Archive | October, 2018

125. Emergence of Tyrants; Balancing Competition and Kindness

23 Oct

It is in my nature to want to understand how tyrants emerge from relatively peaceful populations. This is a real issue for our times (2018). The essay below addresses this question. This subject is difficult, political, provocative and controversial. I have tried to present a variety of ideas relevant to this topic. The reader may want to use these ideas together with his/her own experiences and knowledge to form conclusions.

Excessive competition and bullying early in life might lead to greed and corruption in our leaders. Many humans strive to be on top, others settle for a limited comfortable life. Kindness as a way of living, has many social benefits, but you may live in near poverty and may have to settle for things of less value.

Your needs are determined by parental training, teachers, peers, and accidental circumstances. A father may encourage a young boy to fight. “Stand up for your values” or “Hit him back.” A child might join a gang for protection and end up harming others. A child may be bullied in early life and take some type of revenge in later life. And, some children are trained to be peaceful and enjoy education and constructive activities.

Evolution leads men to compete for women that would be best for reproduction and child rearing. It takes ability and strength for good parenthood. The drive of men for the companionship of women can be very powerful. In our society there is a great emphasis on attractiveness and I imagine that in some cases, efforts to “win” a good partner could be exaggerated and lead to corruption and anti-social behavior.

Most advanced male animals fight for the right to mate. This is very clear in horses, gorillas, bighorn sheep, lions, elk, baboons, etc. The competition can be extreme and end in a death, or much milder and consist mostly of threats. The type of competition usually depends on the species.

In many human communities, there is peaceful competition or very little aggression. In some human groups, physical fighting is typical. A few humans have been known to kill for power or the right to pursue a particular women.

Should humans give up fighting sports like boxing and MMA (mixed martial arts)? Regarding the latter, I cannot see a “sport” in punching someone in the face while he (or she) is lying on the ground. I think most citizens would vote against this, but leaders may acquiesce because there is a lot of money in it, and strong proponents. A substantial part of the male population enjoys the fights and can exert a powerful political force.

In Thailand, children as young as five become kickboxers and later (age 6 or 7) viciously fight in the ring, watched by large audiences. An important part of these fights is betting. Most children say they enjoy it and like to help the family with earned money. When the parents of these children are interviewed, they say it is not dangerous, but some children do get brain damage. I have to say, without hesitation, this is just WRONG.

Most sports demand a competitive spirit. I admit that I enjoy watching many sports, even boxing (briefly) on rare occasions. I played a number of sports and at times made a great effort to win. If you cannot demonstrate your skill, you may not be invited to play. We are all controlled by many social factors. In my later life, when unable to play sports, I concentrated more on kindness. But some politicians can continue their desire for dominance in old age.

So we have a dilemma in balancing our love of competition and the negative desperate actions that may be created. In a democracy, competitive politicians emerge that are clever enough to get votes, but may be painfully unskilled at governing. Many citizens may not recognize the promises made by these politicians as unrealistic and almost impossible to implement. Previous behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. We must try to imagine how a candidate will govern, if elected. Studying history and developing methods for determining truth are important.

 

124. The Man Who Would be King

19 Oct

The presidency of Trump has reminded me of a great movie: John Huston’sThe Man Who Would be King.” This 1975 movie starred Sean Connery and Michael Caine. From memory, the stars played the part of two former British soldiers that wandered into primitive Kafiristan around the year 1890 (I estimate). Their plan was to use their guns and knowledge to take over a small primitive country and become “kings.” After many adventures they were able to accomplish their goal. They were considered more than kings: the people worshiped them as gods. Their reign ends when one is wounded and the people see that he bleeds just like the villagers – not a god.

It seems that Trump has fallen into a similar role, and his loyal followers do worship him. They accept everything he says as the truth, no matter how absurd. He changes the details of historical events to support him and his ideas. He re-writes history. Several years ago, I wrote in a blog that this re-writing of history was his most dangerous trait. His revised version of history supports his actions so that he always appears right and people are happy to vote for him.

The big question facing our country is: how can we prove to Trump’s supporters that he is only a skillful con-man? Of course we could get lucky in a few weeks if the House turns Blue with majority Dems. This would slow down harmful legislation and radical conservative appointments. We would be able to convince our long-term allies that we are still with them. I have listed the dangers of Trump in previous blogs.

By the way, I highly recommend this movie to those that have not already seen it. It is a great adventure, with outstanding actors. It contains humor and is also thought-provoking. It also provides an appreciation of the times, places, and the societies.