Against ecology: How eco-friendly behavior can be harmful!

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Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS from Pexels

A new theory suggests that we think of our relationship with the environment like a social exchange, leading to the belief that ‘environmentally friendly’ behavior can compensate for ‘harmful’ behavior. And research reveals that thinking like this could have harmful effects on the environment after all.

This is because we may believe that ecological behavior cancels-out non-ecological behavior, while this is obviously not the case. In reality, all consumption causes permanent environmental harm, and green options are at best less harmful rather than restorative. And unfortunately studies show that when so-called ‘eco-friendly’ items are added to a set of ‘conventional’ items, people believe the environmental impact of the whole set is unchanged, or even reduced.

“For instance, some groups have found that people intuitively think the environmental burden of a hamburger and an organic apple in combination is lower than the environmental burden of the hamburger alone, or that the total emissions of a car pool remain the same when hybrid cars are added to the pool,” highlights Sörqvist, one of the researchers.

This leads us to pursue all sorts of misguided quick fixes to assuage our eco-guilt.

“People might purchase some extra groceries because they are ‘eco-labeled’; think that they can justify jetting abroad for vacation because they have been cycling to work; or take longer showers because they’ve reduced the water temperature. And companies – nations, even – claim to balance greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees or by paying for carbon offsets through the European Union Emission Trading Scheme.

“Meanwhile, the best thing for the environment would of course be for us to consume less overall,” stresses Sörqvist. (1)

A research stating nothing more than the obvious.

The solution to a problem is not a solution to the problem.

But the nullification of the problem itself.

There is no need to be eco-friendly.

Because there is no cosmos be friendly to.

You are that cosmos!

You are not part of anything.

You ARE everything!

Try to do good.

And you will end up doing something wrong.

Because the only way to be good is not through doing something.

But through doing nothing.

And letting the universe tell you what is good.

Stand by.

And let that sparrow die.

It will be the best thing you did for it…

HR (lost) wisdom: The toxic culture of ‘Perfectness’ (The Nimitz example)

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Society today values being perfect.

We seek perfect professionals.

We seek perfect companions.

We seek perfectness in anything we do.

And sure…

HR ‘lets go’ of people who are not perfect.

The mottos of companies promote excellence and perfectness.

Why seek anything else?

Would anyone pay for failures?

Not the perfect ones!

I am sure all the above do ring a bell in one way or the other. Perhaps not in their absolute form, perhaps not in the sense mentioned above but in another very similar one. Yet, this idea of ‘perfectness’ penetrates and transcends out culture and our thought and it is very hard to find a company or a person not pressing themselves to strive for the perfect.

Sure, mistakes are for humans. We learn by our mistakes. But these kind of words are limited to our parents and our loved ones, or – at best – to a sympathizing HR manager scolding a low-level employee on their first mistake at the work. If you want to be in the big league, big mistakes are unforgivable. See for example two incidents in the US Navy here (Navy Removes USS Philippine Sea CO After Fuel Spill) and here (2 Top Officers of Navy Ship John S. McCain Are Removed) and here (Carrier Roosevelt CO Relieved Over ‘Extremely Poor Judgment’ in Creating ‘Firestorm’ Over COVID-19 Outbreak).

Now…

Let me tell you a story…

Ensign Chester Nimitz [source: US Naval Institute]

Meet Chester Nimitz.

You might know the name Nimitz to-day. Because it is the name of a whole class of nuclear powered aircraft carriers [source].

Impressive aren’t they?

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), left, and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conduct dual aircraft carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. [source: Wikimedia]

The honor of naming a whole class of ships after you is not an easy feat, especially when we talk about aircraft carriers which are at the cornerstone of the US power projection capabilities as we speak.

But it was a natural thing for Nimitz.

You see Chester William Nimitz, Sr.  was a fleet admiral of the United States Navy. He played a major role in the naval history of World War II as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas, commanding Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II.

Chester Nimitz while Chief of Naval Operations [source: Wikimedia]

On September 2, 1945, Nimitz signed as representative of the United States when Japan formally surrendered on board USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. On October 5, 1945, which had been officially designated as “Nimitz Day” in Washington, D.C., Nimitz was personally presented a second Gold Star for the third award of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal by President Harry S. Truman “for exceptionally meritorious service as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, from June 1944 to August 1945.” [source]

The surrender of Japan aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945: Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, representing the United States, signs the instrument of surrender. [source: Wikimedia]

Amazing story isn’t it?

Well this is the end.

Oh, did I tell you how the story started?

Well…

In 1908, Ensign Chester Nimitz ran the destroyer USS Decatur (DD-5) aground in the Philippines. He was court-martialed, found guilty of neglect of duty, and issued a letter of reprimand. [source] It was a different era so he still able to make admiral despite this career setback [source].

USS Decatur (DD-5), 1902. [source: Wikimedia]

Would Nimitz be able to get to be an admiral (let alone Fleet Admiral) if he had such an accident to-day?

Short answer: NO.

He would be relieved of command and would be lucky to have a desk job until the end of this pathetic thing he would dare to call carreer.

To-day we are too perfect to allow specks of imperfection stain the perfect image we have been trying to build for us, our company, our customers, our Navy. And yet, are we getting any better? Are we improving the way we treat people? How many Nimitz admirals have we forced to drop out of the Navy because we cannot tolerate the obvious?

Experience is our teacher.

Yes, mistakes are human nature.

My mom told me that.

And I am sure Fleet Admiral Nimitz would say that too.

Note: Later in his career as a commander of a submarine squadron he may have remembered this initial incident when he cut some slack for a sub commander who bent a prop pulling away from the pier [source: The Admirals].

Because at the end…

What do you get when you fire someone who has run a ship aground?

Someone who has never had the experience of running a ship aground…

Post-Covid philosophy: The illusion of Freedom. (And why you are addicted to it)

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Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

In the face of the Covid pandemic (coronavirus) many countries imposed nation-wide lockdowns. We are now at the phase of easing those lockdowns. Businesses start operating gradually again and life is beginning to regain its momentum.

During one of the previous days and as part of this ‘going back to normal’ phase we are all in, I visited an electronics shop. I needed something to buy and I had postponed it a long time now. While I was walking in the store I suddenly discovered many other nice things I could use and I was immediately tempted at buying them. It was only after careful recollection and – I must admit – due to my degraded consuming reflexes because of the two-months quarantine, that I decided at the end not to buy them.

I returned home only with what I wanted. And it felt weird. I really felt like a junkie who had just denied himself the most exquisite of drugs just because – for a funny weird reason – he just did not want them?!

What had happened to me?

Why did I change like that?

Well…

As in all great questions, the question itself was wrong!

I should better be asking…

What had been happening to me all this time before?

Because you see…

I was already changed!

And as weird as it seems, that big change, the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdowns and the overall slowing down of life itself, had simply led me (and many others, as I understand) back at what we once used to be.

Just wander for yourself.

Did you always drink coffee in the morning? Were you always addicted to cell phones? Did you always need to login into dozens of sites to read news? Were you always addicted to buying things just because you have money to do so?

Our life is not our own.

And yet, we claimed ownership a long time ago.

Trying to impose our self on us.

The greatest illusion of them all – the greatest conspiracy in which we all abide, is the illusion that we are free men. Free to do as we want. Free to buy or not buy things. Free to sell things. Free to find a job, free to quit a job.

But we are not.

We do buy coffee every morning. Not because we want it, but because we have learned to do so. We do buy more and more things every day. Not because we will die if we don’t, but because we have been trained to do so. We sell things when we wish so. But only because of wishes that have been imposed on us by others. We are “free” to get a job. But only the jobs we have been told that are the ones worth it.

Many people have wrongly attributed the lockdowns to a global conspiracy to keep us at home. But this is the opposite of the greatest conspiracy unfolding before our very eyes: The conspiracy to be out and wander free, doing whatever you want.

Because feeling free is the greatest drug of them all. And when you take it, you never think that you might be not. The freedom is not what you really need. The illusion of grandeur that you feel is your true drug.

But remember Zen.

Seek less, to have more…

Staying at home.

Not buying things.

Being with family.

Those things that seem like ‘nothing’.

Are the ones which are everything.

These are the things that we used to do back in the days when we did not know that we could do “whatever we want”. And inside our “prison” we did feel happy. With no obligation to do things we did not want or to buy useless things that just make the void in our soul bigger. For while a “free” man can buy a coffee he doesn’t need and then come out of an electronics shop with two bags of things he “wants”, a a man in prison can dwell on the outer skirts of the universe by reading a book…

Now we will start going out again.

The “prison” doors are open.

But don’t be so happy being miserable.

Just ask the obvious…

– Sir, would that be a single or double espresso?

With respect to the dead… [The Coronavirus Sweden example]

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Photo by Lucas Craig from Pexels

Coronavirus crisis has helped in revealing the true nature of people and of states. Crises of such proportions do have the tendency of doing so.

Within the crisis people feared death, people laughed at death, people showed ignorance of epic proportions for basic scientific facts, others just chose to worry about everything while some of their friends were totally cut off from the crisis itself while sipping coffee.

And while dancing in the shadows.

Each man showed his real face…

States over the world similarly exhibited varied reactions to the coronavirus, with some imposing strict lock-downs, others doing nothing and then imposing lock-downs, while others imposed no or very limited measures whatsoever.

And while dancing in the shadows…

Some states revealed a monster.

And unlike fairy tales, monsters in this case were beautiful and clean. Even happy. One could never believe they are monsters anyway. Unless they hear the silence beyond their laughter…

Sweden once again startled the world. By choosing not to impose any measures or general lockdown (with the exception of banning big gatherings/ large events). Sweden and Swedes believe that their strategy was great and successful. They claim that they have managed to keep deaths at a low while not imposing a devastating lockdown which would collapse the economy.

First of all, the claim that they kept deaths low is wrong. The deaths in Sweden due to coronavirus per million are much higher than comparable nations which did much better at containing the new virus (e.g. Greece). Secondly, there is a price for keeping the economy happy. That price is death. And Sweden has a long tradition in doing so.

In the case of the coronavirus, the price is paid not by the people going out for coffee or drinks (without keeping safe distances by the way – no, the cause of the “success” is not in the obedience or the responsibility of the Swedes), but by the elderly. They are the ones who die in the nursing homes for the rest of Sweden to be able to go out and cry “Success!”…

This is not a secret either. It is known to everybody. It is just that there seems to be a prioritization of the economy over life, especially when that life is the life of a person in his late 70’s. As a restaurant owner said “With respect to the people who died, life goes on”.

With respect to the dead…

Sweden kept on doing business with Hitler during WW2, while other countries paid a huge death toll while fighting against the… business partner of Sweden. (See “Allies trading with Hitler – Economic games during World War II” for details)

With respect to the dead…

Sweden had eugenics long before Hitler even considered them. (Check “Evil Sweden strikes back… (or: How to sterilize “inferior” people)” for details)

With respect to the dead…

Sweden chooses to put a price on human life and leave everything uncontrolled because anyway it is the elderly who will die. Elderly who are anyway in nursing homes, so why care right? (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Because at the end what is under question here is not the effectiveness of that measure of the other, but something much more fundamental: The value of human life itself. And Sweden has chosen to answer that question. No, don’e be fooled. It is not that the answer Sweden has given is wrong. The problem with questions is that they contain the answer as Aristotle said. And when you ask the value of human life, you will inevitably give an answer somehow. And this answer will have effects.

And measures will not be taken.

And the elderly will be left alone.

And the businesses will keep on working.

And people will keep on laughing.

While an old man dies alone.

Tell me, young man.

With respect to the people who live…

How can you put a price on the dead?

PS. This is not an anti-Sweden article per se. Sweden just gave a perfect example of how modern civilization measures the value of human life in money today. There are many other nations which think the same way as Sweden. For example in Gernamy Wolfgang Schäuble advocated for a more even calculus between public health and the economic and social consequences of a prolonged shutdown, fearing an overload of state capacities. He also disagreed with subordinating all other concerns to the goal of saving lives, claiming “this in its absolutism is not correct,” as the German constitution’s right to human dignity “does not exclude the possibility that we must die”. (source) That is a great line by the way. If only it was told by the man dying…

Do you believe in your Faith?

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We have a lot of discussion today about the “persecution” of Christians. Modern “Christians” feel persecuted because the churches are closed, because they do not open together with the… other businesses, because there are no religious events while other events perhaps are allowed, because they will put a chip in us and the Antichrist will come, etc. All this – at least some – are legitimate questions that need to be addressed. However, there is a fine line between what concerns us as Christians and what is really important. And equally important is the way we express our concerns. A post? Two posts? Crying out loud (online) about upcoming doom? Because anxiety is good to have in moderation if needed, but a lot of anxiety eventually becomes funny.

Christianity will not die because COVID-19 has come. Not even because of the lockdown. Christianity has survived – to be more precise, it had FLOURISHED – in times of great persecution. If today’s concerned “Christians” were living in the times of the great persecutions, they would probably have died on the spot from a stroke before they had time to worry (or they would have changed their minds and denounce Christianity). Because, unfortunately, hypocrisy, like stupidity, seems to have no limits. From the time when some people went to church, we have now reached to a time when online hordes of Christians protest because the churches were closed. Not because they are anxious about Christianity per se. But because they are anxious that they do NOT appear to be Christians. And in today’s era phenomena are not just important, they are all we have left.

Hey you. You, who are protesting …

How many times do you pray at home? How honestly do you believe in God? How much do you need others to know that you believe?

I’m sorry to say it, but the comparison with Muslims is heartbreaking. No, I am not in favor of Islam as you (might) know. I am a Christian. But let’s be honest. While we are anxious and afraid that Christianity may be destroyed by “persecution” on Earth because due to a sudden WORLD VIRUS OUTBREAK and in the middle of GENERAL LOCKDOWN the churches are closed, the Muslims simply continues to believe and pray wherever they can.

No, Christianity is not going to die because of quarantine. It has already died inside you a long time ago…