Democracy – Self-governance of the people, by the people, for the people.
In his farewell address to the nation, President George Washington gives sage advice to the fledgling republic he helped found, as it tries to find its footing in self-governance, in an era of feudalistic societies.
Among other things, he lays down a case for self-governance without political parties. He puts forth a well thought out argument as to how the mere existence of political parties could imperil our democracy, because by their very nature political parties stand to benefit from factionalism and divisiveness. They achieve this by false propaganda, pitting communities one against the other, thereby weakening the Union.
He writes, “One of the expedients in party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.” He cautions the voter, “You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations.”
Given the unmitigated levels of toxicity in election campaigns and the corruption in our government, the truth in these eloquent words, sounds prophetic. What if we lived in a world as advocated by our first President?
Imagine, an election cycle without any political parties – no democrats, no republicans, no green or any other party. An election cycle, where the individual candidate, unbeholden to any political party, does not have to lean either left or right, but stand upright and run for public office only on the strength of their credentials and beliefs.
My Dear Love,
Looking back, it seems like we were little children trying to play house. But I am glad I stuck with you even though there were times when I wanted to run away from it all. I am grateful that you stayed with me for this incredible voyage we embarked upon, many years ago.
Although I describe this as a journey, it hardly comes close to describing a relationship so intimate, so constantly existent that sometimes it felt as though I would just disappear into this gaping maw. But we found our boundaries and learned when not to over-step.
When the people of Macondo1 saw an actor die in a movie and reappear as a completely different character in another movie, they decided they, “…would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats.”
But, we are not some primitive people from the fictitious Macondo, we are modern people who live on the, ‘Information Highway’. We know intellectually, that movies are commercial ventures made possible by modern technology, built by a large crew of invisible people with the actors being the only visible part of that venture. We know in our minds that actors are people, who portray scripted characters, as navigated by the director.
These actors are nothing like the fantastic characters they play on the screen. They are ordinary people, just like you and me. Yet, somehow seeing them up-close, smiling at us – not straight at the camera, but at me, the movie-goer – inviting us into their homes, into their lives, into marvelous worlds of fantasy and magic, sharing with us their travails and their triumphs, somehow tug at our heart-strings, making us believe in the impossible, just like when we were little children wishing for magic.
Prejudice – blind hatred of a stranger, based on superficial differences
‘I don’t know you from Adam, and even though you have not harmed me in any way, I hate you, I hate you so much.
‘When things go wrong in my life for reasons I cannot fathom, I blame you for that. And there are other times, when a little soul searching and self-introspection can explain the reasons for the bad choices I make, but instead of taking the opportunity to become a better person, I hate you viscerally.
‘And if you think that I will credit you for the things that go right in my life, you are stupider than I thought you were. All that credit belongs solely to me, only me. And if you think that I act like a petulant child, why not? When this hatred of “different” people is sanctioned by my own family and endorsed by the society either explicitly or implicitly.
Recycle – reusing or repurposing a used product, through a process.
I am proud to say that I live in a county where almost anything reusable gets recycled, that the recycle bin fills up faster than the trash bags. Recycling is a good thing. Very little is wasted, which matters because we are a teeming (almost) eight billion on this planet, even the most frugal consumption compounds the environmental problems we already face.
But there must be a limit to things we recycle, like movies. Have you watched any re-cycled movies lately?
I tried to watch the 2015 release of the movie, “Poltergeist”. I caught it on television. Didn’t even know there was another version of that movie.
I caught it in snatches since I was curious to see which modern gadget would snatch up the little girl in the latest version. My first guess was the laptop.
“Ramblings on a word”, is created with the intention of showing a different perspective to a word that is in common use. The definition of the word given in each article, is more specific to the context of the topic of discussion, than the broader definition of the dictionary. So each word mostly stays within the confines of that definition, occasionally it does get twisted around a bit, just to show a different angle or probably because I am irreverent.
Several articles are just my opinion and are written in essay format. Some are personal essays. A small number of them are, “character soliloquy” where I try to channel a character for demonstrable effect. So, even though the article is written in first person, it is not my personal experience, it’s an expression of a view-point through a fictional character, I create for that purpose.
In conversations with friends and family over a period of time, I have come to understand that there is a tendency to distort or stretch the truth. Such alterations make for interesting anecdotes and lively conversation. But, when it comes to regular interaction with people in daily life, staying close to reality keeps life’s flow relatively smooth.
Over the years after listening to numerous personal stories, I realized separating the husk from the grain can be really hard. I also realized that I don’t have to know the absolute truth about everything to have healthy relationships. All I need is a credible approximation of the broad reality. To ascertain this, all I need to do is to discount certain parts of the issues presented, according to the individual’s nature and character.
This is my current formula to get to the heart of the matter:
At first I take all things said in a conversation at face value. No assumptions, no presumptions unless the context is obvious or common in social parlance. In time, a pattern would emerge and some lack of consistency would begin to show, in the continuity of the narratives. Depending on the degree of this inconsistency, I assign discounts to the information presented to me.
Algorithm – method for tracing predictable patterns
When Úrsula Iguarán, matriarch of Buendía family began to go blind in her old age, she devised a clever method to keep the impaired vision a secret. She accomplished this successfully by observing, processing and storing data.
While walking down the verandah one afternoon, she nearly tripped over her daughter, Amaranta who was sitting in the shade doing needlework. Amaranta reacted sharply and asked her mother what was wrong, to which, Úrsula responded that it would not have happened if she was sitting in her usual place. The ensuing conversation and some reflection made Úrsula realize that the sun’s position changed slightly throughout the year, which caused her daughter to move to that extent each day from her usual place into the shade, until one day she obstructed the carefully memorized path.
Úrsula listened, deduced and memorized the patterns of all her family members and realized during the process that her family lived in predictable patterns, so much so that she could pin-point where everyone was at any given moment on any day. Her mental map was so accurate that one time, she helped locate her daughter-in-law’s misplaced wedding band through an aberration in the pattern.
This is the technique Google search, Facebook and other social media websites uses today to understand the behavior of their users and hopefully convert that into advertisement revenue or create emotional hooks by customizing user experience thereby making the user feel special.
Mythology – A study of myths
Myth – figment of collective imagination
It was a time when sun was the only clock. It was long before the era of verified and meticulous documentation, long before the ancient languages had rudimentary scripts developed by primitive linguists.
It was a time when people began exercising vocal chords to express themselves, when the evolving species was still figuring out which of the weeds agreed with humans and that carrion could be detrimental to one’s health.
The tribes would huddle around the communal fire and try to dine with whatever food, that was the result of the latest experiment. That’s when they talked about the things they could never fathom.
Without awareness, their imagination took wings and built extraordinary worlds where magical people lived –