essay by Bea Graansma

BG 148 – Populist politicians

The political debate was once a – combative – exchange of points of view and arguments of representatives of the people in order to reach agreement in the interests of the people. Nowadays it seems to be a stage for megalomaniac narcissists to present themselves to their followers.

Populists are people who manipulate you (frighten and reassure you) for their own sake and for their own popularity, through lies. Fortunately, democracy doesn’t end when populist leaders tell untruths. Most of the politicians and journalists just keep doing what they are supposed to do and keep refuting. This also gives the people the opportunity to pierce through shameless inaccuracies.

It is not out of malice that people (especially online) get trapped in a narrow-minded group bubble of conspiracy theorists and propagators, but rather out of stupidity, confusion and fear, as we as humans are confronted with accelerating changes in our society, and with large and sometimes frightening global challenges, such as the destruction of nature, climate change, globalization and far-reaching automation. Denial of reality (burying your head in the sand) and longing for a romanticized past then seem attractive options. And modern technology is driving the growth and maintenance of such virtual bubbles.

If we want to make more progress in politics and tackle the problems that come our way efficiently and decisively, we will have to burst those bubbles. We will also have to reduce the number of political parties to a workable minimum and open up again to the views and arguments of the other. The other who thinks and lives differently than we do, but is therefore not our ‘adversary’. The political debate must again focus on reaching agreement in the interest of the people. Not the self-interest of the political leaders, but tackling the most urgent problems must once again be top of the agenda.

Use your common sense and don’t believe nonsense, however appealing and comforting it may sound at times, such as: ‘Global warming is a fabrication of our adversaries’. Instead, think about what you can do as a step in the right direction. Because if all people take such steps, we can achieve a lot together. Much more than politicians talking out of their necks.

BG 136 – Music and Time

One of the reasons we humans love music so much is that it gives us a grip on time. The time that often makes us feel powerless, by flying by relentlessly. We grasp it with music, connect it to tones, to rhythms and to melodies. We give structure to time and arrange it so that we can enjoy it. The basis of music is usually a fundamental rhythm, much like our heartbeat, or, on a grander scale, the coming and going of hours, days and seasons. That rhythm, that variable beat, dictates the tempo and keeps track of time for us. Precisely because life is so fleeting, we naturally like patterns and repetitions, recognizable rhythms and arrangements and unexpected deviations from them. Music influences our heartbeat and triggers emotions in us. We can influence our perception of time with the help of music and shape it to our own pleasure. And, unlike clock time, which is already behind us before we are aware of it, we can experience music over and over again whenever we want.

BG 126 – Love for language

Many people don’t like to read anymore.
Books, long texts, never mind!
Give us passive entertainment
and short summaries.
TLDNR (too long, did not read).

We prefer to be on social media,
we prefer gaming, we watch movies,
we stream series.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But…
we don’t (like to) read anymore.
As a result, we lose language skills
and our pleasure in reading.

We are falling behind …

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BG 123 – Birthday

Today I turned 58 years old.
You can’t call that middle age with the best will in the world, unless you believe I’m going to live to be 116 years old.
I am already well over halfway and already quite worn out, but I have learned many wise lessons.
That we ourselves determine the meaning of our lives, for example.
That we should not let other people determine who we are and what we should do with our lives.
That life consists of time, that it is finite, that it seems to go faster and faster.
That we ourselves also consist of time and are therefore finite. That this finiteness makes life worth living, makes it precious.
And that we can give meaning to that fleeting time by …

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BG 121 – The power of the (old) white men

The fact that straight white men – including those who should have retired long ago – are mostly in charge of our society is not (as they themselves and also many women believe) due to their superior brains and their superior strength and ingenuity. On the contrary.
The fact that white men think they are automatically entitled to all top positions in politics, in companies, in clubs, and at home, is because they are, well, pretty stupid.
And they are thick-skinned.

There are many things that (old) white men don’t realize.
For example, that women are generally better at leadership and at dividing their attention over several important matters at the same time.
That women are better at detecting and analyzing problems, at finding creative solutions, at choosing the most effective and efficient solution, and at planning its implementation.
That women are less inclined to aggression, violence and to pushing through their own opinion, and that they listen better. That they not only listen to what is being said, but also to what is not spoken aloud.
That women attach less importance to…

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