Serenity Now

Peace cannot be achieved, today and now, without an immense amount of effort. It takes everything to let fundamental disagreements, pain, and past unfairness subside in order to move forward without the anvil of the past weighing you down. It cannot be demanded, because by its very definition there can be no force and all parties must accept the conditions amicably.

Demanding peace is no more useful than demanding yourself to relax in a moment of panic. It’s a paradox. Fundamentally it cannot be rushed. It takes effort. It takes endurance, respect, and consistency.

What differentiates the villains from the heroes in old tales, and even blockbusters that we know of now – is that the villain must only succeed once to achieve their goal. If the villain wishes to cause terror, to take lives, and to exert their will, they need only do it once. Their world ending plan, or their terrorist attack – has to be only be achieved the one time. Terror, is spread easily – peace is a little tougher.

So we must be consistent. Stronger. Unwavering, and unfaltering. It begins not with magnanimous leaders that boast their own narcissism, but with the people who we often forget actually run the world – the people. It can only be achieved on the grand scale that it will, once the small behaviours of the people change. Once people remember to prioritise what they want most, rather than what they want now.

The next time someone skips you in a queue, or walks in front of you – do not storm and pout and get mad about it. Even if it irritates you in the exact moment, work hard to laugh, or joke, and move past it. Do not let the second, dictate the minute. Because very quickly, the minute can dictate the hour, and so on. Big things are only made up of small things, and it is our lack of vigilance on the small things that allows larger things to manifest themselves over time.

Talk about the small things; communicate towards a solution, as they arise. Accept that the solution may not be achieved immediately, but it cannot even begin to be worked upon until stakeholders are even aware that an issue exists. More so; do this with a smile. Do not assume maliciousness, where ignorance will do. If your waiting staff have not cleared away a table you wish to sit at, do not be so arrogant as to assume they are not doing their job, and complain of the terrible service – instead stop for a moment, consider it may be busy, and that by chance in this exact moment you spotted the table you want to sit at, they were dealing with other issues and unfortunately this was not their priority. In fact, if you have worked in the service or retail industry, you know this to be true. Be polite and kind, and with a smile bring it to someone’s attention. Think about it for a moment, from a perspective that is not your own. Imagine you are in their place, and how you would feel if someone spoke to you horribly. Equally, imagine the difference it would make if someone was kind to you, when everyone else was not. Simple actions, behavioural changes and understanding can change the world. You just must apply it to everything, every example that you can.

Say thank you with sincerity. Mean it, no matter who it is, or for what it’s for. As much as we like to believe in a society that there are certain rights we have, which we do not – such as the right to be served at a restaurant – we… don’t. Someone could just say, no.
“I have the right to refuse you, and I do.” So when you are served, when you would like to be – say thank you. And pleases are just basic manners.

Your opinion is not inherently worth more than anyone else. While of course, someone who is actually educated on a subject may have the facts to more accurately represent it, it does not mean they are any more important than the next person who wants to discuss it. Discussion is for everyone, so listen to everyone’s opinion. Do not simply wait for your turn to speak. Listen. Use it to change your own opinion, or cement it. Regardless of what it does, it is almost always certainly worth it, as long as the person on the other end is genuine.

IF we had wished to achieve serenity now, all of these things we should have begun to do a long time ago. But while we must be patient and wait a little longer, and to some degree this can be disheartening, simply remember the following phrase;

“The best time to plant a tree, is twenty years ago. The second best time, is now.”

This will guide you, and remind you that all things worthwhile require persistence, patience, consistency, and sacrifice.

This is all a lot to remember. And a lot to do. But the truth is, the small change in attitude brings about all of the following in turn, a domino effect. Once you approach everything with kindness, and acceptance first, all of your future decisions can be made by you in the moment, rather than requiring guidance, and a list of examples by which you can conduct yourself.

Use advice as your guidelines, not your rule book.

And finally, while peace and a global serenity may not be achieved tomorrow; while it will require an immense amount of effort and forgiveness on all sides; while it will require the removal of pride from the equation and the relinquishment of “the upper hand” of power – you can start today. You can be the best you can be, and as that’s all you can do – you as a human, and the ones you love close to you, can achieve serenity now.

 

 

Discussion: Language, without barometer

Suppose that in ten million years, humanity has been long wiped off the face of the planet. Some life still remains, but it has regressed to a more primitive state, due to some cataclysmic event, caused by our own iniquity, or some element of chance.
No animal that could understand the basics of calculus has existed on the rock called Earth for a very long time.

When one day, entirely by chance, our no longer blue planet is discovered, by some nomadic civilisation, who managed to achieve travel into the stars without using that same technology to blow each themselves up. In the ruins alone, under the assumption that concrete has eroded into mere particles that blew in the wind, and pages from books lost their ink; this civilisation would be able to piece together very little of what we were. Even if somehow some homestead had managed to endure the withering of time – if it had been cocooned in a blanket of ice, for instance; where would you even begin to understand what objects were?

A slab of metal and glass filled with silicon lines, in the corner of a room, where every piece of furniture is pointed at it. Knives and forks on the dinner table, for fighting no doubt. Window frames on the second floor, because we could jump so high, and often used that for quick access. Cloth in wooden containers, powdered energy in glass jars, animal carcasses in large white frozen boxes. It would be a frightening world of guesswork without a basis by which to guess. Everyone has had that experience of trying to tell a story, that was funny at the time, but after telling it out loud you find the other person does not find it so. Think of this, except not only do you not speak the same language, but you share no history, no culture, no prospects, no allegiances, and perhaps not even the same galaxy.

Now let’s suggest that humanity as a collective decides that the idea of a future civilisation discovering our remains and not being able to fabricate who we were is just too harsh a thought to bare. So they decide to devise a solution to this, or at least to devise a means in which to help these future nomads. And as a collective, they have decided to accept applications from anyone on the planet, and accept any ideas anyone on the planet may have on how best to communicate with the future visitors.

The problem then becomes the focus of this article: How do you communicate with these visitors? How do you construct a language, without barometer? In our own world, translations of works are inherently different to the language in which they were originally written, mainly because there is no word which translates over 100% – but at least we have something by which we can vaguely relate it to. But with an alien visitor -you don’t even have a set of words, objects, animals, or plants, by which you could guarantee you share. Not only this, but you cannot even predict the senses this alien might use to perceive the world around them. It is not enough to suggest you could communicate in a language that is a concatenation of a number of languages that are most frequently used or most expressive; because you cannot guarantee this creature has ears. Or perhaps they do but do not hear in the same frequency as we do. Perhaps you wish to communicate in symbols? – Well it has taken us thousands of years to build up semiotics to the point we can look at something and register to which category it belongs to at a glance, and even now most humans struggle with all of them, they differ in time and they differ from culture to culture. Equally, as before, the visiting nomads may not have eyes. Or if they do, maybe they do not see colour in the same range that we do. Lets say that they do have eyes – well what do they even register as a note? Say they looked at English at a glance, they could interpret the white space between the letters as the symbols rather than the letters themselves.

The possibilities are near endless for interpretation. This would be fair to say of something that came from our planet, or even our galaxy. But this could be a visitor that we may not even recognise as intelligent life, and yet regardless, it is. So much so that it had travelled through the stars to find us.

Furthermore then, we have an obligation to protect intelligent life as best as we can. To avoid any kind of pain and anguish where we can. If something can intelligent understand the universe and perceive its own consciousness, it must be our responsibility to ensure it.
It is important then to have this discussion – say we are aware of what brought about our destruction. It is our obligation then, to warn these visitors of the dangers we could not avoid. Perhaps areas of contamination, physical or otherwise, should be left in the past and certain technologies either avoided or proceeded with caution. The question being, how do we do this?

How would you communicate to something that may not even perceive the world in the same way that you do? And on a more personal note… Would you? Would you personally make an application to share your thoughts on how best to do this?

Arguably our only efforts to communicate without language thus far, is music. For thousands of years, we have communicated celebration, happiness, fear and war to others through music. No lyrics required to communicate exactly how we feel. Perhaps this would be our best bet to begin. Perhaps the sound of children laughing, the rain forest, or the ocean reaching the shoreline. The times at which we as a species were most at peace.
But then, while this may provide an example of our environment – it doesn’t necessarily define who we were or are. When we were good or bad. When we loved, and when we hated.

If we continue on a scientific trend – would we leave behind a hologram of a child as an ark of information, to provide context to who we were? Would this be the most realistic option, to convey our messages of peace in as many images and as many words as we possibly could? Could this child hold out a hand, with the bumps on his hand spelling in braille, and his words echoed in every other language, and Morse code? Would what the child spoke even resonate on any parallel? Should we literally throw sounds and light in some form of pattern, and hope that something sticks? Data dump our history and languages in as many different patterns as possible? Perhaps an AI, that can use everything that we are currently to determine what COULD be encountered in the future? Statistically, this is probably necessary. As much as they would like to earn us, we may need to learn it first, in the form of some machine learning. To discuss topics not only do we not understand yet, but we may never even have encountered in our cosmically short lifespan.

What if we decided that we wanted to communicate, only that which we wanted to communicate. I.e. perhaps we would wish to leave out the horrid parts of our history, or tell much more embellished versions of it in myth, legend, and art rather than the much more hard to swallow science and objectivity. If we were to do that, how could we separate semantics from pragmatism? To say very clearly what is, and not what we meant to say. This applies to our language, and also our visualisation of our culture. Say we built, or painted, or sculpted a grand cathedral, and hid it in some frozen ark – we may try to convey how complex and grandiose we were in our architectural choice – only to find that our visitor friends interpret the use of space as inefficient. They may regard our distinct lack of compactness instead, as a sign we were not intelligent whatsoever. That we were too wasteful. Perhaps then, they would be right.

The questions are endless, and arguably you could discuss for the millions of years we are hypothetically wiped out discussing what we could and should do – if and when we should – why and where we should. In fact, this question, which its infinite possibilities seems to grand a task to bestow upon us, and too great a burden to endure.

But if something is important enough, you must always try. Even if the expected outcome, is failure.

However; the question remains: Would you? And if so, how? How would you begin to construct a language to speak beyond the stars, without barometer?

Go.