Tag Archives: Opinion

Interdependence and Happiness

For a great part, happiness is a state of mind.  And for most of us, we have basic needs of food, water, shelter, security etc met.  We are able to grow and can contribute to our loved ones or to our community, in small or larger ways.  As long as we are grateful for our blessings and not be overly distracted by excessive wants, we can be consistently (mostly) happy, as well as have motivation to fulfill our purpose, to grow and give back.

That said, it is probably easier to be happy if we are not starving, if we are not caught in the middle of a civil war, or have not just lost our family and/or homes to disasters e.g. storms, floods.  The question is: how many of these issues are man-made, and how many can be solved or managed collectively by us?

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Interdependence (Between People)

Our population numbers are becoming larger, and our world is becoming more crowded. The level of technology is increasing constantly.  It is inevitable that external factors affecting happiness will become increasingly anthropogenic (caused by humans).  

Despite this trend, interdependence continues to be generally misunderstood.  The Climate Debate will be used to illustrate various points about Interdependence and Happiness.

Popular Misconception of Interdependence 

For Climate Change, an issue in which numerous world leaders including the Pope has given weight to, there have been important, thorough, credible international collaborations and synthesis climate reports.  The IPCC AR5 report assessed and compiled more than 30,000 stand-alone scientific studies and simulations for a broad understanding on the topic.  The conclusion reached is that there is a >95% probability warmer global climate is anthropogenic.  

Nearly all major scientific organizations concur with the synthesis reports, leaving a few who are non-committal (mainly geologists). Even more strikingly, the American Institute of Petroleum Geologists, the last major scientific organisation to dissent, changed their dissent to a non-committal position in 2007.  Yet despite the near scientific consensus for many years, only 50% of the general population feels likewise.

Popular Media and Misconception 

The divergence between the scientific and popular opinion is commonly attributed to the media coverage.  Apparently, coverage is fifty – fifty (M.T. Boykoff & J.M. Boykoff, 2004), sometimes even leaning more towards climate denial.  Reasons attributed are the focus on media sales (controversial stories sell), mis-reporting and lack of understanding, a wrong understanding of balanced reporting etc.

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(Fifty – fifty reporting may seem balanced, but it is akin to giving a flat earth advocate as much air time as scientists, without thorough and scientific comparison, to disastrous results.  Rather, balanced reporting is to detail evidence, and to explain each evidence’s weight in the issue; not to manage the reporting of evidence so that they look equal to the uninitiated.)

Misconception of Distance

Of course, like other areas when Interdependence is downplayed, the distance to the issue probably plays an important role too.  Generally, apathy is the norm for issues that are perceived to be of lesser direct personal consequence, or that seem out of our personal span of control.  There-in lies the fallacy.  Compared to any other time in history, our individual actions mean a great deal more, due to the effect of aggregation, our large population numbers, internationalization and through our consumption decisions which direct businesses that wield massive impact.

“(Interdependence) It costs each individual nothing to dump their gases and it costs nothing for nations very little to dump their gases into the atmosphere.  But the harm done by that is borne by people all over the world… That is the tragedy.”

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Spreading the message and voting with our wallets etc aka our aggregated actions do matter.  For Climate Change, there are many cases where after a massive consumer outcry, businesses do a full U-turn of environmental policies for the better in days, compared to decades of inaction despite environmentalist pressure.  Similarly, for areas where interdependence is critical, our actions can make the difference.

The Future of Happiness: Climate Standpoint

Interdependence is very misunderstood element of happiness. Sometimes, it takes too much blame for directly preventable unhappiness.  At many other times, it is forgotten and we do nothing to help ourselves and our community to prevent a global disaster, when we have the means to.

In the case of Climate Change, if not slowed, the extreme weather and environmental degradation indirectly caused by us (consumers) will trigger more health conditions, cause more deaths. destroy more homes etc, and eventually make the world a less livable and less happy place.

Hence, our combined apathy or our interest and actions may mean the difference of whether our shared planet will be damaged, whether whole cities and homes will be submerged/destroyed, lives lost and health impacted, to the great detriment of the happiness of people all over the world.  Or whether healing can occur instead, for the beautiful planet we share, and which contributes in our well-being!

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As always, thank you for reading and/or sharing your views.

Media Credits:  Cocoparisienne, Bessi, Tookapic, Schmid-Reportagen

Truth and Happiness

Importance of Truths

Truths are important to the fabric of society.  From the workings of government, economy and financial system to family life.  Without Truth, no one will trust another, and activity will grind to a halt.

Currier_and_Ives_Brooklyn_Bridge2 1024px-The Modern Suspension Bridge and Surroundings: Truth and Trust

But are all Truths created equal?  The common misconception is Yes.  The answer is surprisingly No.

Relevant Truths Increase Situational Utility

Relevant truths help to aid efficient transactions, saving time, effort and money.

Being aware of relevant truths can help the proper assessment of the situation, and promote solution of problems or improvements.

Being in touch with inherent strengths and weakness can help maximize utility and/or preventative measures before things get bad.

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Geometry and The Metric System in Engineering and Trade

(Excess Focus on) Irrelevant Truths Reduce Situational Utility

On the other hand, irrelevant truths can confuse the issue at hand, prevent the solution of problems or hinder improvements.

Irrelevant truths can increase animosity between two parties who are better off co-operating.

Irrelevant truths distract from purpose wasting valuable time, effort and money.

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The Historical Pig War (1859) : Irrelevant Truth to Peace and Harmony
“Let’s Go to War: He killed my Pig” (Image only for dramatic effect)

The list goes on.

With this, let’s examine Happiness through the vantage of metaphysics.

Metaphysics – Things We Take As Real (Truth), Are Not

As we sit at our desk. on our chair, furiously typing our thoughts out, many of us forget that the objects found in our daily lives  (e.g. chairs, tables, our body) are probably much more spatial than Matter.  

The prodigious Greeks lacked the implements of modern science. That did not stop them though: Instead, they ran thought experiments and deduced that matter spliced will give rise to the indestructible Atom. 

Chair Matrix
Furniture withIn the Construct (Matrix)
Are Daily Objects Reality or Imagination?

Infinite Splicing of Reality

For many centuries after, the Atom stood “indivisible”.  Then sure enough, in 1897, a chap named JJ Thomson discovered the electron empirically, subdivided the Atom and replaced it with a plum pudding (model) for the Nobel Prize.  Before long, all manners of discoveries broke lose.  The nucleus, the Rutherford planetary theory (space and particles), the electron particle and wave theory, neutrinos, etc.  Like our beloved smartphones, the next flashy iteration of “Reality” seemed always around the corner.

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The Discussion of Aristotle

Irony of the Familiar

Apparently, causation is unlikely to surface through empirical means (or so say the rationalist philosophers), even in a hundred years.  And if we cannot fully understand the Reality and nature of the objects we can see, feel, hold etc, what more with feelings and intangible concepts like Happiness?

Certainty within Uncertainty: Relevant “Truths”

Not all hope is lost!  While not 100% certain, scientific rationalization and experiential verification over centuries has derived sufficient objective Relevant (but not eternal) “rules” for physical phenomena.  These rules are used to manage and explain  complex daily phenomena with great certainty, even to create microcosms (e.g. working engines) and interacting systems (e.g. modern robots) dependent on the said “principles”.

Nao the Robot: An interacting system dependent on Scientific “principles”

We make a distinction here: Relevant “Reality” is repeatable across everyone’s conscious experience.  The contrast is imagination, dreams and poorly based perceptions (which are not general, nor rule based, and unlikely to be “Truth”).

To reiterate, Final Truths are not required to achieve the daily.  Purpose and the Relevant “Truths” are.

Elements of Happiness

Similarly, for meaningful and lasting Happiness, beyond the physcial “rules”, we need to derive and transmit Relevant “Truths” for Purpose, Gratitude, Ethics, Interdependence, Psychology, Healthcare, Governance, Economics etc.  Of course, sometimes Ignorance is bliss, but that is until Reality bites.

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Conclusion

In Life, there are the known and the unknown, even with things we can see, touch and feel. Despite the unknown and the trickery of perceptions, we are able to scientifically derive Relevant “rules” that help us understand and manage our physical realm to a high degree of certainty.  Similarly, in order to have Happiness, we need focus on the Relevant and not let the irrelevant overwhelm us.  While we may not know the Eternal Truth, I am certain we can learn and share enough of the Relevant Truths to explain and derive  Happiness.

Have a great time with the Relevant, and thank you for reading and/or views!

PS: The metaphysical discussion also prepares us for the topic of Relativism, an important topic for Happiness and Ethics.

Image Credit: Warner Bros, Currier and Ives, Jebulon, Daniel Stark, Grabbeau, Sharon Ang

Wonderful Wednesday

This is a homey, light-hearted piece from April’s blog “April’s Perspective” about being grateful for some of the little things we take for granted e.g. security, medical care, freedom of expression, privacy etc, versus those who are not so fortunate.

A grandmother and volunteer, her short anecdotes and re-collections/comparisons of her parents’ time sets down some notes of time, change, place. Particularly of interest, the spot on how frightening polio, measles, mumps, and rubella were not so long back, and the improvements to medicine since (modern medicine is still not perfect of course).  

A personal account! 🙂

Image Credit: Beau Considine, Autumn Temptations

April's Perspective

Its another Wonderful Wednesday and time to be grateful for how darned spoiled I am.

It is a beautiful summer day, and listening to NPR this morning, I heard stories of the struggles of Syrian refugees.  Here I am in the land of plenty, and taking full advantage.  I live in a home where I feel completely safe.  I feel no need to be armed.  I feel no fear to walk down the street, not even at night in most neighborhoods, in most anywhere in the country.   I can say whatever I want and express any opinion no matter how many others disagree with me, I don’t even have to be particularly nice about it.  Being nice helps if you want people to stay and listen, because where I live we can just walk away and stop listening.   These rights extend to social media, where I have blocked several…

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