Apr 27, 2007

Tensions on the surface

I turned on the television yesterday night and was caught into some events that are not very unexpected, but still managed to surprise me. Estonian way of solving the Bronze soldier problem had another backlash and young Russians came to the streets to burn kiosks, break shop windows and throw police with stones and bottles.

Though the events took place in quite a limited area in Tallinns’ center, you got an impression from the TV as if a war had broken down. The news-lady seemed to be nervous, gave some very anxious information and asked such questions from minister of internal affairs, which made the situation seem even worse. TV lady: “But the turmoil has spread around the center. Don’t you think it could spread all around Estonia?” And the cameras show drunk youngsters wandering around the center, a kiosk burning and trash on the streets.

Could it spread outside Tallinn? Hell yes it could, when you guys are showing in national television as if a war has broken down and ask provocative questions, which make the situation seem even worse. The commentators showed no sign of trying to understand why this is happening, they labeled youngsters merely as vandals and set Estonians against Russians. Is this the objective projection of the reality and journalists are just doing their job? Or does media has also some other responsibility and “objective projection” is sometimes just not the best choice? Or at least would urgently need some balancing comments.

I’m so angry right now that I’m not making many suggestions, but instead blaming people who I feel have certain responsibility, which they have abused. I truly apologize, I might be also deepening the problem myself (emotions have the tendency to do that), but I don’t want to watch this silently and accept if I feel it’s just not right.

We have Russians here in Estonia and they don’t feel very much appreciated right now. They truly feel that their voice isn’t heard and their rights have been violated (and if not all feel this way then obviously a big part of them). It doesn’t matter whether it has been caused by the media and Russian government propaganda or does it also have some objective truth in it. It’s how people perceive the situation, so we can’t ignore it by just saying: “It’s not the truth, we actually like Russians, they have just misunderstood us!”

I hate to see that we build fences in the center, hide the information from public, start working with highly sensitive issues in the dawn and hope that it will all calm down. Even if it does in physical level, people go home and the monument will be taken to another place, the society will be more split. Russians vs Estonians.

I’m not saying that little Estonia should just do what big and almighty Russia expects us to do and that we should be ignoring the problem. No, we have to deal with problems, but we should do it with dignity. Right now I see a big ego-fight, just proving that we can do whatever we want on our own territory and we don’t care about Russian propaganda. By using force we make it worse. We should use the situation to unite the society, to start a dialogue with Estonian Russians. We are not in a rush, we have to find an agreement that suits the whole society, at least also a large part of the minority.

Right now it seems as if the youngsters who are rioting on the streets of Tallinn are the really bad ones. To be honest - I would be there too if I’d truly believe that no-one really cares about my opinion and there is no other way to make my voice heard when to join my fellows and go trouble making on the streets. I’m young and the feeling of doing something important is just interesting. Yes, maybe it’s illegal, but it’s exciting, makes my blood go around and after all – it seems justified, because I feel how the government is acting the same way by violating my rights. You don’t have to be exactly an expert to understand that simple emotions of an individual are sometimes far more important than all international and national laws.

I have to admit that so far the problem has seemed to be a bit far away. Something not very important, because after all – we are talking about some statue in the center, it can’t be that big thing?!? I even didn’t have strong opinion about it, because I just didn’t get the point. After all – the problem was mainly raised by Estonian media, later tripled by Russian and international media, the real issue was really never that big. Come on – all Estonia is full of such statues, we have several in Tartu!

But now I see that the issue is raising the tensions hidden in Estonian society. We have been talking about integration, we have programs to integrate Russians into our society, but seems that the issue hasn’t been really understood. You can say that you have good intentions, give money for some language programs, make some projects and campaigns, but when you think that solving an sensitive and emotional problem by showing your power and authority, I think you haven’t been dealing with the issue with good-will and sincere intentions.

I’m not proud of the macho-mentality Estonians are showing. I’m not eagerly waiting for Estonians self-centered reactions that follow tonights events. I’d like to admire our politicians for making responsible and mature decisions, right now I’m just afraid to hear another moralizing lecture from them: “Bad-bad vandals!” Damnit, I really like Estonia, we are a great country, but right now I’m just ashamed.

I’m not justifying violence. I’m convinced it deepens the problems, not solves them. The question is – who should be the mature side, who should be showing example in Estonian society?

And in the news I can hear again: “Don’t worry people, by the morning the situation has calmed down!” Yes, police does their job, they will calm the situation down. But short-sigthed solutions just aren’t enough, I want to see politicians with long-term vision.

Apr 19, 2007

The meaning of it all

Everybody is looking for the meaning of life. Something, that would give it all some sense. Why are we doing things? We are all going to die anyway, what does it matter then what we do?

All the big leaders in the worlds have died, we can now talk about them, but it doesn’t really seem, that they had some influence. Times and people who have come after them have changed it all. All the past sufferings have ended and past joys as well, intelligence and evil has died with people and it’s not in this world anymore. So how does it matter anyway how I live my life, do I cause joy or pain and do I try to change something or waste my life.

The truth is that our lives will end and no matter how many people we are able to help, the world still goes on and new generations with new needs come without gaining anything from our work. Or if they do (for example some medical or technical innovation) does it make new generations really happier or they will just have a different environment for the same human challenges we’ve had already for thousands of years? Is it pointless even to try?

I’ve recently talked to several people, who challenge my understanding about each one of us should do something to improve the world. They tell me, that really, there is no difference between good and bad, because it all will end. Or – whatever you do with your life it will only influence a very small, tiny part of the world (if it does more today, then put it in the perspective of history), so you will give up as soon as you realize how pointless your striving really is.

So should we really seek for trying to change the world? Isn’t the thought a bit too overwhelming, so that it’s inevitable that at one point we’ll arrive to a conclusion, that we’ve wasted our lives trying to change something, which is actually out of our reach? And does it justify of giving up?

I’ve found my needed answer from the conclusion, that each one of us has an individual responsibility over our own lives. We all have our individual talents, we meet different people during our days, we come across unique situations and challenges. And we have responsibility over what reaches our reality and what we do with our talents. According to my understanding you don’t have to change the world as a planet or the flow of universal history in history books (is there such thing?), but the world as your reality. You have influence over it and it’s not anything too overwhelming or elusive. Some of us have talents for influencing big masses, some are relators in more intimate environment. But we all have abilities to improve our surroundings. The though about all of us trying to do it is inspiring.

Still – why it matters, that we give our best in our reality? It will still end. Yes, what’s the point of living? I don’t even pretend to be the one with answers, I can only demonstrate my stupididty by answering such fundamental questions with ease. But to maintain my joy and zest of life, I need to have some ground on which to rely my efforts in this world. So my ground is, that the meaning of life is living my life the way I was meant to live it. And I think that we all have our specific meaning in the world, depending of our talents, environment etc.

Right now, when sitting behind the computer in this beautiful morning, I feel that people tend to abuse their ability to think. They spend their days wondering over the meaning of life, when they should actually live it. They get depressed, because they are not sure, why they are doing things, then actually the meaning is exactly doing it. Why to overanalyse everything and drain yourself out of energy by searching desperately some ultimate meaning? Why can’t the meaning be the most simple thing and the biggest challenge is to accept that? Isn’t life actually very simple and easy, but we tend to see complexities in the biggest clarity?

To accept, act and enjoy.

Apr 16, 2007

For the brilliant tomorrow

Today has been the weirdest day I’ve had a long time. I say “weird” because I’m an Estonian and I have limited skills of using words describing emotions. Otherwise I’d probably choose some other word, but “weird” more or less summarises everything.

Where do the most interesting adventures come from? Yes, right – people! Not only easy and good lessons come from them, but also those that make you feel so bad about yourself, that you think: “Will I ever be a GOOD person I want to be?”

Among other things I realized today that taking time for your friends is a must-do. It might sound extremely funny, but for me it was a discovery – they really want that! I had to be reminded to just call and ask my friends out or do some other ordinary things that people do to maintain the contact. Yes, friends give you energy, I will prioritize my important ones more.

But fortunately also good lessons come from people. I’m happy to meet people who surprise me and make me stretch my brain with new questions.

But what next? Next is – ofcourse – tomorrow! And what will happen tomorrow is partly determined by my previous experiences, habitpatterns and genes, but mainly about my bravery. Yes, bravery. Just dare, though it might require taking the risk of seeming stupid and failing bad, maybe even risk your good name in the eyes of some, but without daring life just doesn’t make sense.

I want to celebrate the beautiful TODAY by deciding something for tomorrow.

Dare more.

A quote for today from Robin Sharma:

So make tomorrow special. No, make it ridiculously great. Breathtakingly brilliant. A piece of art you can tell your grandkids about. Just amazing what one can do in a day. To be what we are meant to be.”

Apr 14, 2007

Make Estonians smile

Estonians don’t smile in a public place, especially for strangers. That's a wide-spread understanding. To make your life more interesting - and to improve your surroundings - do some experiments to challenge this notion.

If you have a car, it’s easy. Every time you stop behind the traffic light, look at your right and smile the person who has stopped next to you. If you think that smiling might be perceived as too agressive, just look optimistic. And a miracle will happen! People will lighten up! Yes, it’s true, Estonians will start to smile in the public place and they actually do make a human connection with you. Yesterday I managed to make the world a better place for one old man, who was probably stunned because he was noticed by a young girl. But what a beautiful smile he had!

Another option for car-users is to go to a car-wash. I’m not sure what actually happened today, but an Estonian guy let me pass him in the queue and looked as if he had met a old friend then doing it. All I did was I stepped outside of the car and was thinking about some good stuff, he thought I was smiling to him and suddenly I was very close to find out, how Estonians get hooked up in the super-markets, post-offices or other random places with very limited time to connect. I can’t tell how the smiling-thing would have worked on a woman, but positive impressions shared with your co-Estonians can really have interesting consequences.

But anyway if you don’t have a car, you still can make some nice experiments. Go to a super-market and act polite. Between the food-shells there isn’t much room, so when someone comes with a big food-cart, step politely aside, smile and let the person pass. You will be stunned about the effect! Today a woman was actually looking confused when I gave her enough room to act and didn’t try to crab things to be the first. The key here is to pay attention, not to rush around, focused on your target food-article, but to notice people around you and give them the little piece of polite attention they need. It’s the most rewarding experimenting I’ve recently tried.

This is now a bit off-topic, but supermarkets are my favourite places, when I’m in the mood of observing people. Quite often there are couples, who have obviously “lost it”. You can just feel the lack of energy in their presence, they look tired and joyless, their children look as if they didn’t belong there. I wonder if normal people turn to energy-vampires because they just don’t fit together or they have too big egos? I think mainly the problems are about ego-fight, so the question is – should it be possible to be together with anyone and there’s no such things as “perfect match” and “solemate”? So you can see how deep philosophical places are actually supermarkets. I’ve said recently, that Maksimarket is the next big thing – I might have been right!:)

Visit supermarkets with eyes wide open and become human-soul expert...or just use the chance to create more positive vibrations in the world.

Apr 13, 2007

Inside the slaughterhouse

Watch this film only if you need more reasons to reduce the amounts of meat in your everyday menu. Though some of the cases shown in the film are in reality exception, but are here generalised over the whole and there are some exaggerations, but it's still something you would better not know, equals with personalising your sausage.

Depressed over bad things vs energized over helping to fix

I live in my current house in Tartu already for four years. My appartment is upstairs and downstairs lives an old alcoholic. He is spending most of his time in another dimension and the rest of the time walking between the nearby shop and home to bring another round of “medicine”. As we have separate entrances we meet rarely and I’m mainly aware of his existence, when he has a bad day and he turns off the water in the whole house or is having an accordion party with friends.

But he has a cat and a dog. Or it would be fair to say: he had a cat, because for the moment the cat has multiplied several times. Every once in a while there are suddenly little wild kittens gazing at me from the bush-shadow, hungry, dirty, scared and most probably dead when winter arrives. Just now I came home and found a pair of big eyes looking at me with only one question: “Food? FOOOD??” When I said “kiss-kiss-kiss” (sound that Estonians make to attract cats), his two siblings also appeared from somewhere and ran towards me with an impression of lunatics.

The dog seems to be at the first glance the most annoying creature you’ve ever seen. He is so dirty, that his coat isn’t made of separate hairs, but of greasy and shaggy lumps. He barks at you with a cowardly impression, ready to jump to the bush, each time you come home. Sometimes when it’s dark and he manages to take you by surpirse, he feels your temporary fright and bites you from the ankle. You don’t see his eyes, because they are covered with junks made of hairs, but you can imagine, that his deep stupidity, deep even for a dog, is showing there.

But when you look at him more closely you understand, that the dog is just extremely frustrated. He is so hungry that he doesn’t know what to bark to make his voice heard, he feels uncomfortable in his coat full of fleas, excrements and his masters saliva, he is forgotten outside when the rain is freezing and he is beaten for random reasons, so he is not sure what to expect.

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals. Their sufferings touch me and it’s hard for me to resist “saving them”. Last year I saw two kittens of the neighbors mother-cat growing bigger and bigger and the winter got closer and closer. I knew they are soon going to die, but I didn’t want to take the responsibility over them. But when the first autumn-winter storms had arrived, I spent 2 hours trying to catch these wild cats and when I finally did we lived 3 weeks together with the most unfriendly creatures I’ve shared my apparment with. They were terrified by people, shit under the bathtub, cried all the time and did every other thing to make me have serious second-thoughts about if “saving them” was a good idea. Finally we found new masters for them and they turned out to be the most loyal and trusting creatures as if they knew they were saved from death. One is now living at my parents-place and is purring so often and loud, that I can’t imagine he is the same animal who used to bite me when I touched him.

Now I don’t know what to do. I can’t be ignorant when I see potential suffering right in front of my eyes, but at the same time I don’t have enough resources to take responsibility over each error I see in the world. I will move from here very soon and I know there is nobody who would care if these three fellows will die a slow death or live a normal pet life. And in the next place where I’ll live I will meet similar sufferings. I know there are people who advise me to be ignorant, because my little deeds won’t change anything in the big picture. They are right, as long as I havn’t made this thing my life mission. And becoming a animal saviour isn’t my mission.

But sinder, this irresponsiblity really energizes me and makes me ask: “If not me, then who?” After all only limited events and situations ever reach my reality and if I’m always ignoring them with the reference to the world full of sufferings, I’m not only deepening the problem, but also keeping myself away from experiencing the little wonders that come from doing good. I guess it’s hard to compare the special powerful feeling you get from doing selfless good with anything.

Additional story connected with the dog: The dog is my leadership experience every day. First I tried the strategy of getting mad: every time I met him I told him that he should better get lost, before I get really angry. Well, he didn’t and it seemed that he got some extra power from my frustration. I decided I won’t be ruled by a dog and I don’t want to feel taunted every time I come home. So I tried another strategy, which was “look confident and ignore”. I’ve been improving this strategy ever since and learn something new every time I meet him. Just ignoring isn’t enough, there are some extra tricks you have to use to make him also respect you. So my lesson of not hating him, but instead accepting and trying to understand has really started to produce some results.