Monday, February 7, 2011

Much more than the Sum of its Parts

"The whole is more than the sum of its parts."

- Aristotle [Metaphysica]


We know that if we each do a little more, we all do a lot more. This holds true for any joint effort such as brainstorming, crowd-sourcing, team sports, academic discussions... and more.

It however gets a little bit interesting when we consider stereotypes. In this skewed way of looking at things, we focus on one [usually negative or wanting] attribute, and base our entire outlook and judgments on it.

In Kenya, people of a particular ethnic extraction may be perceived as proud, lazy, promiscuous, unromantic or greedy, among other undesirable traits. We still go ahead and inspired by prejudice, dislike individuals for belonging to ethnic communities which are generally believed to have the aforementioned traits.

The recently solemnized wedding of 36 year old Peter Mbugua and 75 year old Wambui Otieno Mbugua at St Andrews Church in Nairobi has been widely discussed on radio and across the Internet. People have voiced their divergent opinions, many of them typically based on stereotypes and popular opinion.

My attention was however drawn to this post by one member [Kusadikika] on the Wazua forum. He/she writes:
Have you ever eaten a delicious meal of say Pilau after which you are left smacking your lips thinking "tamu sana"? Would it make sense if someone later asked you what is it you found delicious; was it the salt, was it the spice, was it the rice, was it the garlic or tomatoes or the oil. Could you still have loved it had it been served frozen rather than hot? Does it therefore mean that what you liked was the heat in the food and not the meal itself?

People are many things. They are tall, short, old, young, rich, poor, with ugly feet, beautiful hands, long hair, good teeth, talkative, quiet, kind, funny, talented etc. All attributes we possess and circumstances we stand in are part and parcel of who we are. Take out one and the whole is changed. You would be a different person if you were younger or older, a different gender, taller or shorter, less intelligent or more intelligent. You would be a different person if you were more or less educated and yes you would be a different person if you were richer or poorer.

Mbugua and Wambui love each other and have been together for 8 years. They met and fell in love in the circumstances that they found themselves in. Love is a beautiful thing. Let us not scandalise it by dissecting it.

I find the above very sober and well-thought. I agreement with Vin on the same forum, I dare not add anything else. It's all and well said.

Let us acknowledge our diversity, but still be graceful enough to find unity sans myopic, stereotypical prejudices. May we appreciate every individual's worthwhile input to the bigger picture.

Have a productive week!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Right Kind of Bad



"Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune."

- William James


Misfortune: You thought your life sucks


Good from Bad?

Lately, I have been thinking about the good that often comes out of bad things. Yeah... I deliberately used the word 'often' right there :)

That reminded me of this blog post that was written in July 2009, based on an unfortunate incident in October 2008.

Challenging Convention

While on a brief phone conversation with my lovely friend L this morning, we both agreed that a simple and uncommon life can be profoundly fulfilling. Such an unconventional life is hard to come by however, and often involves much sacrifice, courage, resilience and unrelentingly sticking to one's stated objectives.

Going against the grain often seems a bad thing, but I'm willing to bet that it is the right kind of bad.

The Benefits of Tragedy

That aside, we often undergo difficult and unfortunate situations in life. They often seem insurmountable, hitting us at the worst possible time. Two women had such experiences, and they proceeded to draw much needed insight and shared this with the world. It is indeed true that beautiful disasters exist.

In the following video, Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke of insight...

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

For Stacey Kramer, an unwanted, frightening, traumatic and costly  experience can turn out to be a priceless gift.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

See the GOOD in BAD

Have you recently had a misfortune that you find very hard to understand?

Well, there is something worth learning in that misfortune. Even better, it is most likely that there is much benefit in it too. So stop whining and seek to uncover, learn from and benefit from your bad experiences.

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