Sunday, July 28, 2013

Common Sense Thinking

Sunday Morning Sermon July 28 2013

Smart people do not always do things in a smart way. There are moments when smart people do confusingly irrational things like gambling away all their money on the stock market, or forgetting to take adequate clothing for an upcountry hike at Horton Plains in the middle of January. 

Whatever our background, training, Intellectual Quotient, or experience, common sense can be learned and applied in everyday situations. And while it may seem provocative suggesting that smart people don't use common sense, this deliberate association is merely to highlight that everyone has lapses in common sense. The more we're trained to think one way (by our workplace, family, culture, etc.), the greater the chance that sometimes we allow sloppy or auto-pilot thinking to take the place of common sense. Common sense isn't a one-stop-destination; it's a way of thinking that needs constant nourishing and application.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, common sense is about exercising "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or available facts". This definition suggests that common sense depends on not over-complicating the situation (simple), applying experience and general knowledge to the situation (sound and prudent judgment), and implicit in this is self-trust that our considered experience is valid for future situations. 

Common sense can also serve the purpose of removing us from being hidebound to rules, theories, ideas, and guidelines that would hamper or stifle the best decision in a particular situation. In other words, just because something says so, or just because it has always been done that way, is not a reason to abandon common sense about present needs and changed circumstances.

We are all human; we are fallible. And our brains work in certain ways as a means of providing shortcuts to ensure survival in a world where being chased by predators could end our life. In a modern world where caves and saber toothed tigers are no longer a constant companion, some of that reactive, split second judging can land us in hot water as we react instead of reflecting, assume instead of teasing apart the realities, and follow habit instead of challenging its continued utility. Some of the things our amazing mind is capable of doing to override common sense include:

 - Maintaining our own sense of reality out of proportion with identifiable reality. "Not seeing the big picture"
 - Reflex or associative thinking. "Reactive thinking that is totally based on brain washing through time"
 - Invoking absolute certainty. "Getting rid of doubt"
 - Bullheadedness. "Unwillingness to be wrong"

Common Sense Thinking isn't an invitation to insanity. Its only an opportunity to consider that our sense of reality isn't really real. What we see is what we've programmed our brains to perceive. Once we start sliding down the slippery slope of self-confirmation that reality is only ever what we see it as, the we open up to the possibilities of bigotry, selfishness, intolerance, and prejudice because we constantly seek to make everyone and everything else conform to our standard of reality, and our standard of "what's right". By divorcing ourselves from this one-sided reality, and learning as much as we can about how other people perceive the world and our place in it, we begin to make room for common sense to grow because our sense is built on "common" experiences, not just our personal ones.

There are several things in life that every human being should know how to do and not leave to another person, things that go to the heart of personal survival, self-knowledge, and long-term health and safety. In this way, we can learn common sense through practical knowledge and application, informing us accurately when times are harder or when we must react quickly.

Some of them are, cooking, putting food on the table, growing food, nutrition information, respecting people and the environment, budgeting expenses, understanding personal limitations, analyzing situations logically, fixing utility problems that spring up at home, planning, multitasking, connecting with people, safety first, and being resourceful.

At the end of the end of the day what matters most to any individual is to trust oneself to take the right common sense steps in life.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

White Supremacy

Sunday Morning Sermon July 21 2013

White supremacy is the belief of, and/or promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds and that, therefore, whites should politically dominate non-whites. The term is also used to describe a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical, and industrial dominance of whites. Different forms of white supremacy have different conceptions of who is considered white, and different white supremacist identify various groups as their primary enemy.
White supremacist groups can be found in most countries and regions with a significant white population. The militant approach taken by white supremacist groups has caused them to be watched closely by law enforcement officials. Some have even been labelled as terroridt groups. Some European countries prohibit white supremacist political activity or the expression of white supremacist ideas.
The recent youtube video of Paul Weston claiming that he IS a racist is a gross example of this evil spreading across Europe. The many racial posts to the thread on the youtube link also show the gravity of these feelings that are emerging among some white people.
This evil was predominant in the USA before the American Civil War and even for decades after the reconstruction era thereafter. Europe also had its own share of this phneomenon during WWI and WWII.
Colonialism extended the power and authority of white supremacy across South America, Africa, and Asia.
​ The aftermath of this is pretty apparent across South America, Africa, Asia and the Far East.

Ironically the old Colonial rulers, back in their homeland, are now crying foul that migrants from the Colonies have settled down on their land and are trying to take over. Is it payback time, I wonder?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Writing Politics

Sunday Morning Sermon July 13 2013

Politics always raises very strong opinions, views and even stronger emotions, which makes political articles even more complex. Successful Expert Authors who specialize in this intricate niche know the best practices to writing quality political articles.

With the coming and going of each election season, there is a massive increase of political articles, stories, debates, and publicity across all media. These contributions to the political arena are often made by less experienced Expert Authors whose strong wills and resolute emotions are often reactive to current events.

Media bias also contributes immensely as to what is published where. Fox, for example is well known for its right wing and extreme stand. AlJazeera may be more biased towards Arabs and Islam. The Ceylon Daily News will always mollycoddle the MR  regime, for obvious reasons.

Some choose to ignore specific events although they may be high profile or significant just because it doesn't go with their grain.

Freedom of the press is nice to have in any democracy. Yet, it still comes under the hammer of what is allowed to be shown and what needs to be kept under wraps. Governments, usually hide behind the curtain of national security in order to stifle a particular news item that may expose their underwear. Wikileaks and the ongoing Edward Snowden chase are super examples of how democracy has failed to allow free speech.

While on the one hand there is a massive clamor to hurt the sensitivities of religious people by making fun of their God's, prophets, and Faith, based on freedom of expression, the need to shut down what some folks do not want others to see also prevails across the board, from Tokyo to Timbuktoo, whichever direction one chooses to travel.

No one can run away from the fact that we live in a world sandwiched between double standards in its various hues, colors, and concoctions.

Take the recent reports of the activities of the BBS, Duminda Silva, and DIG Vaas, back home, from each side of the aisle. The compatriots of the perpetrators of these crimes want to stifle the reality of the events while those on the other side want to bring the roof down. Even the reporting of Channel 4 UK during the LTTE campaign in Sri Lanka was totally biased to a great degree. BBC use their own style of diplomacy to run with the hare and chase with the hounds.

At the end of the day we only get what we are supposed to see and know. It is only when dynamic and independent individuals like Snowden, Manning or Assange, come forth with the raw evidence of whats happening behind the scene that all hell breaks loose.

Will we ever be 
​able ​
to live
 without a lie
 on this planet?


Monday, July 8, 2013

Third Culture Kids

Sunday Morning Sermon - July 7 2013

A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK's life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.

My own two girls are typical third culture kids. The grand kids have spent most of their lifetime in Saudi Arabia so they could be considered less third culture except for the little Lankan culture that Shirani and I provide for them.

Even Shirani and I have spent more than  half our lives outside Sri Lanka and it is possible we could be classified as third culture adults, within the same concept.

Studies have shown that there are different characteristics that impact the typical Third Culture Kid:
  • 40% earn an advanced degree (as compared to 5% of the non-TCK population.)
  • 45% of TCKs attended 3 universities before earning a degree.
  • 44% earned undergraduate degree after the age of 22.
  • Educators, medicine, professional positions, and self employment are the most common professions for TCKs.
  • TCKs are unlikely to work for big business, government, or follow their parents' career choices. "One won't find many TCKs in large corporations. Nor are there many in government ... they usually do not followed in parental footsteps".
  • 90% report feeling as if they understand other cultures/peoples better than average.
  • 80% believe they can get along with anybody.
  • A study whose subjects were all "career military brats"—those who had a parent in the military from birth through high school—shows that brats are linguistically adept.
  • Teenage TCKs are more mature than non-TCKs, but ironically take longer to "grow up" in their 20s.
  • More welcoming of others into their community.
  • Lack a sense of "where home is" but often nationalistic.
  • Depression and suicide are more prominent among TCK's.
  • Some studies show a desire to "settle down" others a "restlessness to move"

Dr. Useem coined the term third culture kid after her second year-long visit to India with her fellow sociologist/anthropologist husband and three children. In 1993 she wrote:
In summarizing that which we had observed in our cross-cultural encounters, we began to use the term "third culture" as a generic term to cover the styles of life created, shared, and learned by persons who are in the process of relating their societies, or sections thereof, to each other. The term "Third Culture Kids" or TCKs was coined to refer to the children who accompany their parents into another society.
She describes the third culture as a shared, or interstitial way of life lived by those who had gone from one culture (the home or first culture) to a host culture (the second) and had developed their own shared way of life with others also living outside their passport cultures.
It is believed that parents of TCKs are often highly educated, successful in their careers, and are not likely to divorce. When a group (whether it is the military, a business, government, church, etc.) decides to send somebody to a foreign country, it is making a significant investment. The group wants to send people who will represent it the best, and provide the most value for the investment. TCKs will thus have a higher probability of coming from a family where at least one parent earned a college degree and often an advanced degree. "Almost all" TCK families are deployed to foreign countries as a result of the father's profession, and very few families live in another country primarily due to the mother's occupation.

TCKs also tend to come from families that are closer than non-TCK families. They will also have a smaller likelihood of having divorced parents (divorced parents are unlikely to allow their former spouse to take their child to another country). "Because the nuclear family is the only consistent social unit through all moves, family members are psychologically thrown back on one another in a way that is not typical in geographically stable families." 

Many TCKs take years to readjust to their passport countries. They often suffer a reverse culture shock upon their return, and are often perpetually homesick for their adopted country. Many third culture kids face an identity crisis: they don't know where they come from. It would be typical for a TCK to say that he is a citizen of a country, but with nothing beyond his passport to define that identification for him. Such children usually find it difficult to answer the question, "Where are you from?". Compared to their peers who have lived their entire lives in a single culture, TCKs have a globalized culture. TCKs typically have a global perspective and are flexible both socially and intellectually, as well as able to comfortably engage with those who think and act differently than they do. It is hard for TCKs to present themselves as a single cultured person, which makes it hard for others who have not had similar experiences to accept them for who they are. They know bits and pieces of at least two cultures, yet most of them have not fully experienced any one culture making them feel incomplete or left out by other children who have not lived overseas. They often build social networks among themselves and prefer to socialize with other TCKs.
Studies have found that, although TCKs learn to build relationships to all of the cultures they've experienced, they don't quite have full ownership in any. While TCKs can assimilate elements of each culture into their own life experiences, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background. [19] The unique experiences of TCKs among different cultures and various relationships at the formative stage of their development makes their view of the world different from others.
They tend to get along with people of any culture, and develop a chameleon-like ability to become part of other cultures. Adapting to new situations quickly and with confidence is no problem for third-culture kids. Excellent communication and diplomatic skills are what many third-culture kids get out of their experience abroad. These skills help third-culture kids thrive later on, during their academic studies as well as their career. [1] Some TCKs may also isolate themselves within their own sub-culture, sometimes excluding native children attending their schools, or defining themselves in relation to some "other" ethnic or religious group.

Note: Third culture kid (TCK3CK) is a term coined in the early 1950s by American sociologist and anthropologist Ruth Hill Useem "to refer to the children who accompany their parents into another society". Other terms, such as trans-culture kid or Global nomad are also used by some.