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…

No, I do NOT want to be a billionaire! (or Bruce Lee)

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Seek peace… Conquer the world…

There is a great hype lately about how some new billionaire must be our new idol. And I totally disagree with that hype. Billionaires are not only overrated. They are constantly advertising all those things that should not be part of the principles in a man’s life.

To begin with, there is nothing wrong with being successful. I am not arguing against that. I am arguing against the definition of successful though.

Successful is raising your kids without having money.

Not creating companies with your dad’s money.

Successful is having a hard life and still smile.

Not being a rock star and being praised for working more than eight hours.

Successful is having a family and raising your kids.

Not changing women like shirts and buying your kids yachts.

Successful is creating a good company without subsidies.

Not posing as an entrepreneur with my money.

Successful is finishing your phD or your bachelor’s degree.

Not quitting school because you had an ‘idea’.

Successful is having humble beginning and still stay humble.

Not pose as the new Tony Stark while governments (or agencies) support your ideas.

Successful is breaking your will to accept the world.

Not breaking everything to impose your own will to the cosmos.

Does that sound like failure to you?You might be right.Because at the end, success is not measured by success. No, these are not excuses for me not being a billionaire. I am sure I would be one if I had the Jedi-mind ability to convince people of things which might lead them to jail or if I managed to convince NASA to give me money to build spaceships with a company I owned which could not make spaceships (random example). I am sure I would be a zillionaire if I decided to leave all my family and children and friends while pursuing my dream to save the cosmos from something it never asked to be saved from.

People admire Bruce Lee for being a master of the martial arts. But there is nothing magic in being one. All you have to do is practice all day long every day until you die. See? You can be Bruce Lee too. And a billionaire (but then you wouldn’t have time to get that black belt). And a phD holder (but then you wouldn’t have time to be a billionaire). And a family guy (but then you might not even have time to get a phD)…

It is all a matter of priorities. So get your’s straight. And stop admiring false idols.

At the end, every man (and woman) can go on his own path. What we need to make sure though is not that the path is enlightened. But that the path leads to light at the end…

If that difference troubles you, then cheer up. You are in the right path already. Only some tears away from a smile…

Or you can always be Bruce Lee.

The Boeing case: Not Boeing’s fault! It is our ethics!

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Boeing airplane [Source]

Last week several emails exchanged between Boeing employees were revealed, in which those employees seemed to know about the problems of the 737 MAX airplane and even ridicule the authorities and the airlines for believing them that there were no problems. The investigation is ongoing.
One cannot of course know from now the result of the investigation. However the comment I would like to make has nothing to do with that per se. What I would like to comment is the all increasing cases of corporate scandals at the highest levels and of the highest severity, severity which only seems to increase as time passes.

The Enron case…

The mortgages scandal…

Apple and sweatshops in China…

Cambridge Analytica…

Boeing and the 737 MAX…

More and more we are being held witness to grand corporations breaking the law or bending it to a point where lives, the economy at a large scale or basic human rights are at stake.

Why does this happen?

Viewing this as a result of ad hoc errors, miscalculations, or even one-time fraudulent behavior by specific “bad” people who are not the norm simply won’t do it. No, the exceptions are becoming more and more and we have to consider whether the rule we believe that applies truly holds. Are big corporations really ethical? CAN they be ethical in a place where profit is the one and only goal?

The answer is a simple NO.

And this answer also offers an insight on WHY those incidents take place, while offering us a glimpse to the future as well. The western man’s dream is that of making money. We have for a long time now lost connection with basic spirituality. We have lost touch with those principles which actually make us humans and have relied on an arbitrary tool (money) to define our happiness. This may sound corny, but it is true.

Trading was thought of as an inferior activity in ancient Greece. Traders were treated as inferior people during the era where philosophy flourished. Answering the metaphysical questions of humanity seemed more important than selling things and generating profit for Aristotle and Plato. Can you blame them? The Byzantine Empire also held trade in low esteem; actually charging for interest was not allowed back then.

And then came Protestantism. And then people started trading. And then people started making money. And from that point onward, nothing else mattered. I am not blaming Protestantism for Boeing of course. If it wasn’t that, it would any other religious movement that would be used by people to make an excuse for their need to wealth and power, instead of the need of the cosmos for us to stay humble and accepting (Christian values).

Related article: The source of Ethics

We want control and power. We wish for more when we have enough. And after we get it, we want even more. Greediness and arrogance is what characterizes us. And there is no end in the tunnel. That is why no matter how successful one company is, it does not seem to have enough. And there is no way to get more and more by legal means. There is always a limit to how much money a company can earn in a regulated environment, let alone an environment with ethical values (we don’t such environment, just saying). So it is logical and expected that big companies tried to find a way to circumvent rules and regulations to achieve their (almost by definition) un-achievable goals.

Who sets these goals?
Society.
Who forms society?
You. The man next to you. Everyone.

No, again I am not saying that you and me are to be blamed for critical flaws that Boeing hid from the authorities. Just should be served in that case. However everyone is to blame for the way everyone puts money and profits in the throne of the King. If everyone sees success in profits and failure is lack of them, then it is only logical that companies would try to get more of them.

Wait a minute! you could say. When we celebrate successful companies for having profits, we do so with the assumption that the profits would be made legally! No one approves of a company breaking the law or making profits the wrong way!

But this is what is great here! Most of the above cases were conducted either legally (e.g. Cambridge Analytica) or on the verge of the boundary between legal and illegal (e.g. the mortgages scandal or Apple and its factories in China)! If Apple has factories with people working under gruesome conditions in a country which allows such conditions, is that illegal? If a bank provides mortgages to people who cannot repay but everything is approved as per the bank processes and the regulators say nothing and then others are buying derivatives based on those mortgages isn’t the whole system to blame? If the FAA approved the 737 MAX is it Boeing to blame? If the airlines approved the fact that no training was needed for this completely new plane, is it Boeing to blame? Or also the whole culture of “Profit is the King”?

So no, the legal or illegal character of the actions is not what those scandals have in common. Law can be circumvented or changed (for better or worse). There is something much fundamental and much darker lurking in the depths of our degraded era…

How could an airline consider not having any training in simulators for a plane with such changes, only because there didn’t want to pay for this training? How could people profit on loans on homeless people only to earn some more money? How could the European regulator blindly trust the FAA for a new plane which would carry lives in the sky?

Can you start seeing that something lurking in the dark taking shape?
Performing such actions and at that level, especially actions which affect human lives and the basic human rights, is conducted not only because either the law or the regulatory authorities processes have holes. The biggest cause for all of the above, is the big holes we have in our ethical foundations. Because no matter how many excuses a company or a person can find based on the law or the regulations, there are would be no excuses if there existed a solid ethical foundation to which everyone should comply with. Even cases which were clearly illegal from the first minute and which resulted in people getting in prison (as in the Enron case), would be completely avoidable if ethics were instilled in society as a whole. If the King was declared naked.

No, PROFIT is not the ultimate goal!

Do that sound corny? Yes. And I do not care. It is ethics we need. Not profits. The more we look only at those the more such scandals as the above will increase and increase with no end in sight. Why stop at 10 billion dollars profit when you can make 20? Why stop at 20 when you can make 50?

Who could provide this ethical foundation?

Well, for this we can re-iterate the beginning of this article…

“Trading was thought of as an inferior activity in ancient Greece”…

Do you see now?

We have lost our grasp of what is right and what is wrong. We have broken our moral compass (God) a long time ago. And now we are just wandering with no goal except the goals we set…

And still…

That dark shape in the dark is afraid…

Of us listening to the voice we used to listen to…

“Thou shalt not lie”…

Towards the oppression of democracy [majority of the stupid]. Towards the oppression of uncultured (but rich) people…

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Is it important to be a noble? Yes.
Is modern democracy an atrocity? Yes.
Are nobles the hope for the future? Maybe. Perhaps.
Will the no-nobles save us after all? It seems so.

But let’s take things from the beginning…

Thesis: The nobles

Once upon a time there were noble people. Kings, barons, lords. People with titles, who did whatever they could to keep them and be worthy of them. Because being noble was directly related to being cultured. Regardless of their political actions (bad examples of which we can see both in people with titles and with no titles alike) these people tried to educate themselves, they were keen in keeping the most rich libraries and even supported philosophers just for the sake of philosophy, like in Kant’s case.

Everything looked good.
But then something happened.
Then came money…

Antithesis: Money. The “people”

And power passed on to the hands of uncultured people. Because making money is not even related to being cultured. (no, education is not related to culture) The exact opposite actually: the more cultured you are, the less you want to participate in the processes generating big wealth. The lowest layers of society learned about the power they could hold. Without educating themselves of course.

Imposing the “correct” to the many always entails a kind of power that the many despise. Nobody wants to be told what to do. People speak against monarchy or aristocracy not because there was no progress with these regimes (science was cultivated in these regimes) but because they want no one above their heads. And yet they do not realize that the tyranny of a king or of an aristocracy is not even compared to the tyranny of democracy which has proved much less susceptible to change and much more hereditary (when kingdoms spread to Europe a revolution changed everything every one or two decades, with the advent of democracy the same people steal the money of people for years and years without anyone doing anything) than any monarchy regime. Yes, democracy is a stupid and dangerous regime. Because it gives the power to people for the benefit of the people. And the people are by majority uncultured. The right regime should somehow give the opportunity to the wise people to take decisions in their related sectors. The ideal regime would have the best of monarchy (someone with power to impose the proper decisions), aristocracy (the best of the best decide on the things they know) and politeiocracy (power stems from the people for the benefit of the state and not the people, in which the cultivation of people by already cultured people should be of prime importance). Socrates said it so many times and that is why he was killed: Wise people should take all the decisions for things they know. Is it hard to find these wise people? Yes. But that does not mean that we should give up all the power to the uncultured.

In the old days you had barons celebrating art in their castles. Nobles coming together to listen to room music or exchange opinion on metaphysical matters. Lords holding hundreds of precious books in huge libraries. Kings who tried to stay in history by sponsoring culture in any possible way. Now we have every random, illiterate, unaesthetic guy classified as “educated” because they just finished the obligatory education the state provides, travelling on first class, running businesses, funding universities, deciding whether the ideas of others will be implemented, deciding on the fate of whole people.

Illiterate people were always the majority.
The difference is that now they hold the power.
Good luck to us all.

Synthesis: The masses listen to the wise people?

Wise men did try to break the barriers of stupidity and inform the masses of their following a wrong path. But how much they actually achieved is hard to know. Masses are stupid and that is why they can be led quite easily with the right methods. (I am not discussing here how good the people composing these masses are: being kind is related to being able to think or have the choice to be bad so there is not one straightforward answer to that question – usually when a “good” person gets power he becomes worse than an animal) Masses may have killed Socrates and Jesus Christ, but they now try to comprehend their teachings. Masses may not understand Kant and Heidegger but what these people said and wrote exert a metaphysical pressure towards the correct direction. Masses may never admit it, but they subconsciously understand that they are stupid and recognize their need to be led by wiser people. The masses have the tendency to think less and this makes them more susceptible to accepting the cosmos and its meaning and true purpose. Simple people are the ones who understand better the teachings of wise people related to love, compassion, forgiveness. Perhaps in this essence masses are the hope of the world.

Epimetron of hope: The “crazy” people will save us

In every era and while all “civilized” people tried to impose their opinion on the others, some “madmen” who wandered around ragged between the people, teaching “irrelevant” and phenomenally “meaningless” things about love. But kings always respected and in a curiously manner feared these people. People of power always looked with a kind of awe these picturesque “lunatics” who wandered alone in the desert. After all it were simple fishermen who transmitted the message of Christ to all the nations. And at the end, wise people do not care for any of the above.

We are all One.

As above, so below.

Stem cells therapies. Stem cells marketing stunts.

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An injured knee can cost a pro football player millions of dollars, or even an entire career. MIT Technology Review reports that, in an effort to regrow cartilage and heal injured tissue quickly, hundreds of players are injecting bone marrow cells into their knees and hips. Evidence is weak that the procedure actually works and, as with all unproven stem cell therapies, there could be risks involved. Just ask the lady who grew a bone in her eyelid after getting (illegal) cosmetic stem cell injections.

“We don’t really know exactly what it does, biologically”, orthopedic surgeon Freddie Fu told Tech Review. (1)

Science uses stem cells therapies as a promo for more research funding.
But on the other hand warns against stem cell therapies.
Marketing is good. As long as people do not die.
But how can you advocate for something if you do not believe in it? What kind of religion warns against practicing its own practices for fear of death?
Practices that are funded by the very same people (a.k.a. “taxes”) who are willing to take a chance and try these new therapies?
There was a time when science and religion was one thing.
There was a time when people believed in themselves.
Now we only believe in money.
And we just do not care about people.
As long as they are alive.
As long as they give us their money…