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Category Archives: Ethics and Philosophy

To make a promise and to keep it…PRICELESS!

No, I’m not going to write about that cool ad from the UEFA Champions League. Now when I mentioned it I’m sure people would pay more attention to what I’m blogging about because I just referred to football. To me this is one of the greatest ads ever for it does more than just promoting a product: it reminds on that word of honour called promise.   I like writing about words, their use and their meanings and I think now it’s the best time to ask you: Do you keep your promises? Or if you can’t stick to them do you apologize or you just leave the other person/people hanging? What does a promise mean to you?

To me a promise means a lot. It means I put my trust in somebody, it means I rely on this person, it means I believe that person or in other words this person means a lot to me. So keeping a promise show you care, shows respect, shows your manners and attitude. Or at least that’s how I see it. When I say I promise I do mean it and I never promise something I can’t make. Or if I can’t make it I certainly do everything possible to inform the other person and I do apologize and try to make up to them. Many people, for example, don’t bother to call if they are late or they simply forget about it. OK, life happens: once you forget, twice you forget….n times you forget and it turns into a habit. Or it seems you just don’t really care, doesn’t it? Like we say in my country: If you want to do something you always find a way; if you don’t want to do something – you always find an excuse. Probably I would sound a bit too old-fashioned or sensitive but what’s wrong with that? Since when it’s become old-fashioned to respect people?

It’s these “little” things that make the big ones. Or like we say in my country: “A word given – a stone thrown” – you can’t take it back and you should stick to your word. That’s what I try to do. If you never do it then why do you promise at all? The word “promise” simply loses its meaning, it just becomes chit-chat and eventually nobody really believes when you say “I promise”. I’ve noticed, especially around New Year’s Eve, that many people say they will now change their ways and lives for better because it’s a New Year – it’s a new beginning. Well, my views are quite different than that. The New Year is just another year – from January to  December. Every year many people say they will have a fresh new start and then nothing really changes – it’s just another New Year’s Eve with celebrations, friends, family, food, music etc. and then it comes another one…and another one. Do you really need a New Year to change your life? If you want to become a better man – do it. If you want to be a braver kid – then be. If you miss somebody – call. If you want something – go get it. Why do you need another New Year for that? You live now and tomorrow starts today! Why do you need to do something special for your sweetheart only on St. Valentine’s day? Or their birthday? Do you need a reason to say “I love you” or “I miss you” or “I care about you”? I don’t! I know in many societies the New Year’s Eve is related to customs and hopes for a better, healthier and happier year but come on, is that the only time we are supposed to hope for that? Aren’t we supposed to also do something to achieve it?

I’m not trying to change anybody’s habits or ways. I realized it is impossible long time ago. What I can change is my own ways. If more people do that then it’d make a difference. What about you?

M

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Ethics and Philosophy

 

The Golden Means: possible solutions to the unrest in Nigeria

Values are vague; they are always too broad for the specific. The only thing left for us is to trust our instincts – Jean Paul Sartre

It’s always good to hear both sides of the story. That’s what I’ve been doing while observing the current unrest in Nigeria and I wasn’t surprised to notice how many people acclaimed absolutist theories about the issue. Whenever I hear or read such theories I somehow can’t help it to try to explain the contradictory basis of it, especially in this specific situation and the harmful consequences of it – just like in the case of subsidy removal in Nigeria.

I do not deny the existence of the moral absolute in this argument – that subsidy should be removed or that the Nigerian society is right to protest.  After all each and every society is based on virtues, norms and values and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I see here a clash between different ethics . I would compare the government to the lion described by Nietzsche in Thus said Zaratustra – concerned with power and the result, irrespective of the situation or what it takes to get there. The protesters, on the other hand, have adopted a more utilitarian approach because subsidy would be beneficial for the majority of people after all. Well, both sides seem to be right… The subsidy removal is a logical step but what’d be the outcome of it? Strikes, more poverty and unplanned inflation. People’s protests  seem justified too. So where’s the solution? I believe that in this situation it is wrong to think about the ends – the benefits that the removal of subsidy could bring, forgetting about the means – impoverishing a nation that earns $2 a day… It’s common sense that each side is now looking for the best solution and if I need to carry on illustrating my thoughts with philosophical aphorisms  the Aristotelian’s Golden Mean would best show the right path for solving the problem:  virtue lies at the mean (middle) between two extremes of behaviour. How can we find the means here? I think both sides should first realise that  “There are many different eyes. The sphinx too has eyes and consequently there are many different ‘truths’, and consequently there is no truth.” , Nietzsche. In other words, can each side accept the other’s point of view and think of a solution? I doubt it. Why? The story about the Three Metamorphoses tells it all. It takes time until one transforms into something else, especially something better. Sometimes the camel stays  camel and the lion stays lion forever.  Can the government turn into Nietzsche’s Übermensch (overman) who has power and uses it to create good and happiness? As I said I don’t deny the benefits the removal of subsidy would bring; I do deny the way it was imposed though.  I think the timing is wrong – maybe the subsidy should be removed gradually or it could be replaced with a money-transfer program for poor people, as somebody suggested in a blog in the Economist. I think corruption should be rooted out and if the government really wants to change something why don’t they fix the refineries so there won’t be any need to oil-subsidy?  And no protest and millions of dollars lost.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Africa, Ethics and Philosophy