Reflections on society, politics and nature XIII


Trauma-informed schools and society. There is a movement to create more trauma-informed schools. These are schools where teachers and students are aware of the symptoms of trauma and how to relate to traumatized students, and where knowledge opens for understanding, empathy, and healing. In the best case, it can help whole generations of students in all areas of life. And there is a similar movement to bring trauma awareness into some types of workplaces, including police, firefighting, and the military.

When we don’t know about trauma, we tend to react to it – in ourselves and others – in ways that may retraumatize or deepen the trauma. And when we know the symptoms and how to relate to traumatized people, we can create a safe space, invite in deeper healing, and people’s lives can change for the better in all areas of their lives. The more a whole culture – whether it’s at a school, workplace, for teachers in general – is trauma-informed, the more transformative this can be.

My wish is that we will, eventually, have more trauma-informed people, communities, and even societies. It’s already happening some places, and it will most likely spread. So much of what we see as problems in our society today is typical trauma behavior, including reactivity, recurrent or ongoing anger, anxiety or depression, extreme ideologies, dehumanization of groups of people, substance abuse and any form of addiction, violence, physical and emotional abuse, and homelessness and crime. All of these are often reactions to trauma, or rather to the pain of trauma.

Dec 24, 2018

War on Christmas? This is one of the aspects of US culture that’s baffling to me. Even on the surface, it’s absurd. Christians and Christian holidays still dominate the US culture with a wide margin. It’s still the other religions and atheism that need someone to speak up for them.

And simple things like saying “happy holidays!” is just a common sense acknowledgment that people celebrate different holidays. It’s just being a sane, informed, and kind human being.

I assume the “war on Christmas” silliness comes from white Christians realizing that soon enough they’ll be in minority in the US and they will lose the privileges that traditionally came with being white Christians in the US. They are scared and they react with the “war on Christmas” nonsense.

I am sure they know it’s nonsense, but it probably feels good for a little while. They feel they are right. They get to express their fear (through anger, intolerance). They get to feel they belong to a group with other angry Christians.

Of course, it’s not very Christian of them. It’s the opposite of what Jesus so clearly demonstrated. But that has never gotten in the way of some group of Christians in the US (who seem to take pride in racism, intolerance, and anger and fear set in system). Of course, many Christians in the US are more Christian and live from and promote tolerance, inclusivity, and being more human. I myself have belonged to groups like that.

December 28, 2018

Chess, image, and intelligence. I have been following the recent chess world championships (regular, rapid, and lightning), mainly because the current no. 1 in regular chess is Norwegian.

It’s clear how chess, and especially professional chess, relies on a certain image and how the chess community have been quite intentional in building up that image over generations. They dress in suits. They act in a gentlemanly manner (mostly). They develop the theory. They appear intelligent. Being good at chess comes with prestige and is associated with a lot of generally desired characteristics. I assume that’s the reason the Soviet Union emphasized producing excellent chess players, and China now is doing the same.

And somehow, in that process, the public got the impression that chess mastery reflects some general or pure intelligence. Yes, it does require intelligence but as with mastery of any field, it requires a combination of several types of intelligences (specific to the field) along with some general opportunities, gifts, and skills.

So what does it require to be good at chess? Since I am not a chess player, I don’t really know but I assume it includes motivation and opportunity to practice (a lot), motivation and opportunity to learn the theory and study existing games, motivation and ability to learn from mistakes and strengthen your weaknesses, good guidance and coaches, good pattern recognition, good memory, and also emotional and mental stability, physical and mental stamina, and general resilience.

What’s certain is that chess mastery does not necessarily reflect IQ. IQ measures only one type of intelligence, and really, it only measures how well you do on a very specific type of tests. It’s a skill that can be learned, as I discovered in my early teens when I and a friend set out to get better at IQ tests, developed an understanding of what they were looking for, practiced getting higher scores, and increased our scores significantly.

Mental coaching. Magnus Carlsen is famous for losing to worse players, and for sometimes needing several games before he starts to play well in a championship. Several recommend that he use a mental coach to overcome what seems to clearly be a mindset-problem, although he and others seem to dismiss it out of hand. I understand the concern of perhaps messing with a mindset that usually works very well. Although I also think that he could benefit greatly from good coaching. One obvious problem is that he often underestimates players not in the top 10 or 20 in the world. Another is that he either hasn’t warmed up sufficiently before a championship or that his nerves get the upper hand. All of this would be helpful to address with the help of someone who knows what works for other athletes.

December 30, 2018


What’s going to happen now?
I’m increasingly convinced that there will be a second referendum. The Sherlock Holmes principle is always a good one: you eliminate the impossible and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the solution. The second referendum has always been highly improbable but everything else is looking impossible. There’s just no deal that the Europeans can do that can get through the House of Commons. And no deal is so catastrophic that you have to hope that no sane parliament would allow it. So the one thing left is a second referendum.

Fintan O’Toole in Fintan O’Toole: ‘Brexit is full of hysterical self-pity’, The Guardian

January 1, 2019

Age. In traditional societies, where the skills and knowledge that’s valued stays mostly the same across generations, older age is more valued. Older people have the knowledge that’s useful for the whole society. In our modern society, where technology changes rapidly, youth is more valued. Young people tend to absorb and develop the new technology.

This is natural, although it does bring an unfortunate assumption that youth somehow is inherently “better” than older age. While the reality is that it’s an artifact of a society that values rapidly changing and developing technology.

What’s the remedy? One is to be aware of this connection. We value youth because we happen to live in a society where technology changes rapidly, and we happen to value that technology. Youth is not inherently “better” than older age.

Another is to consciously examine this, and recognize that much of what we already value is timeless and improves with age, including ordinary human wisdom and maturity.

So we can value youth for what youth is good at. And we can value older age for what older age is good at. Each age comes with it’s own gifts to the person, others, and society and humanity as a whole.

And, of course, we can stay healthy into old age if we stay mentally and physically active, eat well, and take care of our own emotional issues (so they don’t weigh us down so much).

January 15, 2019

Brexit. May’s Brexit plan was just thoroughly rejected by the parliament. Why is it so difficult for Britain to go through with Brexit? As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons for the Brexit chaos is that it’s a thoroughly bad idea. Britain is deeply interwoven in the EU and it’s hard to extract it in a way that makes sense or is better than what they have. Why did so many vote for it? It’s perhaps an arrogant view, but it does seem that they were intentionally misled.

What’s most likely to happen from now on? Nobody knows since all the options (hard or soft or another referendum) seem unlikely. But if I were to guess, it would be that the deadline is extended, and there is either a soft (reasonable) Brexit or a new referendum since none of the Brexit options have a majority backing in the parliament.

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