Home Is Really Sweet Home

Life is damn tough, especially when you go out to the market in day time. Yes, m’ talking about the hot weather outside. Home seems heaven when you come back. And, definitely home’s so! And making it a better place is always in everyone’s mind.

Though, I don’t care in this regard much, but two consecutive days out, facing the cruel sun helped me realize the importance of sweet home, and I happen to set some of ever scattered objects in my room. Though it’s seasonal, but once in a blue moon I do think that this thing should be placed here, and that there etc.

The fever didn’t end here, but made me to keep on browsing the same, found some really good designs, [will try to have one for me, if I get time] here in the gallery of Atlanta Faux Finishing. Sharing a few below:

Big Things In Your Life!

I don’t remember what I was browsing for, probably something related to time management and some related stuff, when found an interesting piece of writing at nwlink(dot)com. This is a classic and must say a logical explanation of time management in our day to day life, helpful not only in personal concerns but professional as well. Here’s the quoted text:

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He then pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table. He produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them one at a time into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?”

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing it to work down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand and started dumping the sand in the jar until it filled the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good.”
Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point.”

“The truth this illustration teaches us is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all. What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life? Your children, your loved ones, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching others, doing things that you love, your health; your mate. Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. If you sweat about the little stuff then you’ll fill your life with little things and you’ll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff.

So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the ‘big rocks’ in my life? Then, put those in your jar first.

Humanism

The exact time when the term Humanism was first adopted is still unknown. It is,however, certain that its roots are somewhere in Italy. Before going to the function of humanism i’d like to discuss the confusions and controversies related to this term.

Because of the variety of meanings, and unclear descriptions of authors and speakers it can easily become a source of confusion, so lets classify the varieties of humanism first.

1- Literary Humanism is a devotion to the humanities or literary culture.

2- Renaissance Humanism which deals with the learning and the ability of human beings to determine for themselves truth and falsehood.

3- Cultural Humanism is the rational and empirical tradition that originated largely in ancient Greece and Rome, evolved throughout

European history, and now constitutes a basic part of the Western approach to science, political theory, ethics, and law.

4- Philosphical Humanism is any outlook or way of life centered on human need and interest. Philosophical humanism is further catagorized as Christian humanism and Modern Humanism.(I’ll discuss Philosophical humanism in detail first then the other varieties of Humanism)

* Christian Humanism Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines the Christian humanism as “a philosophy advocating the self- fulfillment of man within the framework of Christian principles.” This more human-oriented faith is largely a product of the Renaissance and is a part of what made up Renaissance humanism.

* Modern Humanism, also called Naturalistic Humanism, Scientific Humanism, Ethical Humanism and Democratic Humanism is defined as “a naturalistic philosophy that rejects all supernaturalism and relies primarily upon reason and science, democracy and human compassion.” Modern Humanism is dual in origin (Religious and Secular humanism).

Secular and Religious Humanists both share the same worldview and the same basic principles. From the standpoint of philosophy alone, there is no difference between the two. It is only in the definition of religion and in the practice of the philosophy that Religious and Secular Humanists effectively disagree.

Religious Humanism serves both for personal and social needs. For personal needs it offers a basis for moral values, an inspiring set of ideals, methods for dealing with life’s harsher realities,and a rationale for living life joyously. And for social needs, Religious humanism offers a sense of belonging, an institutional setting for the moral education of children, special holidays shared with like-minded people, a unique ceremonial life, the performance of ideologically consistent rites of passage (weddings, child welcomings, coming-of-age celebrations, funerals, and so forth), an opportunity for affirmation of one’s philosophy of life, and a historical context for one’s ideas.Religious humanists do no support any criteria for individuals who can not feel comfortable with the traditional religion , for them personal and social needs of individuals can only be met by traditional religion.
To have a better understanding of religious humanism, there’s a need of functional definition of religion. According to Frederick Edwords (Executive Director, American Humanist Association ) “The true substance of religion is the role it plays in the lives of individuals and the life of the community. Doctrines may differ from denomination to denomination, and new doctrines may replace old ones, but the purpose religion serves for people, remains the same. If we define the substance of a thing as that which is most lasting and universal, then the function of religion is the core of it.”
Concisely Religeous humanism is “Faith in Action”. There are many contradictory philosophical views in this regard also. According to Kenneth Phifer “Humanism teaches us that it is immoral to wait for God to act for us. We must act to stop the wars and the crimes and the brutality of this and future ages. We have powers of a remarkable kind. We have a high degree of freedom in choosing what we will do. Humanism tells us that whatever our philosophy of the universe may be, ultimately the responsibility for the kind of world in which we live rests with us.”

I do agree to the second statement of Kenneth, but in my opinion the first statement “Humanism teaches us that it is immoral to wait for God to act for us”, leads towards fiedility. In my opinion, having no faith on God’s help detoriates the essence of “duaa”, and “duaa” is of extreme importance in any religion. It is a common observation that, whatever the person’s religion is, when he gets into a trouble and finds no help from anywhere he ultimately contacts his creator. One more thing that, only God has the power to award success or not to award success. (I’d not like to use the word failure here because failure is nothing, its just absence of success) so why not to request Him for his help. Secondly Kenneth says, “We have powers of a remarkable kind. We have a high degree of freedom in choosing what we will do.” I think whatever the power and high degree of freedom we have is not ours at all, its given to us by God. Or if we believe on Kenneth’s staement , then why can’t we keep this power and high degree of freedom forever. Inspite of having power and high degree of freedom many individuals do not succeed, why? Why can’t we stop the death?
Above mentioned questions were only a glimpse of contradiction among the religious humanist thought and Islamic point of view, there is a series of questions in this regard.

Now comes Secular Humanism. Secular Humanists may agree with much of what religious Humanists do, they deny that this activity is properly called “religious.” This isn’t a mere semantic debate. Secular Humanists maintain that there is so much in religion deserving of criticism that the good name of Humanism should not be tainted by connection with it.

The most popular example of the Secular Humanist world view in recent years was the controversial author Salman Rushdie. He said on ABC’s “Nightline” on February 13, 1989, in regard to his novel “The Satanic Verses. ”

There is an old, old conflict between the secular view of the world and the religious view of the world, and particularly between texts which claim to be divinely inspired and texts which are imaginatively inspired. . . . I distrust people who claim to know the whole truth and who seek to orchestrate the world in line with that one true truth. I think that’s a very dangerous position in the world. It needs to be challenged. It needs to be challenged constantly in all sorts of ways, and that’s what I tried to do.

In the March 2, 1989, edition of the New York Review, he explained that, in The Satanic Verses he tried to give a secular, humanist vision of the birth of a great world religion.

The Secular Humanist tradition is a tradition of defiance, a tradition that dates back to ancient Greece. The best example of Greek Mythology is the character Prometheus. Prometheus stands out because he was idolized by ancient Greeks as the one who defied Zeus. He stole the fire of the gods and brought it down to earth. For this he was punished. And yet he continued his defiance amid his tortures. This is the root of the Humanist challenge to authority.

Another truly heroic Promethean character in mythology it is Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. But now he is the Devil. He is evil. Whoever would defy God must be wickedness personified. That seems to be a given of traditional religion. But the ancient Greeks didn’t agree. To them, Zeus, for all his power, could still be mistaken.

Humanists suggest that, even if there be a god, it is OK to disagree with him, her, or it. In Plato’s Euthyphro, Socrates shows that God is not necessarily the source of good, or even good himself.

In words of Frederick Edwords ,”After all, much of Human progress has been in defiance of religion or of the apparent natural order. When we deflect lightening or evacuate a town before a tornado strikes, we lessen the effects of so called “acts of God.” When we land on the Moon we defy the Earth’s gravitational pull. When we seek a solution to the AIDS crisis, we, according to Jerry Falwell, thwart “God’s punishment of homosexuals.”

Again a contradictory thought, because God has created this world for his most lovable creature “man”, and blessed him with wisdom to find the privy secrets of the universe(landing on moon). And He gives troubles and problems to His men to check their abilities and potentials, and He appriciatesthe better solutions to get rid of the problem(seeking solution to the AIDs crisis).

Another aspect of the Secular Humanist tradition is skepticism. This term can be expalined with the help of Socrates’ philosophy. He claimed to know NOTHING, instead he devised a set of rules or laws and gave method of questioning the rules of others, of cross- examination. And Socrates didn’t die for truth, he died for rights and the rule of law. For these reasons, Socrates is the quintessential skeptical Humanist. He stands as a symbol, both of Greek rationalism and the Humanist tradition that grew out of it. And no equally recognized saint or sage has joined his company since his death.

Because both Religious and Secular Humanism are identified so closely with cultural humanism, they readily embrace modern science, democratic principles, human rights, and free inquiry.Though Religious Humanism embraces cultural humanism, this is no justification for separating out cultural humanism, labeling it as the exclusive legacy of a nontheistic and naturalistic religion called Religious Humanism, and thus declaring it alien.

By summarizing the basic ideas of Humanism and connecting them with each other it becomes clear that, Humanism is a Philosophy for people who think for themselves. It is a philosophy of imagination.Humanists recognize that intuitive feelings, hunches, speculation, flashes of inspiration, emotion, altered states of consciousness, and even religious experience, while not valid means to acquire knowledge, remain useful sources of ideas that can lead us to new ways of looking at the world. These ideas, after they have been assessed rationally for their usefulness, can then be put to work, often as alternate approaches for solving problems. Humanism concerns only abouth the human life in this world, it does not support any criteria for the promissed life after death. It also offers to take part in technological progress and discoveries. To some extent the philosophy of Humanism is acceptable but most of it comprises of unfaithfulness and disagreement to God.

An Essay on Man’s Life

God created the donkey first and blessed him with fifty years of age. When god sent the donkey on the earth he told him that he is blessed with fifty years of age but no wisdom and he has to carry the burdens on his back. His duty is to carry loads and not to care for himself. Donkey thought that if he is not given the wisdom, and for the whole life he has to carry loads of others so he has nothing to do with those fifty years. He requested the God to take back thirty years and give only twenty years to him. God did so and donkey’s age was set to be twenty.

Then God created the monkey and blessed him with twenty five years of age. God told the monkey that he is given the ability to climb from one tree to another tree and copy others, so he has to do what others are doing, and he will not have the ability to do something new from his own mind and he has to live for twenty five years. Monkey thought that copying others will be very interesting but doing nothing with his own mind for a very long time, i.e. twenty five years will be too much. So he requested the God to take back fifteen years from his age. God agreed and monkey was awarded with ten years of age.

After that God created the dog. Dog was blessed with twenty years of age but no wisdom. Dog was supposed to be faithful and loyal to his master and take good care of his master, eat whatever master gives him and if master doesn’t give him any thing to eat, he ought not to complain for it. Dog agreed to be faithful and loyal servant of his master but he demanded for a decrease in his duty time. Dog felt that twenty years will be more than enough for him so he requested the God to take back ten years and he kept only ten years with him.

After the creation of donkey, monkey and dog, God created the man. Man was blessed with wisdom and was given twenty years of age. When God sent him to the earth he told him that he has to find out the secrets of nature and has to conquer the world by using his wisdom in twenty years. Man said, oh God! as I have to explore the world and conquer it, I’d need much time as this is not possible in twenty years, so do one thing that give me that age which donkey, monkey and dog have returned. God accepted the man’s request and awarded him the returned age of other animals.

Now the early twenty years of age is man’s own life, care free of worries and tensions. In this time period man lives his life at its best. He’s free of any family responsibility or career planning. He enjoys most of his time with friends and family. He takes interests in every that thing which fascinates and gimmick him. Potentials and aims are at their optimum position in this age.

After spending his own life, man enters in the life time gifted by donkey; in this time period (from twenty to fifty years) man has to carry the load of family responsibilities. He starts working for his loved ones. He does not care for himself instead he tries hard to fulfill the requirements of his family. He keeps on carrying loads up to fifty years, where he gets retire from his job and his problems seem to be lessen when he gets free from the educational and marriage responsibilities of his children.

When man finishes the donkey’s life he enters into a monkey’s life. Now he climbs from one child’s house to another’s, he’s not able to stay completely with one of them. He copies the rules and regulations and habits of his child’s family and tries to act at his best. In this age his abilities to generate new ideas and intentions to have vigorous life abandon.

Finally man reaches to a dog’s life whereby he becomes loyal to one of his child who cares more for him. He keeps on caring for that child and his children. Sometimes if his child does not take care of him he doesn’t mind it and keeps on doing good things for him. Now he doesn’t move to one child from another instead he stays at only one place up to the death.

This is all about man’s life average age of seventy five years, twenty his own, thirty donkey’s ten monkey’s and ten dog’s

Existentialism

Because of the diversity of positions associated with Existentialism, the term is impossible to define precisely. Basically Existentialism is the philosophical movement or tendency emphasizing individual’s existence, freedom and choice. Existentialism influenced many diverse writers of 19th and 20th centuries, first of whom was a Danish philosopher Kierkegaard. He reacted against the traditions by insisting that highest good for the individual is to find his or her own unique vocation. Other Existentialist writers echoed his belief that one must choose one’s way without the aid of universal or objective standards. According to traditional view moral choice involves objective judgments for right and wrong while Existentialists have argued that no objective, rational basis can be found for moral decisions. Here it creates a contradictory situation as objective judgments are very much necessary for a better conclusion.

Subjectivity of Existentialism lays in the concept that personal experience and one’s own convictions are essential for arriving at truth. According to Existentialist school of thought the understanding of a particular situation by a person directly involved in that situation is superior to that of detached objective observer. But there is no specific systematic reasoning for such statement, which makes the Existentialists suspicious. It is true up to some extent that a person suffering from a particular situation can feel the depth of it but not necessary that he’ll make better decision to get rid of it, on the contrary an objective observer may formulate a strategy without getting into the situation.

Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and other existentialists have expressed their philosophies in aphorisms, dialogues, parables and other literary forms and acquired an “antirationalist” position. However all the existentialists can not be said to be antirationalist. As some of them have held that rational clarity is desirable wherever possible but more important questions in life are not accessible to reason or science. They have argued that science is not as rational as is commonly supposed. Nietzsche, for instance asserted that the scientific assumptions of an orderly universe is for the most part of useful fiction.

Existentialists have held that human beings do not have a fixed nature, or essence, as other animals and plants do; each human being makes choices that create his or her own nature. In the formulation of the 20th-century French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, existence precedes essence. Choice is therefore central to human existence, and it is inescapable; even the refusal to choose is a choice. Freedom of choice entails commitment and responsibility. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads.

Sartre first gave the term existentialism general currency by using it for his own philosophy and by becoming the leading figure of a distinct movement in France that became internationally influential after World War II. Sartre’s philosophy is explicitly atheistic and pessimistic; he declared that human beings require a rational basis for their lives but are unable to achieve one, and thus human life is a “futile passion”. I disagree with the statement given by Sartre as I believe that Human life is not a “futile passion” at all. We all believe that among all the creatures man is the most loveable one. God gave desire to the animals, wisdom to the angels and both to the man. And man is to control and attain the satisfaction of his desires by using the wisdom. Along with this nothing in the world is useless. Every thing and each creature of God has some purpose of its life.
According to Islamic point of view the Universe comprises of many secrets and Man has to find those secrets by using his wisdom. Thus considering human life as futile passion will be equal to refusal of blessings of Allah. He made universe for his most loveable creature Man.

According to another existentialist Heidegger , Human beings can never hope to understand why they are here; instead, each individual must choose a goal and follow it with passionate conviction, aware of the certainty of death and the ultimate meaninglessness of one’s life. I disagree to this statement also. Certainty of death does not make the life meaningless; instead it makes the life more meaningful, passionate and free of greed. Individual having true intentions and deeds doesn’t get afraid of the death. What I believe is that death is a natural phenomenon to be occurred to each and every creature. Of course thought of death makes the life meaningless for those who think that achievement of only materialistic needs is life.
Existentialism is defined by the slogan Existence precedes Essence. This means:

1. We have no predetermined nature or essence that controls what we are, what we do, or what is valuable for us.

2. We are radically free to act independently of determination by outside influences.

3. We create our own human nature through these free choices.

4. We also create our values through these choices.

The Existentialist View (We create our own nature.): We are thrown into existence first without a predetermined nature and only later do we construct our nature or essence through our actions. This slogan is opposed to the traditional view that Essence precedes Existence, according to which we are seen as having a given nature that determines what we are and what our ultimate purpose or value is. We are understood by analogy to artifacts which are made with a pre-existing idea or concept of what they will be and what they will be good for.

Western Political Thought

In my opinion ‘the western political thought’ is diverse in nature. Variety of differences is found in different school of thoughts. It’ll be convenient if we divide Western Political thought into three phases, i.e. Classical Political Theory, Modern Political Theory and Contemporary Political views.


Classical Political Theory:

Western political thought originates from Socrates. Most of the political teachers of the day were Sophists, and were of the belief that happiness was the ultimate purpose of life. For them happiness was best achieved by the acquisition of materialistic things that make people happy. Socrates argued that happiness was the ethical knowledge of how people are supposed to live. He also argued that governments are powerful organizational entities, so they should formulate ethical principles, which should be for the common good of all citizens rather than the triumph of the individual over society’s rules.

Socrates was followed by his student Plato, who is considered to be the first real political philosopher of the western world. He developed ‘Academy’ which was a university of Political Science. Plato’s endeavour was to teach political principles to the rulers, so that they can bring a change in human condition. In his book “The Republic” Plato argued in favour of ‘Philosopher-Kings’. For Plato, like Socrates, ‘justice’ was the base which can only be achieved by balancing wisdom, courage and temperance. These attributes of balance can be possessed only by philosophers, but the paradox (of The Republic) is that philosophers are not interested in ruling; they are only interested in acquisition of more and more knowledge. He proposed ‘education’ as a tool to make philosophers interested in ruling without the desire of acquisition of any materialistic thing. The term ‘democracy’ is found in Plato’s doctrine in a different way. Plato argues that even an ideal society can be self-destruct, because of inevitable human condition. And this decline is a result of passions and emphasize on equality rather than the hierarchy of classes. He called this class of people democratic and the government they create is ‘democracy’.

After Plato the western political thought was continued by his brilliant student ‘Aristotle’. For Aristotle ‘politics’ is the highest form of human expression. He proposed six forms of government, i.e. Monarchy (Ruled by only one), Aristocracy (Ruled by few), Polity (Ruled by many), Tyranny, Oligarchy and Democracy. He considered former three types as good and later three as bad forms of government. For him the distinction between good and bad was closely connected economics and class struggle. Aristotle argued that tyranny, oligarchy and democracy will always act for the good of their own class, rather than the interest of the whole society. Aristotle didn’t ignore those realities of human life which Plato did. (For Plato ‘ideal’ was the only reality.)

After that, Cicero (100 B.C) was another Greek philosopher, his writings greatly influenced the American Founders who likewise believed in a ruling elite rather than a popular democracy. Cicero developed the idea of a Senate composed of life-tenured ex-magistrates who ostensibly had the training and experience to govern. His work is very similar to Plato; He emphasized the written law which for him was the mechanism that guides the statesman in the pursuit of truth and justice.

And then, St Augustine ( A.D. 354) is there with a remarkable contribution to political thought. He argued that man’s sin nature predisposes him to do evil and that only through devotion to God can man hope to have victory over his base nature. He furthered that the political process must find common ground upon which everyone may exist. And that common ground is the context of civil peace.

After Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas’ (1225-1274 A. D.) Political thought is of great deal. Like Aristotle, St. Thomas believed that the state authority was rooted in natural law and that the written law should be the embodiment of justice. The happiness of the people could be achieved through the actualization of their communal existence.

Modern Political Thought:

Modern political thought of west is comprised of the ideas of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Locke. Machiavelli demands for a strong Monarchy, but at the same time he’s against the use of excessive power, which can cause hatred and can result as lack of control. Machiavelli further argues that religion is indispensable to good social order, as it lends credibility to the law.

Next is Hobbes, who transformed the logic of power into science. He attempted to make political behaviour based on scientific principles. For him, man is a rational creature; he collectively assents to the creation of a political machine for the accomplishment of his desires. This assent is in the form of a legal contract that moves the parties from a state of nature (conflict) to a state of relative social balance (peace.)

In modern political thought John Locke is considered to be the ‘father of liberalism’ in politics. Locke is of belief that creation of strong government doesn’t guarantee the conflicts, and moreover, a strong state is perfectly capable of a tyranny. The political system proposed by Locke advocates maximum participation of people in political process, in order to lessen the conflicts.

Contemporary Political Thought:

Contemporary political ideas of the western world include conservatism, Classic Liberalism, Modern Liberalism, Socialism and Marxism.

According to Conservatism, when a form of government has worked over a long period of time, and has been generally accepted by those governed thereby, it is folly to attempt to change it for some “purely theoretical” notion, no matter how “reasonable” that notion might be [words of Edmund Burke ]. But Burke is also of the opinion that sometimes it is better to make changes slowly and with the great weight of public opinion behind them, than to move suddenly and radically.

Classic liberalism advocates the political participation of citizens at a broader level. According to this political theory this political participation at masses can bring a political stability. This theory makes the role of government limited and advocates for the freedom for individuals in order to enjoy at maximum level so that, economic and social stability can be attained.

Modern Liberalism is the enhancement in the structure of classic liberalism. This theory advocates for the more open expression of ideas. Tocqueville (1805-1859), holds that too much emphasis on democracy created a (mistaken) belief in the political equality of the masses. He argues that equality of political participation will destroy a nation because it will ultimately result in individuals seeing themselves as isolated from other individuals and thus dependant upon the central bureaucracy for their continued support.

Another modern liberalist, James Stuart Mills suggests provision of education at masses. He’s of the opinion that this is the only way which can raise the moral and intellectual status of the society.

Socialism grew with the fall of liberalism. In this type of system state is the responsible authority for the well being of people. As liberalism advocated strongly for the free-market Capitalism, the labour class became the slave of ‘capitalists’. Regarding this failure of Liberalism, Socialism attempted to keep the ownership of assets by state, which in return has to ensure the well-being of its people. Well, in practice, Socialism has faced a dismal failure. The most important factor of failure has been the conflict between private interests and the interests of the state.

Finally Marxism, which is more complex theory. The ideology of Marxism advocates the militant actions, violent actions etc if necessary to bring a social change. According to Marx, every thing that happens or doesn’t happen is because of class conflict. He argued that artificial forces keep the conflict from getting resolved. He mentioned religion one of such artificial force.

Conclusion:

To conclude the western political thought, it is very difficult to generalize all the aspects of different thinkers. As I mentioned in the beginning that western political thought is diverse in nature. By keeping the political thought of west at a broader level, I’m of the opinion that the form of government doesn’t only depend on a particular theory, there are some more factors which support the government, and the main factor of all is the choice of political system in accordance with the need of prevailing circumstances. Secondly one thing that I’ve found common in most of the political thoughts is ‘education’. Education should not be limited to a particular group, but it should be for all. And in this context it is very necessary to educate the rulers, so that they can be best at their position. Special training programs should be designed for the rulers, and the evaluation (of rulers) process should be clear, and they should be accountable to general public for their deeds.