29 December 2015

In the Name of Understanding

When you think to yourself, which name, if any, do you give yourself? 

Is your identity mostly derived from your personal, preferred name, or from the activities that form your life, or from the archives that have been gathering your life history for posterity?

Your name(s) may sometimes cause misunderstandings.  I know mine do!

There are many reasons why people search for understanding of one type or another. What does it mean to understand, in your view?

Usually, as far as I am concerned, understanding is about solving a puzzle or a problem, especially an emotional or physical one.  I especially search for understanding when things have gone wrong in life somewhere along the way.

Language is often about labels, symbols and mental imagery.  It is also about efforts to muddle through in the midst of misunderstandings.  Yet global understanding requires that we develop communication skills that show an awareness of the wider world's use of words, symbols and intentions.

17 December 2015

In the Name of the Family

The family is one of the most political of social institutions.  Whether it is rivalry between siblings, or arguments over money or acceptable standards of behaviour, the complexities of human relationships can be very challenging.

There can even be disagreements over what to eat, who to spend time with, and what to believe. There are many challenges to be faced when living within family households, and with family expectations more widely.

There are also plenty of conflicting attitudes to be faced when members of households interact with the wider world.

Here are some links about families and society:

Sociology and your family

Family diversity

The idiom of black sheep in the family

Dark clouds - the abuse of power within families, and in other relationships

Violence in family life

It is rare for a family to be entirely free of politics.   How do you respond to incidents of abuse that have occurred in the past in your family, particularly when exploring and reflecting upon your family history?

15 December 2015

In the Name of Spite

There are people who go through life carrying spite with them.  Why is that?

What does spite mean, apart from being mean?

Why has the British navy had so many ships named Spiteful?

Why did the British airforce call the proposed replacement of the Spitfire the Spiteful?

Are you ever spiteful?

There are people who are spiteful even if they are unlikely to benefit from that spite.  There are also people who act in an ambivalently generous yet hurtful manner.  There are people who offer hospitality who later impose themselves upon former guests inappropriately.  There are also former guests who subsequently impose themselves on their former hosts in an manipulative, exploitative way.

In economic situations, there are many ways in which spite is expressed.  There are people willing to make the lives of others miserable in order to derive a spiteful pleasure from the consequences.  They deliberately spoil or block views of beautiful scenery.  They deliberately make things ugly to annoy people.  They spitefully put up fences and buildings in a deliberate effort to make other people unhappy.  They spitefully intimidate others through threats of legal action, or even conduct malicious prosecutions.  They spitefully create more noise than is necessary when pursuing an activity.

There are spiteful people whose main sentiment is resentment.  This is often expressed as an appeal to spite.  It is communicated through the crab mentality and malicious joy.  Spiteful people act out feelings of hostility in socially harmful ways, and even personally harmful ways.

Spite can also be expressed in relation to jealousy, envy, revenge, self-harming activities, self-destructive anger and criminality.  Spiteful people may also begrudge successful people in other ways, especially if successful people are perceived as snobbish or arrogant.

Snobbery itself can be viewed as a form of spite.  Conspicuous consumption is often a maliciously way to display material success.  It is aimed at encouraging envy.  Advertisements are therefore spiteful when they encourage the purchase of status symbols.

29 November 2015

Dangerous Affinities

We are much more likely to trust other people if we believe we have something in common with them.  We are also more likely to trust people in positions of authority if we believe they share our beliefs and values.

Although it is nice to be able to trust people, there are many dangers to consider.  Trust can often be exploited by malicious persons.  Are you aware of affinity fraud at all?

In the Name of Fame

Fame is a fickle boss.

Do you crave attention?  Do you want to be famous?

Are you highly extroverted?   Extroversion might sometimes be a sign of an empty or cluttered or confused mind. What do you think? 

Is there a link between a desire for fame and a tendency towards extroversion?  Do you stand out from the competition?  Are you a blue rose? 

It may even be the case that relative introverts are more likely to be artistically talented than ambitious extroverts and therefore more likely to become famous!

09 November 2015

In the Name of Familiarity

Would a place still be familiar to you if all the people you had ever known there suddenly left, or disappeared, and were replaced by unfriendly strangers?

Perhaps you have always lived in a place of many unfriendly strangers!

Some strangers can be very pleasant and friendly, even - or especially - after we know them better.

And some people we know well as friends may often prefer to keep themselves to themselves, enjoying their own company for much of the time, rather than being deliberately unfriendly.

What do you believe to be the connection between identity and familiarity?

31 October 2015

In the Name of Integrity

Perhaps one of the greatest problems the world needs to address this century is political corruption. There can be no true peace unless we all have the right to our own identity and integrity, without corrupt political interference.

A Wikipedia article about political corruption

26 October 2015

In the Name of Sentimentality

I do not like being called a consumer, or even a customer, especially as I don't think of myself as materialistic at all.  Even so, it would probably be helpful if I could store various sorts of things I own somewhere else.  My home is often also my workplace, and the clutter often comes in useful when I am doing historical research - everything I have holds memories.  My home is therefore an archive.

If I planned to renovate, or needed to move somewhere else, my life would be complete chaos! 

Do you have shelves and cupboards brimming with clutter, a shed or two full of all sorts of stuff, and perhaps even a few boxes stacked away somewhere of sentimental treasures?

Do you identify yourself with what you have rather than what you are or who you appear to be to yourself?  

If you lost all of your possessions tomorrow, what would it do to your sense of self?

Have you ever lost your luggage while on holiday?  

Have you ever been homeless?

I do not really consider myself to be sentimental at all, but I value physical reminders of the past - mainly because I have such a poor memory inside my head and worry that I may lose my identity without a few items to remind me!  I value heritage and history and the factual aspects of reminders from the past.  They are my main connection with my earlier, younger self, especially as I am living on the other side of the world from my earlier identity and relationships.

30 September 2015

In the Name of Success

People can feel sorry for themselves when their own path to success is a struggle, or is fleeting. How many individuals are truly sure about who they are, and understand, appreciate and develop the talents they possess?

How many people have had early success only to struggle to maintain it? This is particularly so in the fickle worlds of fame, of sport, of entertainment, and even in business.

People who become ill or receive injuries which affect their earning capacity and independence are frequently regarded as being of less value, socially and economically, than others, especially in the mass media.  Advertisers frequently look for "successful" role models to endorse products and services, with success often defined in a shallow, materialistic way.

30 April 2015

In the Name of Nationality

The social scientific study of identity, ethnic groups, patriotism and nationalism are perceived in many different ways.  These topics have many different meanings.  There are also many problems associated with those meanings.

Wikipedia introduction to citizenship

Wikipedia introduction to sovereignty

Wikipedia introduction to the philosophy of power

Wikipedia introduction to the concept of nation

Ideas about nationality, citizenship and sovereignty are likely be explored quite often here in the months ahead.  Do you often perceive your identity in terms of your citizenship? 

01 March 2015

In the Name of Enjoyment

You may know that one of my current favourite forms of enjoyment is exploring my own family history. I write a blog called Ancestors Within to assist people who are exploring their own heritage, especially if that heritage has some interconnection with my own.

Through my genealogical research, even the female surnames in my family have been quite easy to trace backwards using census and marriage records.   I would find it much harder to trace old friends from my youth.  I lost touch with most of them even before we found marriage partners.

I really have no desire at all to catch up with people merely because they once knew at least something about me.  From past experience I know that I rarely enjoy the company of people who think they know me well from past acquaintance as most fail to understand me as I am now. Even when I was younger, I knew I had very little in common with most of the people who considered me to be their friend.

The basis of my sense of identity is whatever I happen to enjoy doing and being at any given moment.  And my interests often change very rapidly!

01 February 2015

Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft is a significant problem today.  Have you ever had your identity stolen?  As far as I know, no-one has ever tried to steal my identity. I keep a low profile online and in the media more generally.

It worries me that many people reveal huge amounts of information about themselves to strangers, both in person and through online social media, websites, questionnaires, and when paying for goods and services.

How safe are your finances? How safe is your passport? How safe is your identity? How safe are you?

Here are three of my previous blog posts to reflect upon:

Australian passports are precious

Fronts and face values


01 January 2015

In the Name of Popularity

Do you find it easier to like people when you think of them as popular or do you prefer to think of people as being either friendly or unfriendly?

Are people more popular with you when you can identify with some aspect about them? 

It is often the case that popularity is associated with the aspirations of observers.  It is a cause of emulation and adulation.

Are people popular with you because you feel a sense of familiarity with their name?

If you do not consider yourself to be particularly popular at present, do you want to be more popular?

Is popularity about being liked, and even loved?

Are popular people never lonely, in your view?