Sunday, July 26, 2009

Iceberg ahead

In the last couple of weeks, I have been noticing changes about me. I get nightmares about my workplace, and that is strange because it's the job I like more than any other job I had before. My nightmares surround all kinds of failure. I get into stupid situations, embarrass myself, get a nervous breakdown, lose respect of customers and colleagues, look inferior to colleagues who have their very first day.

Then there are other things I notice. For example the way I become more cynical and cruel about certain things. I used to be an idealist and still think of myself as a friend of people. Someone who hopes for the best of everyone, doesn't want to have prejudices, respects all people. But I notice that prejudices grow, and along with them, hate and rejection, even damnation.
I get involved in political and religious debates of some sort, either on the internet or just in my head. And the way I react is not the way it would have been before. For example, I posted a comment on a youtube video. In the video, the people asked if our army was supposed to retreat from Afghanistan. I wrote there that, while I feel it would be "right" for us to stay there, there is a negative side of me that says we should abandon them and leave them with their self-made, religious society, because we get threatened all the time and it's not us who fucked up. We, as the western world, came up with human right movements and hospitals, and what did their culture achieve? That was what I wrote. And of course I got a negative comment back that said that it's disgusting how I judge over these people.
(By the way, I'm aware of the fact that most people there are "innocent")

It's frustration in me speaking. I don't know if it's a small process or a sudden change. I remember I used to believe it's wrong to judge over people in the strongest way, but I also remember that on September 11th, this side of me was taken over by a side that agrees that sometimes, people have to pay back for what they did, and I would kill if it was my turn to judge over those responsible. Okay, that's a drastic way of saying it.

It's not only that, of course. Many things happened. Maybe the reason why my thinking has become so angry is because I understood that it's not always about right or wrong. Sometimes society does wrong things to respect what should not be respected. The magic term would be political correctness. I mentioned it many times.

Then there is the question about God. I saw many videos on youtube, and the more I get involved in these things, the more it upsets me. It's like I'm trying to do something good by looking for answers, but the more I look, the more life becomes meaningless. I try to find answers to why religions are so bad sometimes and cause so much suffering, and at the same time I try to prove them wrong by making up my mind about them. But then it already leads to more, it leads to questioning that there is even anything or anyone in this universe who gives a shit. In the end it all seems like unreachable standards. And if I was not born to a religious family that indoctrinated me against my will, I would even be free of the burden of believing in a god. It's funny, the reason why I still have a small thread of faith to hold on to is because of something I wish would never have been done to me.

There are times when I feel all fighting for a good life is worthless, and life itself is meaningless. I watch many different kinds of videos on youtube, and I know how to agree or disagree, but in the end I still come into conflicts and it seems like the good side of getting informed soon goes away and I end up watching videos for the purpose of making myself angry. As if I only wanted to prove how wrong it all is.

I've done what I swore an oath to God twenty-eight years ago to never do again. I've created something that kills people. And in that purpose, I was a success. I can tell you, with no ego, this is my finest sword. If, on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What is fair?

Today I saw on the news that many people in the world demonstrated because of an Egyptian woman who got killed in Germany. There were many different responses, some were just sad, others vowed to help make the world more peaceful, and some were just "death to Germany". This made me watch some videos about religions, atheism and world peace again.

One thing I realised is that it's all about the question "what is fair?". And that's what seems to make peace on earth impossible.

Growing up in "the West", I used to believe that there could be peace as long as people focus on what is common sense. There is this idea of the so called golden rule, an idea that is somehow present in most religions, philosophies and ways of life. It's the idea that, whatever you don't want to be done to you, you should not do to others either. Or to treat others the way you want to be treated.

The problem I noticed is that it doesn't work in reality because the definition of justice and fairness is different. Believing that all people could make an agreement and follow some basic rules is only wishful thinking because not all people would submit to such ideas.

I notice two systems that are in conflict with each other:

The secular world: This is mainly the western world, the civilised world, the highly advanced world, the countries that practice democracy, freedom of speech and human rights. Their idea is that everyone has a different opinion, and therefore, it makes sense to just respect each other. Due to its nature, the secular world also consists of people of all kinds of different backgrounds. They have different beliefs, and it's commonly accepted that "you can't know the truth". You can believe in what you think is true, but you have to accept that other people may as well be right about what they believe in. In this world, "fair" is to let other people believe what is right for them, because you want to be treated fair and also have a chance to practice your faith. Nobody knows what is right, so it's "fair" to allow gay marriage, changing or giving up one's religion, and even arguing about religion.

The theocratic world: This applies to countries that have a state religion and where usually more than 90 per cent of the population believe in the same religion. There may be similar characteristics as above (human rights etc.), but they may also not be present, it depends. In this society, there is only one truth that is accepted, and it is undoubtedly perceived as real and undeniable. The system has very clear rules and laws and there is not as much confusion, discussion or arguing about how to deal with certain situations because the rules state clearly what to do and what to not do, what to believe and not believe. Justice and fairness does not come from individuality, because God knows everything and decides what is right and wrong. There is no need to allow opinions that differ, it can actually be a sin to allow other people to do what appears to be wrong. Fair equals just. If a person does what is religiously wrong, it is just to punish the person accordingly. In other words, fair is what God says is okay. Everyone follows that and everything is fine.

In the secular world, the definition of fairness depends on everyone's attempt to go their own way of life that appears to be right to them. In the theocratic world, justice comes from above, whatever a person does, it is only good if the respective holy book says so.

So what are the reasons that there will always be conflicts and no world peace? Well, there are many different scenarios that can show us what's wrong, and I will just name some:

1. Freedom of speech

In the secular world, almost everything can be said. But what is not allowed to be said, is not forbidden to be said in the theocratic world. And vice versa. One example:

Secular world:
allowed: caricatures, parodies and satires on religion, discussions regarding the possible non-existence of god.
forbidden: hate speeches against religions or people, threats of death against countries and people.

theocratic world:
allowed: hate speeches against religions or people, threats of death against countries and people (unless it's about the state religion).
forbidden: anything that goes against the state religion, discussions regarding the possible non-existence of god.

This sounds a little one-sided, I am aware of that. What I wanted to show here is that just because policital correctness exists where we live, it doesn't mean that the other side of the world will not fire back with what seems totally inappropriate to us. In other words, we act in a perfectly legitimate way (from out point of view), while the other ones will perceive our actions as intrusive and disrespectful. They will answer with something that is righteous in their society (expressing the wrath of God), but when it arrives here, it provokes a lot of counter-hate.

2. Freedom of religion

In the secular world, most religions can be practised. Some religions have limited actions available if the country thinks of them as consitutionally dangerous. In the theocratic society, it may be allowed to have a religion other than the state religion, but it can cause to disadvantages, or you are automatically considered relgion x and have to announce that you are, however, part of religion y. But it's also possible that there is no freedom of religion because changing or losing one's religion is a sin. As we saw earlier, right and wrong is not up to humans to decide in this society.
The freedom of religion or "Unfreedom" of religion can also interfere with people getting married, people being gay, and all kinds of other "small" things that world peace does not have to depend on, but local peace can.

3. Entitlement to territory

This is often a problem that two theocratic or religious countries have with each other. The religion of each country tells them that they have a holy right to claim the territory of the other or deserve more territory than they have at the moment. There is no way to discuss this in an earthly manner because the instructions (what is right and wrong) come from above, again. The eagerness to claim territory is not based on anything that you could bargain for. Money, resources, political power, they all don't matter because it's about something religious. And as long as at least one side screams for death, it's where talking becomes useless.

Imagine this as a line that I draw to demonstrate that this list is over

The only way I can see to achieve anything like world peace would be if people actually DID agree on a codex that comes first. And I have to be honest, it would have to be something that comes before religion. Before all the verses regarding "kill those who...." take effect, this would have to be considered first. But how could it be possible anyway? Why would a religious father accept that his son is gay when it's a deadly sin in his opinion? And that's just a very individual matter, there are probably other things like this whole Israel question that have a bigger effect on the whole debate.

I had to become 26 years old to finally understand what the big deal with world peace is. The problem is not the useless fighting, the wars, or the greed. It's the impossibility of establishing one common law for everyone. And that's because there are different answers to "what is fair?"

Friday, July 10, 2009

How to learn for a profession

I want to explain the German working environment to you. If you want to have a career, you have to base it on something. You cannot work from your 20s until your 60s without a foundation, unless you are very lucky. Here are the things I knew so far:

Option one: Job training

A job training is a process that usually takes between 1 and 4 years, but most of the time 3 years. There are job trainings that are only academic (taking place in schools) and, the more common part, mixed job trainings (75% of the job training takes place in a company, the rest in school). During this job training, you basically learn how to carry out a profession. It is paid (except for the only academic version), but usually much less than the profession itself when you have learned it. Usually less then 50% of the usual income, often about a third only.

Option two: Studying

When you study, you go to a university or any other kind of place where people study. It takes longer than a job training, sometimes about 4 or 5 years. It is only academic, consists of lots of theory, and you basically only spend time sitting on your ass, learning stuff from books. There is no real life action involved. It also costs money most of the time, and since you are busy studying, it is difficult to earn a living on the side since you cannot do a full time job, but only get minor income on the side (and since you are not qualified for anything else, you can only do small jobs because this is what the whole thing is about - learn first, then have a proper profession). You also have a problem afterwards since, due to your lack of experience, employers will not find you attractive.

The point is: Studying qualifies you better most of the time and you achieve a higher position in a company compared to a job training, but the job training already allows you to live on the income you get and gives you a smoother transition into the profession. So this is all that I knew up to now.... until today

Option three: Dual studies

I heard about it and had a rough idea what it is, but never took it seriously because it still involved studying, a process I thought always costs more money than it can ever give to you. What I learned today is that, at least in the one I found, you earn up to three times as much as compared to a job training. It not only doesn't cost you anything, you get paid for sitting on your ass learning stuff, and all that in the sheer HOPE of your employer that you will one day be useful to him. Apart from that, you do get to apply what you learned in internships, but they are rather short, so I don't understand why you would get paid so well anyway.
It also doesn't take as long, only 3 years, which is just as long as the average job training. The downside is that you have to study really hard because a lot of stuff is pushed together. It's one of the hardest ways to learn a profession.

Okay, so much about definition. Now I want to tell you what I really don't like about it:

-In school, I was never told this
-In school, they said that someone who studies may earn less in his whole life than someone who didn't study because the one who studies spends about 4-5 years NOT working while the other one already earns money, even though the one who studies has a better-paid job later
-In school, they said he who studies may collect high debts due to studying fees
-In school, they always said it's either studying OR doing a job training
-Studying alone also means that you don't pay any contributions into the old age insurance. That means that your pension as an old person is less for all the years you work less. Therefore, I thought it would be bad for someone like me, who is already in his mid-twenties, to waste more years NOT making contributions
-I always disliked studying due to the fact that it takes 4-5 years (which is not necessarily true, as I NOW know)
-Neither my job advisers, my school, nor my family EVER explained all of this to me

-My brother knew about it
-My mum knew about it
-The whole country knew about it

If I had known that a job training takes as long as a dual studying thing, I might have chosen the latter anyway. It is paid well and you get a good profession afterwards that's well paid. You also make contributions into this whole insurance stuff. I don't know what to say now... I mean, I knew there is such a thing, but I always thought that the salary for working during this dual studies could never outweigh the costs! It didn't even cross my mind. And let me add that the JOB TRAINING I considered in Singapore also cost more than it would have given me!

I mean, why would a company or institution pay so much for you when all you do for them is do an internship here, and internship there, and most of the time, YOU are the one who costs them money because you are new and understand NOTHING of what they are doing. And then? You may fail, or maybe you go to a different company after succeeding. Wow.

I was always someone who didn't know what to do as a job. And I had job advisers who I thought would help me. But they never told me any of this. Why? I mean, I always brought up the reasons for not wanting to study, so why did they not say "hey, wait, you are missing something there." Hmm... anyway, it doesn't matter any more. I think now it's too late anyway.

"I don't want to study because I don't want to realise half way through that it's the wrong thing for me"
"I don't want to study because it costs so much money and I don't get that money from the state"
"I don't want to study because I have not worked much already and if I don't work for the next years, my pension will be low and I will be poor as an old man"

->whoooooosh.... all gone.
My brother will benefit from my mistakes. As always.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fireflies - nature's most underrated miracle

There are many interesting facts about fireflies (they have different names, technically, they are bugs where I live). For example, they can only be seen for few weeks during the summer. And they have a higher energy conversion efficiency than any artificial source of light (up to 95%). That means that only very little energy is lost for warmth radiation, most of the energy is just for producing light.

The best thing apart from the facts is to see them at night. Tonight I arrived maybe around 9:45 pm and was already wondering if I might be too late around this time of the year. But at almost exactly 10 pm, I saw the first ones, and then they became more and more. There are moments when you can turn around slowly and count 15 of them within seconds, just by turning your head and noticing every light you see. Imagine that there are so many insects around you at the same moment. During daytime it's impossible to be aware of.

Walking around on a warm midsummer night with the lights around gives you a peaceful feeling. It's like some magical forest from "Lord of the rings" coming to life. I think that so few people truly appreciate this phenomenon.

I also seized the quietness of the woods to think about my life. A paranoid side of me forbids me to enjoy any hopes of what life could be like, but in moments like these, when everything else is beautiful, I can't help but look forward to what will hopefully work out for me one day. I try to be aware of challenges so that disappointment doesn't even have a chance. If only I already "knew" that it was going to work eventually. But I can only hope. Anyway, I can appreciate life and that's what matters. And walking through the woods also made me wish I was with my special someone.
Now I just want to sleep soon... I hope I get some peace over the weekend and don't have to reach my limits.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The problem with names! (part 2)

Do you notice anything? Yes? Two articles regarding Ronaldo. Cool. What has he done? I haven't heard a lot about Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima in a long time. He was world champion with Brazil a while ago, but he doesn't play for Real Madrid or Inter Milan any more. He moved back to Brazil... so what makes him go into the news twice? Hm... let's see... "Brazil: Ronaldo gets his first title"... okay... not very clear but I get the idea, he won some title with his club... oh... and what's this? He attacked a paparazzo. Oh wait, that's not him, that's Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, the superstar who is 6 years younger. *sighs*
Dammit! How ridiculous does it have to get? How many news articles have to come together before they notice how akward and ridiculous it gets! This is irritating to the reader's eyes.
They are not going to change anything, are they? What happens if one of them dies, I wonder? That would be complete confusion. I'm glad there is not two Michael Jacksons'es who are famous people. That would have been soooo tiring.