Categories
Stories

Sixty years of the rule of the one ruler

While I am writing this, the sound of boat whistles and bells comes from the Thames, just a mere ten-minutes walk from where I live. In the street, hundreds of people are walking back under the rain after seeing the Queen cruising the river on a boat. It’s the celebration of the sixty years of the rule of the one ruler, also known as British Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Let me share with you a little story to “celebrate” such an “important” event…

Once upon a time, in a small village lived a little girl. When she grew up she wanted to do great things by helping everybody to have a better life. Her father always told her that she was capable of doing great things if so she wanted, and so she wanted to help all people. One day in school, the teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said “I want to do great things and help people.” The teacher looked at her with a smile and said, “and how are you going to do that?”. “I will be the Queen”, she replied. The teacher gasped in surprise and said, “…but there is already a Queen, you cannot be the Queen, darling.” “Why not?”, asked defiantly the little girl. “Because it will be her son who will be King after her.” The little girl frowned to what her teacher was saying, since she was born she had been told that the Queen was great, that she was making her country be together, that thanks to her people were better off, and now she couldn’t do the same when she grew up. Puzzled she asked to the teacher, “does this mean that your son will be our teacher after you?”

Categories
Life

Tapped & Packed

Working by my own, I am often in search of good places where I can spend and afternoon or morning working, normally a café. London has lots of them, but it is not easy to find one where I feel comfortable for more than an hour, working, being productive. This post initiates a series in which I highlight great places to work anywhere in the world.

The first is Tapped & Packed (26, Rathbone Place, London). How I got here? I googled “Best cafés to work in London”, first page was justwhatson.com list, this café in number 7 on the list. I liked the description and the pictures on its website. I read a couple of reviews online. The coffee is good (not the best I tried in London though), the wifi is fast and works flawlessly and the tables are great to work. Lots of space, in wood. The interior is simple, “rustique”, not many distractions, good to work. Of all the places I’ve been working in London, this is the one where I feel better in. That also may be because at this time (around 15:30-16:00 on Thursday) and sunny, warm weather there are not many people, so it feels spacious. Also, at the table where I am sitting there are two useful plugs, though I haven’t seen any more plugs in other tables (I know where to preferably sit when I come here!). The café & tea menu is simple and straightforward. They have wonderfully-looking cakes on the counter. Difficult to resist, I ordered an amazing chocolate cake, which was (yes, “was”) really delicious. There is just one “tiny” problem, there is no toilet. One has to go to the pub next door.

Categories
Network World

Peeling the onion of authority

Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

Authority is build up over many layers of legitimacy laid down through history. The nature of these layers varies. Take for examples monarchies. Which are their layers? Clearly not formally democratic. Some of them are based on tradition. Others on historic coercion (read violence) exercised by the ancestors of the current kings and queens – basically winning battles against their adversaries for power. And others are more subtle. For example, a monarchy can construct layers based on “material democracy”, that is, not the one coming from formal democratic procedures e.g. voting, but by the consent of the people. These layers can come from very diverse sources which connect the monarch with “the people”. One of them may easily be the participation of the monarch in popular events. Don’t be fooled. This is not because he or she enjoys them, it is a rite to connect with you, to get your material consent, to be “near the people”, yet the monarchy remains an unelected institution which head position is inherited by blood.

If we want to build up a more democratic society, I believe we have to learn, together, to peel the onion of authority, otherwise we’ll be kept being fooled. Beneath the “popular king (or queen)” who seems so near “his (her)” people, there is an undemocratic legacy based on nastier things: violence, hierarchy and traditions that leave us out of actual power of decision and action. Peeling the onion of authority is uncovering these crude realities that support illegitimate authorities. And monarchy, all monarchies, is one of these illegitimate authorities.

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. – Albert Einstein

Categories
Life

Under the protection of nature, all dreams are sweet

St James’s Park, London, May 1, 2012

Categories
Life Yoga

Meditation

“To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem.
To meditate means to observe.
Your smile proves it.
It proves that you are being gentle with yourself,
that the sun of awareness is shining in you,
that you have control of your situation.
You are yourself,
and you have acquired some peace.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Categories
me Poems

Land kisses Ocean…Ocean kisses Land

Categories
Creative Life Emotional Revolution

The Path and the Forest


Two brave knights enter the forest on their horses. The marked path is their guide. They want to cross the forest to get to the palace of the king on the other side where great riches are awaiting them. At the start of the journey both of them have the same goal, during the crossing everything changes for one of them. He begins to listen to the creatures of the forest, and lured by them he adventures himself into it to never return. The other knight, who follows the path, oblivious to the wild beauty laments the insanity that captured his fellow man. His life safe and protected by the path, he knows what’s behind and what’s ahead. His life known to him. The other has entered a world of magic and wonderment, his life has become an unexpected adventure full of suffering beauty…

Two archetypes of our world can be found in these two stories. One focused, practical, afraid of risk, surprises and pain at the cost of a life of routine and lack of real wonderment for a known goal that probably will never be attained. The other a wandering existence, full of adventures and encounters, magic and beauty, sensations and suffering for an unknown future, in which the moment becomes king and queen. In these two archetypes we all live, as the yin and yang of our existence. Some will hold with all their strength and will the path to secure their lives, others will let themselves be seduced by a world of imagination to feel the meaning of life. Between the two, we wander.

Categories
Emotional Revolution

Listening


To Listen: give one’s attention to a sound… (Oxford Dictionary)

Coming back home from dinner with some friends, I started to reflect whether I have been listening. Slowly, painfully, gradually I have become aware in the last years about my deficiency in listening to others. Part of this awareness is this self-reflection on my actions: did I put enough attention on what my friend was saying? Did I interrupt too many times? Did I talk too long? – so this is what I was doing on my ride back home…then I thought that perhaps the act of listening goes beyond sound, beyond words. Listening to someone else’s gestures, facial expressions, their actions, their pauses, their absences, the empty spaces. At the end, isn’t listening about the expression of emotions? Isn’t deeper listening the ability of putting our attention on other’s emotions, their palpitations?

Many spiritual practices, including yoga, see vibration as the final nature of the universe, all is vibration. As when Siddhartha listens to the river and learns to listen to the universe in Hesse’s novel, perhaps the act of listening is the ability to “give one’s attention to this vibration”, including, but far not only, the words of my friends.

Categories
Emotional Revolution

The “yeses”, the “noses”, and the “maybes”…who we really are

So many voices in our heads. So many “yeses”, “noses”, “maybes” at the same time. Desires, whims, restrictions, principles, habits at the same time. Of all these who are we? In yoga, as in other hindu traditions there are the chakras. Overly simplifying, they are energy centres, which nature and effect is interpreted in many ways. Each of the chakras is related to different dimensions of our being – our connection with the Earth, sexuality, creativity, ego, love, imagination, divinity, etc. These we may say affect our behaviour. What we eventually do may be closely related with the state of these chakras, that is, with how the energy is channeled along them. So it is said that when our more terrenal whims for food or sex are dominating us it is because the lower chakras are unbalanced with the rest, dominating, for example, our connection with love or ethical principles. As when someone prefers to eat the last piece instead of giving it to someone else, or sex takes only place completely separated from its close connection with love or even divinity – both happening just for the direct pleasure to the ego.

Who are we then? I believe we are all and one. The chakras are all connected, thus the balance or unbalance. We are not one or all, but all and one. We’re and we’re not the person that eats the last piece of cake. For on the one hand we have eaten it, but on the other if given the chance of awareness of the consequences of eating it – for example, a person that has eaten less will feel given an unfair part of the cake – we may probably stop eating it and give it to that person.

Understanding our being as only being one of them, that is the one who eats the piece of cake, can give place to what is often felt as unfair judgement of the person – “you ARE so selfish, for you ate much more cake than others did”. Understanding our being as all of them, can give place to the impossibility of judging behaviour – “never mind he ate the last piece of cake, it is not HIS fault, he didn’t realise others didn’t eat as much.” Understanding our being as one and all at the same time allows to a non-judgement of the person and evaluation of the behaviour, and therefore to the possibility of its future correction by us – “It was a bad thing that he ate the last piece of cake, I hope that now he knows the consequence of it, others didn’t eat as much, I am sure next time he will think about it”. We are not our behaviours, or even our thoughts of it. They form part of us, but they are not us.

We are responsible of the decisions we take, deciding for the “yes” instead of the “no”, but those decisions are not us, any person judging our being for our behaviour is, I believe, making a mistake. That doesn’t mean he is stupid, he is just making a mistake that can be corrected if given the opportunity to do so.

Categories
Europa Mundo en Red

La crisis del euro: de la soberanía económica a la soberanía política

Esta es una semana clave para el futuro de Europa. El 8 y 9 de diciembre el Consejo Europeo se reunirá en Bruselas para discutir, entre otras cosas, la situación económica actual en la zona euro. En avance a esta reunión, Angela Merkel y Nicolas Sarkozy han almorzado juntos hoy lunes 5 de diciembre en París para finalizar su propuesta conjunta de reforma de la gobernanza económica de esta zona. Entre sus conclusiones figura la propuesta de reformar los tratados de la Unión Europea – sea con acuerdo de los 27 Estados miembros de la Unión Europea o de los 17 que son parte del la Unión Monetaria – para asegurar que al menos los miembros del euro comparten mecanismos de control eficaz de sus balances fiscales. Una Europa diferenciada comienza a dibujarse en el horizonte.

La crisis económica actual es una crisis de la soberanía económica de los Estados. La desregularización de los mercados financieros y el gradual traspaso de autoridad a instituciones económicas internacionales – come el Fondo Monetario Internacional o el Banco Mundial – han ido minando los instrumentos tradicionales que el Estado moderno tenía para influir en la actividad económica en el territorio bajo su soberanía. La Unión Económica y Monetaria (UEM) se creo no sólo para extender las libertades económicas base del proceso que nos ha llevado a la Unión Europea, sino también para que los Estados recuperen poder respecto a este fenómeno de degradación de su autoridad. La crisis actual pone en evidencia el sistema que se construyó para tal fin, y ya se empieza a hablar del fin del euro. Sería un error pensar que si esto ocurriera sería volver a la situación anterior, pues después de probar y fallar, la institución del Estado-Nación saldría seriamente dañada. Estamos en frente no sólo de una crisis económica, sino también una crisis política.

Desde el principio de la construcción de la UEM, algunas voces han llamado a que se acompañara de una verdadera Unión Política. Éste era en parte el fin de la Constitución Europea, un proceso que debía ayudar a la mejora del sistema de gobierno de una Unión Europea ampliada a 27 o más miembros. Sin embargo, el proceso de “constitucionalización” (o “semi-constitucionalización”, como algunos prefieren) fue rápidamente capturado por los representantes de los Estados Miembros que temían una deriva fuera de su control, lo que desemboco en un simple proceso de reforma con el Tratado de Lisboa. Según varios autores, la falta de mecanismos políticos más integradores que los actuales ha dejado la UEM con pocos instrumentos de convergencia y control que hubieran evitado muchos de los problemas actuales de la zona euro. Si esto es cierto, la reformas que Merkel y Sarkozy quieren llevar a cabo podrían tener un efecto positivo en resolver la actual crisis. Esto significaría, en una aparente paradoja, que los Estados conseguirían transferir parte de su soberanía económica y política a la Unión Europea para poder conservarlas.

Otra posible realidad es que el proceso de degradación de la soberanía económica y de la soberanía política del Estado-Nación va más allá de la crisis actual. Es un proceso irreversible que empezó hace décadas causado por la emergencia de actores económicos y políticos fuera del control de la autoridad estatal que poco a poco han ido minándola hasta independizarse. Esto es cierto en el caso de las entidades financieras, grandes corporaciones y organizaciones internacionales. Si bien estas últimas aún dependen de los Estados, con el tiempo han ido adquiriendo vida propia. Si bien las grandes corporaciones aún tienen una base territorial en un Estado, el proceso de globalización ha permitido una descentralización brutal de sus actividades y sus recursos, dejándolas fuera del control efectivo de los Estados. Y si bien las entidades financieras coexisten con una espada de Damocles en la forma de re-regularización del mercado financiero, su poder actual es tal y su influencia en la política del Estados tan grande que es difícil hoy en día saber quien regula a quien – muestra de ello es la composición de los nuevos gobiernos en Italia y Grecia.

Entre estas dos realidades, aparentemente los Estados europeos se encuentran entre un proceso a varias velocidades de profundización de la integración que (muy) teóricamente podría permitir una regulación efectiva de la UEM en la Unión Europea, y una dinámica de degradación gradual de su soberanía política y económica que dejaría la instituciones que han permitido su control de un territorio y población vulnerables a intereses particulares ¿O hay más realidades más allá de esta dicotomía? ¿Podríamos pensar en estructuras políticas democráticas más allá del Estado-Nación? ¿Existe hoy en día un proceso activo de construcción de una gobernanza en Europa en esta dirección? ¿Qué efecto tendría este proceso en el proceso de integración europea?