Yearly Archives: 2017

Ideals, the Better Criterion

Since the dawn of civilization people around the world have grouped themselves based on these five criteria:

Socio-Economic status

There are those who are tied by blood: siblings, parents, children and ancestors. There are those with the same ethnicity: African, Anglo Saxon, Asian, Arab, who feel connected by the way they look, skin color, hair type, etc. There are those from the same village, city or country who have feelings of pride for the land where they were born, and they feel compatriots of the same soil. There are others grouped by the religion they practice, regardless of other criteria. There are those who form groups based on their socio-economic status: rich, poor, clergy, royalty, merchants, plebeians, commoners, slaves. These five criteria have been present forever in Europe, Africa, Asia, and also in the pre-discovered new continent of America.

In 1492 Europeans moved to the “new” continent and occupied its land. Spaniards and Portuguese conquered from the South of Argentina to the southern part of  United States, while British and French conquered most of North America from the North to southern areas of  US. The reasons for moving to the new world were for the expansion of European kingdoms and the gaining of power. However, American leaders of the 1770’s felt unhappy with some of the old grouping criteria, specifically, they disliked the socio-economic status given to royalty and clergy. They didn’t see ethnicity or religion as a divisive issue since most of them where Judeo-Christian white European descendents, and the minority of African slaves were not even considered fully humans. The fathers of the independence movement were clever and wise enough to build a new vision based on a different criterion that would “form a more perfect Union.” The new criterion was a set of ideals. Ideals of liberty, equality, freedom of religion, etc. This was very attractive to the locals, and so the leaders were successful in expelling the British army by convincing the people to rebel and promote those ideals. It was a very concise set of ideals that captured the imagination of Americans, and propelled them to see the future in a hopeful and bright way.

In South of America the independence movement in the 1800’s had initially the same intentions and ideals as in United States. It was pioneered by Francisco de Miranda (a Free Mason like George Washington and several US independence leaders) but he was sent to prison by his apprentice, Simon Bolivar, who unfortunately didn’t succeed in establishing a one-single-nation in South America with the same ideals of Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and Hamilton in the north. South America was left with several countries with military governments that diverged from the civilian-commanded society in USA.

For the next 230 years, all presidents of the United States, from Washington to Obama, including Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan, have followed the premise of bonding the society based on the ideals written in the US Constitution and its Amendments. Americans feel they are a group of people not bind by blood or ethnicity or soil or religion or socio-economic status, but simply by the ideals put forward by the founding fathers in 1789. It is the reason why this country has welcomed and let stay here important people from other places around the world, such as the founding father Alexander Hamilton (from British West Indies), the physicist Albert Einstein (from Germany), Steve Jobs’ father (from Syria), and the entrepreneur Elon Musk (from South Africa); people that have transformed this country in positive valuable ways. It is thanks to this openness of mind that this country, and countries with similar ideals (e.g. UK, France), have been able to prosper so much for the past two centuries.

Unfortunately, Americans have lost their way lately. They elected a new leadership that seems to favor the old grouping criteria and could destroy the hopeful and bright beacon that the fathers of the Constitution created. The nationalist world movement is threatening the ideals of 1789 and is spreading fast (e.g., UK brexit, Spain-Catalunya) with a facade of patriotism. They are confounding patriotism and nationalism which were clearly differentiated by Charles de Gaulle, the former French president and WWI & WWII General: ”Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.

Only when we dispel the fallacy of a better future promised by nationalists using the aforementioned grouping criteria, can we recover the path towards coexistence, prosperity and peace among the inhabitants of this country that the founding fathers had in mind.

C.A. Soto Aguirre©

The Compounding Effect of Unresolved Problems

We all are familiar with the compounding effect of interest rates. The longer the term of a loan is, the more money you pay back to the lender. Even worse, if the term is twice longer, you don’t pay twice in interest, you pay more than twice. In other words, it is not a linear problem. And if you skip a payment, the interest keeps compounding even more. The same can be said of in everyday life problems. Let’s create a scale to measure the level of concern caused by a problem. Say zero is no concern, no problem at all; and 1000 is the worst concern, the worst problem you may ever have. Imagine now you have a small problem, for instance, a level-10 problem. Since it is a small problem, you don’t worry much and don’t try to resolve it immediately. You keep going on with your life as if you had no problems. But remember, the concern is still there, and once in a while your mind wanders, goes back to the problem, and it reminds you of the concern, anxiety, or as a minimum, it distracts you for a moment. Since your mind is not one hundred percent present in the things you need to do every day, you will make mistakes. Some mistakes will be small, some will be big. These will cause a new problem, say a problem of level-5, and now you have two problems, instead of one. When you have two problems that are concerning you the compounding effect starts working. You don’t have a concern level-15 (10+5), but a concern level-10 times level-5, that is a concern level-50. What happens is that your mind has now three things to worry about, the two problems and the present activities of life. Even worse, very often, the two problems are related to each other, or are intertwined by a cause-effect relationship. Your mind keeps distracted more frequently than before, and is likely to fall into the next problem more easily. In no time, without you realizing , you will have three, four, five problems, and the compounding effect will accumulate so rapidly that very easily you can reach the highest level of concern (level-1000) and give up mentally. Your brain shuts off, your energy disappears, you anxiety elevates, depression sinks in, and you fall into a zombie state.

How do you get out of the compounding effect of problems? The same way you get our of debt from a bank: pay as quick as possible. That is, tackle your first problem as if it were a big problem, act quickly, and resolve it as soon as possible. Don’t let simple and resolvable problems take over your life. Make a “to resolve” list, and keep it short with no more than two items, two problems at most. If you let it grow to three, four, or more problems, you will fault and begin the bankruptcy of your life.

Good luck resolving!

C.A. Soto Aguirre©