2009.07.22 07:00 - Languages & Cultures of Kindness

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    The guardian for this session was Eliza Madrigal. The comments are by Eliza Madrigal.

    This was a pleasant session, and for me a very nice way to start off a busy day. I arrived a few minutes early, had a brief Fefonz sighting, and was joined by Sophia, then Pema, then Yakuzza!

    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Sophia :)
    sophia Placebo: hello :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Saw Fef for a moment there, was about to say hello. The recorder says it was given an invalid key for him.

    Actually I was mistaken. The recorder was given an invalid key for Sophia, which is why, with the help of Adams Rubble, I learned to find chats saved to my personal computer. :)

    sophia Placebo: me too
    Eliza Madrigal: I think he was just on the way to the Kira team meeting though :)
    Eliza Madrigal: How are you today?
    sophia Placebo: good ty , you ?
    Eliza Madrigal: Fairly well, thanks :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Usually I wake up thinking about something... a theme for the day. Today it is kindness :)
    Eliza Madrigal: You?
    sophia Placebo: nice
    sophia Placebo: a theme to talk about ?
    Eliza Madrigal: yes?
    sophia Placebo: i dont , not all the time
    Eliza Madrigal: Are you feeling better than the other day? You said you were angry at SL, or someone in it :)
    sophia Placebo: oh yes i am ty
    Eliza Madrigal: Hope that was worked out :) Great
    Eliza Madrigal: The reason I thought about kindness this morning, is that in the Harry Potter film (cant remember if the line was in the book),
    sophia Placebo: i was really angery , then i played with a kid and angrey feelings fade away
    Eliza Madrigal: That will do it :)
    Eliza Madrigal: At one point in the film Dumbledore tells Harry that he is unfailingly kind, and remarks that it is a quality not appreciated by most...
    Eliza Madrigal: And this morning I read an article to the same effect.

    The article itself is interesting in a few places, but mostly common sense.   http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article07080901.aspx

    Eliza Madrigal: That kindness is seen as a passive/girly quality, not an active/powerful quality.
    Eliza Madrigal: I guess, like "nice"
    sophia Placebo: true
    Eliza Madrigal: But it isn't 'easy' to be kind. Not truly kind.
    sophia Placebo: poeple like to show some power or superiority
    Eliza Madrigal: What about superior manners? Do they count? :)
    sophia Placebo: what are superior manners?
    Eliza Madrigal: Kindness, giving benefit of the doubt before judging, etc.
    Eliza Madrigal: Patience :)

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    Eliza Madrigal: The article mentioned that people, especially on the internet, can get used to an echo chamber of sorts, and fail to hear or tolerate other ideas
    sophia Placebo: one saying here is - who would need to opress except the weak
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, like that!
    Eliza Madrigal: So bullying is born of insecurity and a feeling of weakness
    sophia Placebo: i liked the echo chamber image
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, because we think of the internet as being this 'open' slate....
    Eliza Madrigal: but people make it what they want, in a sense
    Eliza Madrigal: we all do
    sophia Placebo: true
    Eliza Madrigal: So it seems there needs to be an intention toward openness, which does seem to require something like kindness to operate
    Eliza Madrigal: Otherwise we end up with a more rude society, which would be ironic considering the vast potential of the internet
    sophia Placebo: i like to think about it as neotin law
    Eliza Madrigal: Say more?
    sophia Placebo: spelling*
    sophia Placebo: newtin said that for each act there is a counter act , equal in maltitude oppiste in direction right ?
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, eys cause and effect
    Eliza Madrigal: *yes
    sophia Placebo: kindess is the same , it is an act and its effect is a counter act to you or to thers
    Eliza Madrigal: hm, yes. So you believe it has effects even if they are not immediately seen?
    sophia Placebo: sure
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, I do too
    Eliza Madrigal: At least that is the way I try to live...
    sophia Placebo: but i wouldnt wait or look for that effect
    Eliza Madrigal smiles
    sophia Placebo: i wouldnt even expect a pay back kind of thing
    Eliza Madrigal: Sometimes it seems some causes are weightier than others..or more immediate and obvious
    Eliza Madrigal: And some more subtle
    sophia Placebo: true
    Eliza Madrigal: and we get used to paying attention to the obvious causes perhaps... easier

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    sophia Placebo: i think kindness if applyed as a mean for social openess it would become like a manner or tradition , but if kindness precived as philosophy or as concept accepted and appreciated indivisually then yes it would make a diffrence
    Eliza Madrigal: hm, yes. Anytime we try to capture something and set it up as a 'standard' it can lose some value?

    Pema arrives

    sophia Placebo: Hi Pema
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Pema :)
    Pema Pera: Hi Eliza and Sophia!
    Pema Pera: quiet morning here :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Yes, these morning sessions are so unpredictable
    Eliza Madrigal: Sophia and I were talking about kindness a little :)
    Pema Pera: sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt your conversation
    Eliza Madrigal: Not at all!
    Pema Pera: nice topic!
    Pema Pera: what did you conclude or suggest?
    sophia Placebo: well not always Eliza but it happenes in most time
    Eliza Madrigal: Sophia made an interesting point : i think kindness if applyed as a mean for social openess it would become like a manner or tradition , but if kindness precived as philosophy or as concept accepted and appreciated indivisually then yes it would make a diffrence
    sophia Placebo: and eliza asked :[7:32] Eliza Madrigal: hm, yes. Anytime we try to capture something and set it up as a 'standard' it can lose some value?

    Yakuzza arrives

    Pema Pera: hi Yak!
    sophia Placebo: Helo Yak
    Eliza Madrigal: Yakuzza, Hi there :)
    Yakuzza Lethecus: hey there
    Pema Pera: yes, I can see that -- it is much better if everyone (or even some people) would try to be personally engaged rather than following rules
    Eliza Madrigal nods
    Pema Pera: but even so, rules can have a very positive influence
    Pema Pera: I'm always reminded of that, when I visit Japan
    Eliza Madrigal: yes?
    Eliza Madrigal: As in manners and a general expectation?
    Pema Pera: In a Starbucks in Japan, the people behind the cash register look you in the eye, they smile, they pay attention, they really are there and willing to communicate
    Eliza Madrigal: That makes a difference, I'd imagine, in the whole day
    Pema Pera: and when I go back to New York, half the time those people in the same role are looking at their co-workers and continuing their conversation while ignoring their client even though they are counting out the money for them
    Pema Pera: always a shock that lasts a few days before I get used to it again . . . .
    sophia Placebo: :)
    Eliza Madrigal nods, yes here in Miami also
    Pema Pera: as if they are trying to make a point: we are not lower than you, we can look down on you -- very sad
    Eliza Madrigal: When I have an attentive salesperson or toll booth person, I have a surge of excitement because its become rare
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, that's insightful Pema... it is a shield of sorts
    Pema Pera: they look very unhappy too, most of the time, while the Japanese seem to actually enjoy playing the joyful role -- it doesn't at all look skin deep
    Pema Pera: yes, Eliza, I know what you mean
    Eliza Madrigal: And I wonder if that shield doesn't seem necessary because we undervalue subtle values
    Eliza Madrigal: like kindness

    I"m reminded of my grandfather here, who likes to say "Work is the privelege of serving others." I wonder if the shield isn't also a guard against the expectation that the person one is serving sees 'just a role' rather than a person. Surely, a defensiveness can result. 

    Pema Pera: the shield may be for class and race reasons . . . .
    sophia Placebo: the spirit of that joy is still living in Japanese culture ?
    Pema Pera: problems that go very deep . . . .
    Pema Pera: oh yes, Sophia, very much so
    sophia Placebo: wonderfull!
    Pema Pera: appreciation for details, in everything, from electronic manifacturing to wrapping a present
    Pema Pera: and receiving a little present: they actually use chakras, probably without being aware of it
    Pema Pera: when receiving a present you bow slightly and bring the present to your forehead, and then you straighten and hold the present in from of your heart
    Eliza Madrigal: Oh! Nice!!
    Pema Pera: clearly connected with chi/prana energy centers
    Pema Pera: you can feel it
    sophia Placebo: so higly appreciation gesture
    Pema Pera: but it's part of their gestures, like shaking hands, I'm sure they don't think about it, but I'm equally sure they do feel it
    sophia Placebo nods
    Eliza Madrigal nods, that's lovely.
    sophia Placebo: how do they shake hands?
    Pema Pera: they don't :-)
    Eliza Madrigal: The little things. Our life is full of them and yet we rush by
    sophia Placebo: ok :))
    Pema Pera: unless forced to, or willing to adapt to foreigners; normally they bow
    Pema Pera: the connections are energetic, through gestures, not physical

    Shared a little moment here which sticks out to my memory as strongly as a significant holiday might! :)

    Eliza Madrigal: I was paying my son's fees one day at his school, and the lady behind the counter and I bowed kind of instinctively. It was such a sweet moment... out of nowhere. I hardly knew her :)

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    Pema Pera: what a nice moment, Eliza!
    Eliza Madrigal: yes, indeed! I remark on it because it was like we knew one another 'under the surface' as it were
    Eliza Madrigal: The setting surely didn't call for it!
    Eliza Madrigal: Now I know her quite well...lovely woman :)
    sophia Placebo: :) sweet
    Pema Pera: we sometimes talk about "group's energy" and it is not hard to notice it, but we dont' have the words for it and we don't have any systematic way to even notice it
    Eliza Madrigal: that's true, not easy to define ... impossible to pin down
    Pema Pera: while in Japan "watch out" or "take care" literally is said as "use your chi" -- chi is not an exotic word, it's as ordinary as water or stone :)
    Pema Pera: so they're quite good at pinning it down, traditionally, to a large extent :-)
    Pema Pera: to begin to feel an affection for someone is in Japanese to let someone into your chi -- many expressions like that
    Pema Pera: ("chi" is the Chinese word; in Japanese it is "ki")
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, a very nice part of normal vocabulary, not some thing that one talks about which causes anxiety in a room.
    Pema Pera: exactly!
    Pema Pera: more like "vibes" or "chemistry" in English
    Eliza Madrigal: Yes, and only actors are allowed to talk about those things outside of yoga studios in America. hah
    Pema Pera: hahaha

    Good idea to ask ourselves how often we expose ourselves only to those things we want to hear/wish to see, and perhaps lose a little skill in responding to whatever arises, pleasant or un. Can entire countries become echo chambers?

    Yakuzza Lethecus: but is it easy to generalize that for japan ? for example all the american´s i met through second life are kind too, but all the american´s i met through for example gaming before that where not so kind and openminded and believe me they used even a totally different english :)
    Pema Pera: nice observation, Eliza!
    Yakuzza Lethecus: how far is it maybe even an issue that we see what we want to see and we only go to the places that we like to see
    Pema Pera: oh, I'm not implying that Japanese as a whole are more kind; rather that their language offers them a tool to talk/think/work with energy
    Pema Pera: and that their training forces them to pay a lot more attention to each other than in most other countries, which is a condition for the possibility of appreciation -- not a cause, but it sure helps
    Yakuzza Lethecus: so like the sapier worf hypothesis ? that language is shifting our thinking ?
    Yakuzza Lethecus: whorf
    Eliza Madrigal: That was actually where were started a bit this morning, Ya, that the internet, with this vast potential, can still become an 'echo chamber', so a kind of intention to counteract that is worth talking about
    Pema Pera: I think language and thinking mutually affect each other
    Eliza Madrigal nods
    Yakuzza Lethecus: i belive that too obviously :), i just think much about that issue :)
    Pema Pera: like a riverbed guiding the water, but the water in turn reshaping the riverbed
    Pema Pera: how do you see the differences between nationalities or ethnic groups, Yakuzza?
    Pema Pera: do you think it is meaningful to talk about general characteristics?
    Yakuzza Lethecus: it´s complicated i don´t try to think about it unless i get into trouble
    Pema Pera: hehehe
    sophia Placebo: :))
    Pema Pera: talking about it will get you in trouble, for sure :-)
    sophia Placebo: how come ? never had a general thought about American movies for example ?
    sophia Placebo: a british swears , a french pride , the italian joy
    Yakuzza Lethecus: sure, we were all bitching about america and bush in europe while knowing that that is an generalization and many american´s didn´t even liked bush
    Yakuzza Lethecus: so it´s really funny since obama nobody is doing that, that frequent anymore
    sophia Placebo: no no no , not the bitching part
    Eliza Madrigal: I remember 'manners/kindness' being as serious an issue to my great-grandmother as "don't touch the stove" , so not mere nationality in noticing some things
    Eliza Madrigal: but asking why one culture lets something go and another preserves? Interesting
    Eliza Madrigal: An America that didn't feel some sort of entitlement to the world's resources might not have elected Bush?
    Pema Pera: for one thing, the way children are raised in different European countries is quite different, the amount of freedom they are given, and what they are allowed to do, etc

    This does seem to be a big difference. I've erred on the side of being too protective with my own (well the ones I helped bring into the world in any event-ha), and think about this quite a lot.

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    Yakuzza Lethecus: anyway, i don´t think that much about it and i don´t think thats important unless i gain experience with the people, obviously when somebody shows me that it´s unpleasant in any form of communication i will stop doing what i do
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    Pema Pera: Bush is a complex question: for one thing, the majority of Americans have very little insight in and no personal experience with other countries -- and in a democracy where the majority rules, as an effect America pays hardly any attention to other countries . . . . unless they really have to, when their power and/or money supply dwindles

    The following sentence is 'benefit of the doubt' at work.

    Pema Pera: it's not ill will, but rather lack of awareness I think
    Pema Pera: hard to be kind for something you didn't even know anything about
    Eliza Madrigal: yes so the circumstances of a period of prosperity can produce less than wonderful results
    Eliza Madrigal: maybe? and visa versa... ie appreciation for small thigns
    Eliza Madrigal: *things
    Eliza Madrigal: and 'other' people
    Eliza Madrigal: I'm not sure, but yes true, is a kind of blindness
    sophia Placebo: agree re pema
    sophia Placebo: my brother went there for education , he said they were really nice poeple , but totally unaware of the rest of the world
    Pema Pera: exactly
    Pema Pera: America is an island, surrounded by itself, with an island mentality
    sophia Placebo nods

    Eliza Madrigal: Hm, yes I can see that too. Very different from area to area also though.
    Yakuzza Lethecus: you feel as a cosmopolitical citizen , american or dutch pema ?
    Pema Pera: japanese mostly :)
    sophia Placebo: hehe
    Yakuzza Lethecus: :)
    Eliza Madrigal smiles
    Pema Pera: of the three cultures I'm part of, Japan has my strongest affinity
    Pema Pera: (I'm not joking :-)
    Pema Pera: well, it's past midnight here, talking about Japan, time to get some sleep . . . great seeing you again!
    Eliza Madrigal: :) Thanks for stopping by Pema
    sophia Placebo: night pema , happy dreams
    Pema Pera: thanks for joining us here!
    Pema Pera: see you all soon again

    Languages. This is another area where the American perspective can be quite different from that of other countries. Knowing another language can be seen as an 'extra' in America often, whereas nearly everywhere else, knowing only one language is quite a strong limitation. I do think that is changing rapidly, however.

    Yakuzza Lethecus: i don´t even know what german culture is, or the dutch culture but with zen and buddism the japanes culture is very popular and below the 30th the japanese culture is even very popular for manga´s and anime´s.
    Yakuzza Lethecus: bye pema
    Yakuzza Lethecus: night
    Eliza Madrigal: Nice conversation. Nite
    Pema Pera is Offline
    Eliza Madrigal: Yakuzza, this is true. Aspects of Japanese 'pop' culture are influential in many places now
    Eliza Madrigal: My daughters *love* anime conventions, and one has taken it farther to teaching herself Japanese online through anime
    sophia Placebo: my sisters did that too !
    Yakuzza Lethecus: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: yes? It seems to be a great way to learn
    sophia Placebo: they want to give japanese language classes
    Yakuzza Lethecus: i also learned my spoken english mostly through tv shows and later gaming
    Eliza Madrigal: My hispanic friends are always telling me I need to watch novelas to perfect my Spanish
    Eliza Madrigal: (which is horrible)
    sophia Placebo: hehe
    Yakuzza Lethecus: rofl
    Yakuzza Lethecus: i watched el caballero oscuro in spanish :)
    Yakuzza Lethecus: i think i miswrote it :)
    Yakuzza Lethecus: i tried spanish for a while at the beginning of this year
    Eliza Madrigal: "Dark cowboy?"
    Yakuzza Lethecus: the dark knight
    Eliza Madrigal: Ahhh
    Yakuzza Lethecus: but i haven´t watched it even in english
    Yakuzza Lethecus: so i think i must have ,,the need" to watch something :)
    Eliza Madrigal: I enjoy the language itself, and in school I did very well, on paper. It is a very different thing to speak and understand.
    sophia Placebo: see you both later !
    Yakuzza Lethecus: something i would do anyway but in the other language
    Yakuzza Lethecus: bye sophia
    Eliza Madrigal: Bye Sophia, nice to see you today!
    Yakuzza Lethecus: but i think i will leave as well
    Eliza Madrigal: Yes, today is a busy online day for me. Good to post the log and be a little productive :)
    Yakuzza Lethecus: there is a spanish course i participate in in second life by the way
    Yakuzza Lethecus: it´s on TLE
    Eliza Madrigal: yes??
    Eliza Madrigal: TLE is?
    Yakuzza Lethecus: http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=cherylatbr%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Los_Angeles
    Aurelia Scarmon is Online
    Eliza Madrigal: Ah, thank you! I may have to do this. I'm about to undergo an intensive language workshop in a few months
    Yakuzza Lethecus: http://www.tleinsl.com/
    Eliza Madrigal: so may be a very nice prep and compliment
    Yakuzza Lethecus: the second life course isn´t that great but it´s free and it´s interesting
    Eliza Madrigal: One never knows what they'll respond to
    Yakuzza Lethecus: anyway, take care
    Eliza Madrigal: Sometimes I think I've learned nothing from something, and then hear myself teach it rather well. hahha
    Eliza Madrigal: Yes, you too! Bye for now
    Yakuzza Lethecus: different approachers
    Eliza Madrigal: yes :)

    Yakuzza Lethecus: software, courses , novelas :D+

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