Rething our identity and belonging

Por: Hno. Jesús Bayo M. FMS

Artists, poets and philosophers observe reality and try to understand it, ordain it, adorn it and name it in their own language. The different sciences and arts approach reality with a specialized look. Ordinary people often pass distractedly in search of food and the things most immediately necessary to live, we see the same thing every day without observing or interpreting the nuances. Artists, poets, philosophers… and comedians often have a global look, but also in detail and miniature. They have their microscopes and telescopes to observe reality and capture its nuances. Sometimes they look with magnifying glass, sometimes they observe with rare convex or concave mirrors, but they always reflect the reality they look at.
Arts, letters and philosophy (without adjectives that restrict or cloud your gaze) help us find meaning to live. Like religion, they give life a character of transcendence. Some people say that the arts and letters are not useful because they do not give us food to survive, nor do they increase production or services such as science and technology. However, they provide a necessary quality of life. They ask us vital questions: Where are you? Where do you come from and where are you going? What’s your horizon? What should you leave behind? They are generators of meaning and meaning for our lives: What does your life mean? Why and why do you do what you’re up to? Why do you live this way and not someone else’s? What would life be without music and without poetry?
In particular, philosophy (without adjectives that deform it) can help unmask and combat discourses or practices that lead to the dehumanization or annihilation of the human being. Philosophy can give us moral food that helps us survive with joy and quality, so that people and human groups will not extinguish or eliminate each other, even if there is a technical capacity to do so. If there is no sense to live, it is easy for war, destruction and self-destruction or sterilization to come.

Rething society to contribute
to the humanization of our reality
Democracy is not a perfect system of government, but it allows individual freedoms to be enjoyed and promotes life in society without denying the dignity of each person. At the same time that it recognizes us equal before the law, it allows us to live in freedom, to undertake, to decide, to choose… Education and philosophy should help shape democratic citizens. Philosophy invites us to think, to know oneself, to find out the best way to live in society. Philosophy must promote cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, strength and temperance) and social virtues (dialogue, tolerance, solidarity, search for the common good, subsidiarity) that provide us with the basis for a democratic society.
It is not enough to say the words or wish to increase the values, but it is necessary to analyze what they mean and see when they are present or absent in history. Where there is no freedom of thought, dictatorships are installed. To avoid this, philosophy should be implemented in all classrooms to teach us how to think, know each other, and rething the society in which we live. Education can serve to strengthen a dictatorship or to promote freedom. If it promotes dialogue and freedom of thought, there will be democracy; but if it nullifies creativity and fosters uniformity, it will favor dictatorships.

Individuals need society, but society needs to be rethrated by citizens so that it can be transformed and not rented. Thought is not exercised en masse but individually. We live in a group, a family, a society, but we think of a singular. And after thinking you have to express, name, dialogue. Names, ideas, and words have meanings that derive from previous thought. On the other hand, there is a danger of believing that the abundance of words, names and reports denotes greater wisdom. It’s not always like that. Nor does the abundance of wealth guarantee the quality of people. It is intended to possess wealth, information, relationships, ideas to master. It often matters more to be right and impose it than to seek the truth. Official speeches are often woven with lies or half-truths.
Whoever blindly identifies with his ideas does not admit that there are others, nor does he tolerate being questioned by his own. Then, in the absence of dialogue and opinion, without any discussion, fanaticism or superstition arises. There would only be the possibility that art, humor, philosophy will make their sensible criticisms to unmask lies. Now, for that you have to have the desire to seek the truth. It is up to philosophy to awaken the hunger for truth, the desire for its quest, even if it involves effort, to swim against current, pain and struggle in the slow process to ascend until we observe new horizons.

Places to rething reality
to improve society
Pragmatics with utilitarian eagerness say that philosophy “is useless” and that only changes come by action and not by thought. We can add to claim the service of philosophy that it “should not serve or be a slave” to anyone in particular. When she is chained and marked with a sign of belonging and is awarded an owner, to an established power, she becomes a simple servile instrument of doctrinal propaganda, but ceases to be “philosophy” (friend of truth). This does not mean that it must be rejected by the institutions. If someone wanted to improve the thinking and quality of values in an institution or society, he should ally himself with philosophy without gag to detect traps and lies, and be able to innovate with the guidance of truth.
Therefore, let yourself be allowed to enter philosophy in churches and seminaries, universities, congresses, schools, homes, private academies, theaters, squares and streets. It must be a free philosophy with no nicknames. Otherwise, we already know what happens: in free-market capitalist countries, philosophy is absent because it produces nothing to sell; in socialist regimes of strict control, philosophy is present everywhere to indoctrinate. In both cases, she loses her nature and her role: to serve the truth, to teach to think, and to question everything.
It would be desirable for philosophy to have its chair in the classroom and to walk freely through the streets. You can live without philosophy and have no need to think, walk in lies and not desire the truth, but the citizens of that society will have a worse quality of life. Being attentive to people’s problems and expressing them is important, as Socrates did. Rething society, changing laws, crafting an idea of the state based on justice, as Plato did, is also important. A society that does not rethink itself is doomed to barbarism and can become a cave of thieves. Philosophy allows citizens to think about rethlying a civilized society. Philosophy should not be a guest or passing passerby, nor is it an illustrious tourist. She is a necessary Teacher who can guide teachers, rulers, legislators, doctors, workers, parents. I wish it could be installed in our homes, schools, hospitals, factories, offices, squares and streets.

Language and thought:
identity and belonging
Thought needs expression of it, and is done through the vehicle of oral, written and audiovisual language. Language without logical and understandable thinking is verborrea. Thought without a proper means of expression becomes sterile. Often, you will need to speak multiple languages or have different codes in order to understand each other. Other times it will be necessary to interpret the spirit of a text and what is meant by a word.
Not everyone understands the same thing when the word “democracy” is said; not all politicians interpret the concept of nation, sovereignty, state, republic, etc. equally. Psychologists have various theories about personality development. The expression of essences and identities requires naming, but the meaning of them has some ambiguity that needs to be clarified to initiate sincere and honest dialogue. Otherwise, speeches become monologues of the deaf, and the meaning of words is confused.
It can also happen that multiple names apply to the same individual identity. Thus we have that the same person is called as companion, worker, lord, comrade, cigar, gentleman, producer, consumer, citizen, individual, person… Then the questioned person asks: Who am I? How do I identify myself? How does this society I belong to consider me?
It will not be easy to deduce a clear answer to these questions, but words have meaning that give diverse nuances to the reality they express. There are no equal or equivalent synonyms.
At other times, language becomes lying and contradictory. It’s the worst thing that can happen with words. If someone calls what is clear dark, it is a tragedy for reason or a visual illness. If someone confuses red with green, it’s a colorblind. However, there are those who strive to confuse by manipulating the language and meaning of words. Confusion and lies in language undermine human reason and trust, ruin societies, and degrade a person’s values. In the following examples we will see the results of such pests.
The manager of a Swedish steel company proposed in his annual programmatic discourse that changes needed to be made to produce more and reduce air pollution. However, it continued with the same paradigm in personnel management and machine maintenance. Continuity and inertia were obvious, although discourse had led to change. The end result was workers’ unrest, declining production and increased environmental pollution.
A university rector, after ten years of operation, proposed changing the statutes, regulations and laws as old-fashioned and reflecting only the vision of the professors who had created that university. To this end, the rector set up a commission to revise the old statutes and draft the new ones. However, that commission consisted of only ten per cent of the teachers of the cloister, without considering the support of external lawyers, specialists, student representatives, administrative, etc. The end result was some changes in the arrangement of numbers and parameters in the statutes, but the spirit of them continued. As a result, a significant number of students and teachers abandoned this educational project.

Plurality and unity in language
Although territorial, political, linguistic and cultural unity can foster the cohesion of a group and a nation, uniformity does not always express communion of ideals. There can be plurality of languages in the same nation or federation of states, and preserve these indissoluble social and political unity through various cordial and rational mechanisms.
The plurality of languages mixed with pride, envy and selfishness produces babel’s confusion. The result was division and separation, each group according to their language and ideas, with reciprocal hatred. However, the diversity of languages in the midst of harmony and harmony enables mutual understanding, mutual love and the unity of all. This cosmic harmony is typical of the action of the Spirit at Pentecost. Love is always a source of unity and understanding.
It’s not the same uniformity as unity. Uniformity responds to the interests of the wearer who puts or designs the uniform. And whoever gives away the uniform sets the rules for the parade. Any military, educational, business, partisan, union, social, political uniformity… it is designed for a supreme command to direct external movements. However, unity springs rather from within people (from the plurality of individuals with their own personality), is imposed not by decree but by voluntary adherence and by group synergy. Unity requires dialogue, humility and condescension, integrity of life, acceptance of the different and the weak.
Unity requires asceticism. For this reason, the ancient monks (mónachos) retreated to the desert (air) to seek the integrity of the heart and unity in the spirit. Even if each lived in solitude and were physically separated, they maintained spiritual unity and gathered to dialogue, receive, or give counsel, accompany, and help each other through difficult times. Achieving family and social unity also requires exercise, asceticism, loneliness and encounter, reflection and dialogue.

Thinking about what you want to do with one’s life and be able to decide it is a right of every human person, capable of service to others through his responsible and free decision.
Rething and being able to transform the society in which we live is a demand, a duty and a right of every citizen. Human beings are built and humanized within a society, and society is improved by the contribution of every person who contributes with his reason, his work and his goodness to leave the world better than as he found when he came to him.
Family, school, university, public life are places to rethly how to improve people’s lives and how to transform society to become more human. The love of truth and wisdom is the heritage of every person and should be able to express and exercise it anywhere.
The expression of thought needs proper and truthful language. Ambiguity, lying, confusion, contradiction, double meaning and lack of dialogue impede the development of fruitful and personal thought. A person without self-thinking and a society without philosophy are focused on unproductive routine and sterile repetition. They will suffer personal identity and social belonging. Ω

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