during the second year of the Peloponnesian War (430 BC), killing an estimated 75000 to 100000 people. Another plague was the Roman Plague or the Antonine plague (165-180 AD) which had severely affected Indo-Roman trade relations in the Indian Ocean and devestated the Roman Empire. The total deaths have been estimated at five million.

The Black Plague hit Europe and a part of Asia in the mid-14th century and was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, killing seventy five to two hundred million people. the plague created a number of religious, social and economic upheavals, with profound effects on the course of European history.

Fast forward many centuries later, the 20th century had its unfortunate epidemics such as the Spanish Flu (1918-1920). The death toll is estimated at around 100 million. The WWI played a big role in maintaining the disease for that long.

Then came Bird Flu, Sars, Mers, Ebola …. and now Corona.

Aren’t we responsible somehow for all this? If not created by men, isn’t it nature trying to get rid of us due to what we have been doing? This picture below taken by the NASA speaks better than I do:

wp-1583401756385.jpg