Erenlai - Identity and Self-Realization 認同感與自我實現
Identity and Self-Realization 認同感與自我實現

Identity and Self-Realization 認同感與自我實現

 

 

Where do I come from? Where do I go?... These contributions offer tools to explore the complexities of identity, overcome contradictions and recognize one’s true self.

你的文化認同感很薄弱嗎?這裡的文章帶領你探索認同感的建立、矛盾的根源與自我意義的覺察。

 

 

Monday, 22 October 2007

Of Blood and Flesh

"Mens sana in corpore sano"
“A healthy mind in a healthy body”

This quotation of Juvenal emphasizes the importance of health and, most of all the balance between mind and body. That’s also why, in the continuation of a tradition inherited from the ancient Greeks, sport still occupies a great place in education and is valued as the best way to keep a healthy body.

Nevertheless, after watching my first rugby match for the World Cup, which takes place in France this year, I am not sure that sport is only a matter of health. Indeed, I was struck by the ‘violence’ and the obvious hardships the rugby players have to endure. Rugby may not be as bestial as boxing but when the camera come close to the faces and the scrums, you can see blood, sweat, scars, bandages, tired looks and saliva. There is no doubt that those sculpted bodies are roughly handled, that their stamina is tested. Some of you might know that the French rugby team is also famous for posing in an annual calendar which celebrates them as the “Gods of the Stadium” in reference to the Athletes of the Olympics in Greece. The reference is not only about their performance on the field, the photos of the calendar also follow the tradition of the classical representations of athletes’ nude and very fit bodies.

Sport is also one of the best ways to express one’s existence as a body. Florence Ayisi, a Cameroonian woman director, draws an indirect link between the ways sport can liberate bodies and free minds. Her documentary film, Zanzibar Soccer Queens, is about a female soccer team in Zanzibar called the ‘Women fighters.’ As 90% of the population in Zanzibar is Muslim, those women are not really encouraged to devote themselves to their soccer passion. Most of them, once married, are forbidden to play again. For example. the director interviews a female Koran school teacher who criticizes women soccer players for they show too much ‘nudity’ by wearing short-pants and short sleeves. In some kind of way, the identity of these womens’ bodies is denied, here mostly for religious purposes. The film’s portrait of Amina, a former soccer player, is also very eloquent on this subject: after getting married, her husband forbade her to play soccer as she would just be a housewife and stay at home. In that perspective, Amina’s body confined to the secret of the house is opposed to the soccer players’ ones exercising, running, sweating on the field.

Some love their body, sometimes in a very narcissistic way that can be excessive. Others hate their body, as it might not always comply with one’s wishes, and even might be seen as a handicap. But we should still cherish our body, no matter the pain and the disgust it can sometimes provoke, for it is not only the receptacle of our mind but also our most tangible link to humanity.

Zanzibar Soccer Queens website


Thursday, 18 October 2007

Overcoming Handicaps

Which one of us has no handicap? Which one of us can say that he or she enjoys the full potential that nature has allotted to us? We all have to recognize limitations in what we can accomplish, and recognizing our limitations is part of the process of growing and maturing as a person.
 
At the same time, it is true that some of us are more severely impaired and that the rest of us recognize that these people are “handicapped”, that they cannot live a normal existence such as organized by social rules and conditions. Social progress is recognized by the way laws, regulations and norms take special care of handicapped, show respect for their special burden, provide them with special assistance and care. Of course, laws are not enough: sometimes, social conditions are very much advanced but overall coldness and indifference make handicapped people’s life hard. In other contexts, the law system may not be so developed, but family, friends and neighbors surround handicapped people with affection and comfort. Social protection and personal care must progress together!
 
This issue has for main feature the testimony of Bob Ronald. He is a special person in Taiwan, as he is established here since fifty years and has been instrumental in founding one of the prominent association dedicated to handicapped people, “Deshandicap.” Here he tells us his life story in simple and moving words, and reflects upon it with much wisdom and sense of humor. His testimony is furthered by the other interviews and features that we reproduce here.
 
The central point of our issue is very clear: by sharing stories about how they deal with their problems, handicapped people have much to tell us about ourselves: they tell us what are our difficulties and successes in dealing with other peoples; they help us to recognize our own handicaps and to accept them; they tell us how we can live life to the fullest within the limitations that are ours. They tell each of us and the society in general how to grow in humaneness.
For helping us in such a way, they deserve our admiration and gratitude. Or, to put it in a better way: when each one of us is honest about his or hew own handicaps as well as on his or her reasons for loving life , we have to mutually express one to another our admiration and our gratitude…

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Saturday, 29 September 2007

Do not let your tee-shirt do the talking for you

The tee-shirts we wear often bear the name of a brand or a city, or else they offer to the people who happen to cross our path some words of wisdom or derision. This often makes me think about an old professor I often met, more than twenty years ago now.

He used to teach philosophy, and, as you can expect, he was not a big fan of that line of clothes. However, what was interesting was the reason he gave for this dislike, a reason worthy of a philosopher. His point was not about aesthetics or decorum, it was not even about the content of the inscriptions adorning our tee-shirts. No, what he did not like about “tee-shirts that know how to speak’ as he used to say was simply the fact that they were speaking at all. Doing so, they were speaking on behalf of the one who was wearing them. Even if the tee-shirts were saying the most beautiful things in the world, this was in no way an excuse. He preferred to listen to the bearer. The one making his tee-shirt speak, he used to say, frees himself from the duty to speak from the center of his own self. For sure, he was a philosopher, and nobody takes philosophers seriously, but his viewpoint might be worth noting anyway.
We often speak about making a “fashion statement”, and, curiously, the expression is rather a laudatory one. By what we wear we are supposed to say something about ourselves. It seems to me that making a fashion statement amounts to wearing a mask and pretending that this mask is my real face. Making a fashion statement is rarely conducive to dialogue. Tee-shirts or other clothes may have a mouth but, for sure, they are deprived of ears.
Looking a « tee-shirts that know how to speak » makes me think of the sentence of another philosopher, a Roman this time and an Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. He says somewhere that the thoughts that occupy our soul are ultimately reflected on our face, and also that our personal worth eventually depends upon the worth of the thoughts that we nurture: people who nurture thoughts of a low nature will finally be worth very little; people who direct their heart towards elevated thoughts will see that their personal value is likewise exalted.
If Marcus Aurelius is right, then let us be careful about what we are truly saying and doing by letting our clothes speak on our behalf. By identifying ourselves, consciously or not, to what our tee-shirts have to say, we might finally get a face as expressive as an old shirt and to be worth as much as the tee-shirt we bought at a discount on the corner of a street.

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Thursday, 27 September 2007

Happiness Here and Now!

Happiness is life lived as well as possible in the here and now; not living for the future, or yearning for the past or complaining of the present, but taking what life offers at this moment and making the most of it.

Life is not easy. What we need is conviction that it is worth living. We all need common sense, which is the ability to see the things of life as they actually are and to take the necessary steps that the facts dictate in a way that doesn’t ignore the parts of life we don’t want to see or shy away from the efforts that we must courageously make.

To live with common sense is one of the keys to contentment, because it is founded on reality, achieved through reasonable effort and brings the satisfaction that comes from trying hard even when efforts fail.

More Ronald’s Rules

Rule Four. Agree to live with what you cannot avoid.
Rule Five. Look for the good in it.
Rule Six. Look for some means to exploit that good.

We did not choose or desire the difficult circumstances of our lives, but now that we have to face them we are stuck with them. If we wish to continue to find contentment in our lives then we must find ways to live with them.

This world of ours is a multi-colored, multi-experienced world of blacks and whites and blues and greens. In the ups and downs of life, we sometimes see only the blacks or only the whites or want only the blues and will have nothing to do with the greens or the reds. Because we see only the white doesn’t mean there is no black, or because we want only the blue then we can avoid the green and red. We have to live with all the colors.

We need to find our contentment and plot our course in the world just as it is, knowing that there are some things we can change and many that we cannot.

I hate it when strangers think that because I am disabled I need cheering up. “Don’t worry,” they say, “you’ll be just like new in no time.” They just don’t know what they are talking about. I know fully well that my disability is permanent and the limitations are even increasing with age.

Some people, of course, are more enlightened and I have to listen to solemn exhortations that always end something like this: “Don’t look at all the things you can’t do any more, but at all the things you still can do. Count your blessings, man.”

Happiness does not depend on the circumstances, but on what we do with the circumstances. We don’t have to love or like our disabilities. Hate them all you want, but don’t let them spoil your life. It is possible to live at peace with oneself even when disabilities are great. It is possible to attain meaningful goals even when one is hampered by disabilities.

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Did you know happiness could be quantified?

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Thursday, 27 September 2007

T恤會說話

穿T恤,我們也穿出個人自我風格、一個群體的表徵,或是對一個城市的認同。有時,我們也會看到T恤與人幽默對話,或與你展開辯論…我常想起一位老先生,一位二十年前認識的人。他是一位哲學教授,並且正如你猜想的,他不喜歡T恤這種款式的衣服。不過他不喜歡的原因令我驚訝不已,的確是哲學家給的理由。他不喜歡並不是因為T恤缺乏美感,或是因為他討厭T恤向世界宣告的內容。都不是,他說他不喜歡「會說話」的T恤(他是這麼說的),是因為T恤「說話」的同時,取代了穿著它們的人們。
T恤能說出世界上最美的字句,沒有人能說不是。這位哲學教授說他比較喜歡聽衣主的聲音,而衣主就這麼躲在「宣告」的衣服後面,豁免發言權,逐日忘了什麼是從心靈深處說出話來。沒錯!他是一位哲學家,雖然沒人真正看重哲學家的話,但他還是提出了一個有意思的論點…
英語常使用一個用語,叫做「時尚聲明」(Fashion Statement),我們穿什麼衣,就證明我們是怎樣的人。這樣的用詞一般來說有抬舉之意,時尚聲明顯示出穿著品味與個人特質。果真如此嗎?我覺得如果讓衣服為我們代言,我們就像戴上面具,不給自己說出話以及與他人進入對話的機會。T恤或是其他衣服即使能代表我們的口,但它們一定沒有耳朵…
「會說話」的T恤還讓我想起一個句子,另外一位哲學家說過的話,他是羅馬帝國皇帝。他叫做馬克.奧列里(Marc-Aurèle),西元第二世紀人。他認為出自我們靈魂的思想會反映在我們的臉孔上,同時指出我們的個人價值取決於滋養思想的價值:吸取低養分的思想,個人價值相對較低;吸取高養分的思想,將使我們獲取較高的個人價值。如果他說得對,請在展示會說話的衣服時,注意自己說的話。如果他所說不成立的話,反過來說人應該會不自覺地認同T恤說的話,有一張和T恤一樣傳神的臉孔,我們的價值感同我們穿著的T恤差不多高,大拍賣時在街角買的T恤…

附加的多媒體:
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Thursday, 27 September 2007

Love taught me not to love

In his article Falling In and Out of Love, Bob discusses love, or, better, about how to control one’s feeling… French literature gives us famous examples of thwarted loves due to State reasons (’Berenice’ by Racine) or moral necessities (’The Princess of Cleves’ by Madame de Lafayette). In each case, love does not triumph at the end but has to be sacrificed in the name of what must transcend the only selfish and individual desire or feeling… They all tell stories of renouncement; fewer are the stories that describe the pain felt after breaking up.

Why is it so difficult to let go a lost love and especially a love that one knows full well it is not suitable? Proust gives his own explanation of that phenomenon: “Talking about love, it is easier to renounce a feeling than to give up a habit” (’La Prisonniere’). Indeed, the narrator in the book, despite thinking for a long time about breaking up with his lover, once she’s gone before his call, just feels a great emptiness and the irresistible desire to go after her…

In ’The Dangerous Liaisons’, Madame de Tourvel just dies after receiving the famous letter sent by Valmont but dictated by la Marquise de Merteuil, “Angel, this is not my fault…” Indeed, when a relationship ends, whose fault should it be? Who should bear the responsibility? At least one should know that people are not just here to do their bidding.

The end of a love relationship is like a small death. In French, we are used to saying “to do the mourning of a relationship” to describe the fact that someone has to come to terms with having split up. Indeed, it is not only the loss of the loved one that makes the situation so painful but also the loss of the comfort, the reassuring sensation of not being alone to face and discover the world…


Thursday, 27 September 2007

Looking For Luck

Some people seem to have good luck all the time. Everything they put their hands to succeeds. They win more than they lose in card games. They always seem to end up with winning tickets in lottery draws. They pick the bingo cards that have the winning numbers. They always seem to come away from casinos with a few jackpots. Other people never seem to have any good luck at all. Something always happens to spoil their day, they seldom get good hands in card games, their lottery tickets never win prizes and they are almost sure to lose in any casino they enter.

Many people carry lucky charms. Some athletes, for instance, insist on wearing the hat or some other object that they wore the first time they won. It is supposed to bring them good luck. Others pin their hopes on four-leaf clovers, rabbit feet or horseshoes. What they don’t realize is that these three kinds of lucky charms that they carry are not really the lucky items they think they are. They are only replicas that don’t necessarily bring with them the original luck.

Take the four-leaf clover for instance. It originally was only thought to bring good luck to the person who found it, especially if it was found accidentally. Was your four-leaf clover found accidentally and did its luck pass on to you when you acquired it?

The use of a rabbit foot as a good luck charm comes from the hoodoo tradition of spiritual-based natural magic brought to the United States by slaves from western Africa. However, there are controversies about its efficacy. Some experts say that it must be the left hind leg of the rabbit. Others add that the rabbit must have been shot or killed in a cemetery, perhaps by a silver bullet and the death must have occurred in the light of a full moon or a new moon or on a rainy Friday night or on Friday the 13th. So what guarantee is there that your rabbit foot meets any of these conditions? I am reminded of the remark attributed to the humorist R. E. Shay: “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.”

Not every horseshoe brings good luck. According to some traditions, the horseshoe should actually first have been used on a horse and then found, not purchased, and put where it can be touched. Furthermore, the luck belongs only to the person who found it and no one else. Moreover, some claim that the luck will drain out of the ends if the horseshoe is put upside down. So, what about your horseshoe?

What is luck, anyway? Is it a commodity that can be bought or some good fortune that is attracted by a charm? The implication in saying “he is just lucky” is that his good luck did not come about because of what he did, but happened by chance in spite of what he did. “He is just unlucky” means that in spite of his efforts and good will, something unexpected and unintended intervened to deprive him of what he wanted. If a brick falls from the top of a building, it is a purely chance encounter and its path will not be deflected if the person standing beneath it is carrying a rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover. But on the other hand, if that person happens to look up in time to step out of the way of the falling brick, then that rabbit foot on his key chain just acquired another layer of credibility.

If good luck is the good things that happen in a person’s favor and bad luck is the bad things that happen not in a person’s favor, then good luck and bad luck are real. But it isn’t because there is some special substance called luck. It only means that the lucky person was at the right place at the right time doing something right (or even doing something wrong for that matter) and the unlucky person was at the wrong place at the wrong time when things happened that were not within his or her control.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe in luck. I do believe that some people seem to have much more luck than others and some people seem to have no luck at all. The former are not to be praised and the latter blamed. That is just the ways things fall into place statistically in this life of ours, lived as it is in a world full of random occurrences beyond our control.

Still at the same time I also believe that sometimes we do create our good luck and are at least partially responsible for our bad luck. The more we expect something to happen, the harder we try and the more often it happens. The more we expect something to fail, the more halfheartedly we try and our expectation becomes true. I have certainly experienced this in my own life. On days when I feel full of confidence and hope, everything seems to go my way, whereas on days when I am depressed and feeling unlucky, nothing seems to go my way.

My mother and her older sister loved in their old age to visit casinos. My aunt, based on past experiences, always went full of confidence that she would win again and she almost always did. My mother on the other seldom won and she went fully expecting to lose again. She would sit for a long time at one of the machines and win next to nothing. Then the moment she left the machine and someone else started playing it would payoff a big jackpot. It was as though the machine knew that my mother had no respect for it and it acted accordingly.

Life is not a casino full of a few winners and many losers depending upon the uncertainties of chance. But in this life of ours we do experience many chance encounters. The really lucky ones are not those who enjoy good luck, but those who pick themselves up after bad luck and keep right on trying.

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Monday, 20 August 2007

Falling In and Out of Love

 

The word love has a broad array of meaning from like or enjoy to affection to passionate sexual embrace. There are things that we love to have around because they interest us or give us pleasure or security. There are people we love because we are related to them or attracted to them or emotionally involved with them. We are expected to love others like we love ourselves, to love our country, to love our enemies, to love our parents and siblings, to love our mate and spouse. In each case the feelings involved are different and the way we behave is different. To love another somehow implies that we give the good of that person priority over other persons and if necessary even over our own benefit or safety. People are willing to sacrifice their lives for the ones they love.

I am expected to love my neighbor, but not to fall in love with him or her. Falling in love means to experience a strong attraction toward another, which creates affection and kindles sexual desire. The folklore of falling in love describes it as an emotional state that tends to curb one’s appetite for food and drink, monopolize one’s mind and imagination to the detriment of attention to study or work. Such a love is often blind in the sense that it tends to ignore or overlook the practicality, plausibility or suitability or even the possibility of fulfillment of such a relationship as when a young student falls in love with a teacher or a woman falls in love with someone who does not return the love or is not free to marry or a fan falls madly in love with a movie star.

Falling in love may be something that everyone hopes to experience someday, but usually a person does not have control over when, how or why it suddenly happens. There is love at first sight, there is love that grows gradually. The harder one looks for it, often the harder it is to find. It just happens, sometimes when least expected. And when it does, happy is the person who finds a reciprocal response in the loved one. Unhappy the one who falls in love with someone in love with another.

Human nature being what it is, most of us fall in love or others fall in love with us, not just once, but many times. Young or old, married or not married, it doesn’t matter. It can happen any time. This means, human nature being what it is, that unless we just blindly follow our feelings with no regard for previous obligations or commitments, that we have also many times had to fall out of love. We are not free to pursue every affection we feel no matter how strong it is.

It is easer to fall in love than to fall out of love. Falling in love just happens without effort on our part. It just happens. Falling out of love doesn’t just happen. We have to make it happen. It depends upon our priorities and the strength of our moral convictions, by how much we are willing to honor and be true to our responsibilities and promises. But the temporary pain and regret of overriding our affection sooner of later is replaced with the calm satisfaction that we did the right thing.

Life is just one long string of surprises, an endless succession of reactions and decisions. Blessed is the person with strong convictions and moral strength. Not only will this keep him or her from making foolish mistakes that hurt others as well as self, it protects the ones he or she rightly loves.

 

Photo by Bendu

Friday, 17 August 2007

Association of Ping-tung Indigenous Culture Education

Pingtung… The educational resources of the Aborigine tribes are becoming scarce. Many schools are threatened with being shut down.
A group of people who could not stand seeing their children lose their right to education have founded a library for aboriginal kids. VUSAM means “to plant the seed of knowledge” in Paiwan language. The association opened various evening-classes for the aboriginal children. They managed to collect books and used computers for the classrooms. Like this, they hope to plant a seed of knowledge in every child.
At present, the Association has already set up about 30 classes. The children can study and they have access to the internet. The parents can concentrate on their work without worrying.
Thanks to these classes, the Association hopes that the cultural gap between cities and aboriginal tribes will reduce in the future and all the aboriginal children have the chance to study!
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www.vuvu.org.tw

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Friday, 27 July 2007

無聊與創造

和我們大人的童年比較起來,現代孩子的生活真是多采多姿,但我們反而常常聽到孩子說「無聊」。您認為這是怎麼一回事呢?

「無聊」有幾種不同的意義,一個人空閒下來,一時不知該做什麼,這時會有「無聊」的感覺,但這種無聊持續下去,結果經常是好事。因為我們平時都被所謂「正經事」佔滿我們的時間,這些「正經事」包含當前流行的休閒活動。人內心的成長,常常在長時間的無聊中才有了質變。我小的時候,因為父母很開明,不只不打不罵,而且給我們很大的自由,我常常覺得沒事做,就躺在房屋後面的木頭地板上,看著屋簷的雨滴或天空的雲朵發呆。因為太無聊了,家裡有什麼閒書都拿來看,比方說三國演義、水滸傳、西廂記…等通行的才子書,不用說都一讀再讀,甚至什麼君子好逑傳、常遇春、薛平貴、靈肉之道、塔裡的女人…等亂七八糟的書、唐詩宋詞、以及魯迅、巴金、狄更斯、雨果、屠格涅夫、托爾斯泰的小說,我也常沈醉其中。我的中文自然就好了起來,不需閱讀運動,也不需老師的推薦。我許多朋友都是這樣在無聊中長大的。孩子不隨時被盯得緊緊的,反而得以自發的學到了許多東西。我長大後,也時常意識到這個道理。例如:我在學校教書做研究時,在常軌中過著忙碌的生活,但是一天過一天,卻難有突破性的進步;反而在無聊的時候,才學會困難的東西。近四十歲時,我的研究工作轉向,而有些較好的成果,便是在一個無聊的暑假中完成的。
這是第一種意義的無聊。這種無聊是好的,它使人心思沈澱,孕育新的可能。第二種無聊是目前孩子口中常說的「無聊」。這句口頭禪,反映的是孩子對生命的倦怠,以及對主流社會的反抗。人的時間被外來的要求佔滿,原來對世界的好奇心便萎縮了,等到偶有空閒,卻不知如何打發。本來每個心智自由的小孩,對於自己下一刻要做什麼,心中都有期待,成長環境的資源再怎麼貧乏,周遭總會有一些東西可以玩,即使沒有現成的遊戲或玩具,自己也可以去創造玩具本身,或創造任何形式的遊戲。但當他的時間不斷被大人塞滿「正經事」之後,他對下一刻的生命失去了期待。當他口中說出「無聊」之時,他表達的是對生命的倦怠,或是對大人價值觀的抗議,此時,成熟的大人應該要誠心地回應這個訊號。
第二種意義的「無聊」是個警燈,警示孩子的處境出了大問題,因為他找不到自己存在的「意義」。接下來的發展有兩種:第一種是平庸化。他逐漸習慣在沒有存在意義的狀態下過日子,而扭曲了生命的價值觀。當他不再要求意義時,他人生的方向便轉移到純粹「維生」,或進一步追求較好的物質生活,最後,只剩下地位與財富對他還有意義。
另一種可能的發展則是反社會或陷入自閉。記得七、八年前發生過一樁悲劇,兩位功課傑出、聰明穎悟的北一女學生,相偕在宜蘭自殺。我讀了朋友轉來的遺書,覺得非常難過。她們認真在思考人生的根本意義,但周遭的社會與她們沒有對話,生命一旦失去意義,那種無聊便只是一片黑暗,是一片永遠的黑暗。於是,兩位早慧的女孩毅然選擇了自殺,用「無知覺黑暗」代替「知覺黑暗」的痛苦。
問題的關鍵在於自由與創造。環境沒有給她們充分的自由去探索世界,學校也沒有擔負起責任,引導她們去理解並欣賞人類文明創造這條長河的瑰麗與壯闊,繼而激發起她們投身其間的熱情,融入文明創造的活動,去尋找生命存在的意義。

您強調孩子需要擁有自由的時間,以及融入人的創造活動,請問如何將這兩件事結合起來?

有自由才有創造,一個禁錮的心靈不會瞭解創造為何物。給予孩子自由,然後給他們好的環境,讓他們看到人如何在艱困中開拓文明;看到文明創造過程中一步步沈重與迷亂的腳跡;看到除了轎車洋房之外,種種美麗的作品、曲折的思想、還有滲入地裡的血淚與汗水。自由的心靈會因而感動,因而聽到遠古的心跳與呼應遠方的召喚。創造的苞芽會因而甦醒,因而綻放成遍地的繁花。
可是我們對待孩子是用另一種迥然不同的方式:限制孩子們的自由,因為我們自己有強烈的不安全感;扼殺孩子們創造的興趣,因為我們擔心孩子未來的出路。「孩子們應該乖巧,多做功課、考好試、找個好工作、結婚生子、然後老去,完成世代交替!」平庸一代代複製著平庸。

根據您的說法,當一個孩子發揮他的創造力,就等於發揮他的自由?

自由是創造的前提,但也因為生命中不斷地進行創造活動,自由才因而深刻。沒有創造的自由,會變得空虛輕浮。是的,人發揮了他的創造力,便在發揮他的自由,但反過來說,他所擁有的自由也變得富麗多姿。
自由使人敏感,一個自由的心靈才能感知山的呼吸,聽到花開的聲音。創造工作需要敏感。
一個擁有自由與創造的人生,雖則風雨不斷,終究是幸福的人生。為了孩子的自由與創造,塑造他所需要的環境,便是在鋪陳孩子幸福的一生。

請問一個孩子本來就是自由的?還是需要被照顧、訓練的?或者說這是一種階段性的過程,在這個過程中,我們該如何幫助一個孩子從不自由的狀態,進展到能夠發揮自由的狀態?

孩子出生不久便需要有身體的自由,才能感知世界,體驗世界,並發展身體的協調能力,發展語言與概念思考。大人要做的是提供成長必要的資源與安全,包含精神的溫暖,但不是限制他身體的自由,即使面對危險時所做的限制,也必須降到最低的程度。我的兒子詢兩、三歲時,同我走在田野,他貼近水溝邊去抓紡織娘,我雖擔心他掉下水溝,但總克制自己不出聲制止,這在一般大人看來是不可思議甚至是不負責任的。我知道他會有掉下水溝的危險,但只要那危險不會致命或殘肢,那就好了。同一段時期我常帶詢爬山,經過坍方的小山路時,我心裡也是這樣想:只要山崖下一、二公尺有雜木林擋著,我便讓他自己走過去。剛開始我還要他抓著我伸向他的柺杖,後來發現沒遞給他柺杖,他反而走得更平穩自在。
有了「身體的自由」,孩子也希望有「選擇的自由」,選擇這個或那個的自由。「選擇的自由」會牽涉資源或文化等層面深入複雜的問題。例如:買玩具、染頭髮、教養、面子、公共場合的行為舉止、做不做功課、決定自己的興趣…等,這些都需要細緻的看待。身為父親,我所持的態度是讓子女明白父母的處境與看法,再同他討論。牽涉到教養和面子的事,我盡量讓他自己去面對後果,而不擋在他前面為他承擔,因為我們這一代人已太社會化了,當我們必須為他的行為舉止承擔後果時,我們便要不斷地限制他。
最後是人「精神的自由」,這是每一個人終身修為的課題。但對於成就出色的創造工作,這第三層次的精神自由,無疑是最重要的。

現代兒童受到影像(如圖畫、電視、電影、電腦等等)的影響似乎比語言還大。您覺得在訓練一個孩子的創造力時,該如何運用這些媒體?是否有些媒體會激發兒童的創造力,有些則會扼殺兒童的想像力?

宮崎駿的「風之谷」、「龍貓」、「魔法公主」這類動畫幽祕詭譎,又暗地裡埋伏真實的人道主義與社會批判,對孩子的創造力有正面的影響。相對來說,迪士尼的動畫聲光色影都十分重口味,十分誇張,商業色彩甚濃,刺激娛樂的效果當然是有的,但對孩子創造力與想像力的影響,卻是負面大於正面。
人不只在繪畫、作曲、寫詩、編劇時才進行創造活動。外界的一切透過感官進入大腦之時,人也在進行創造,尤其在孩童階段。外在世界提供的是素材,人在認識世界的過程中,必須不斷對這些素材加以重構,使這些素材有了意義。如果外來刺激太強烈,像誇張的聲光色影,它會霸佔我們的感官與思維,削弱了重構與創造的分量,使人失去主體性,淪為聲光色影的接受器。
至於作品創造,更是這樣。例如平日把重構後的素材貯放在大腦,到要繪畫時則需進行再創造,來呈現自己對世界的瞭解、自己的感受、感情與感悟。尤其小孩因無法精確的畫出具體圖像,常用抽象的方式表達,這樣反而脫離具體圖像的束縛,呈現他的原創力。
另一方面,大人給孩子欣賞的作品,包括繪本、詩歌、漫畫、電影等等,一般都犯了太寫實的毛病。抽象才能留給孩子較大的想像空間,太寫實的東西會把孩子的感官和思維塞滿。但抽象的處理並不容易,所以好的抽象作品很少見,許多試圖抽象的作品都流於「無厘頭」,甚至內容空洞。
孩子的內心世界是敏感又喜愛神秘多變的,三流的兒童文學作家看不到這點,所以提供許多「假可愛」或說教的作品,商業色彩太濃的漫畫家或動畫家更不管這些,他們只顧賺錢。如果真的為了孩子的內在發展,一定要先瞭解孩子,給孩子接觸的作品,必須好好的經營「抽象」與「豐富」這兩個要素。另一方面,音樂、詩歌、故事,給予孩子想像與重構意義的空間,會比視覺影像大得多。聽一個故事,人物與場景需要聽者自己在心中重構與想像,但看漫畫或電影,那些明確具體的影像已塞滿了你的心。
這也就是說,要創作好的影像作品,更要小心經營「抽象」這個質素。

您在《童年與解放》一書中談到「思想解放」的問題,您認為在台灣應如何落實思想解放的教育模式?

這個問題牽涉太廣,不是三言兩語可以講清楚的,所以我寫了兩本書。「自由」、「打開經驗世界」,都是思想解放的基礎。台灣教育對這兩件事都沒好好的做,反而不斷在限制孩子的自由,在窄化孩子的經驗世界。
思想解放是人發自內心的一種價值重構。只有經過長年的探索思辨,到了某個時候,發現社會既定的主流價值,與自己的生活、觀察、體驗、思辨不一致,於是想跳脫那些束縛,才透過大大小小的解構重構,找尋自己作為人的意義與價值。
這個過程的先決條件是「自由」,而且在探索思辨時,必須有廣大的經驗世界作為基礎。與這世界深度連結,與人類文明相互融入,把別人在不同時空下的經驗,批判地融入自己的主體經驗,人才不致閉門造車,才能重構出一套進步的價值。人類的文明不只是一代代傳承,而且要一代代創新。創新的不只是物質生活,同樣重要的是精神生活,是價值觀、世界觀。每一個人的思想解放,在這裡扮演了關鍵性的作用。
除了「自由」、「打開經驗世界」之外,思想解放過程中必須藉助「抽象能力」去掌握世界的「普遍性」。所以「發展抽象能力」也是不可或缺的內在能力,但人的抽象能力,不是先天就發展得好好的,事實上,人類文明的特徵,便在於「抽象」。抽象能力是需要一步步慢慢發展,慢慢成長的。學校教育要進行思辨、討論,帶引學生進入抽象世界,擷取並發展抽象能力,這也是學校教育的重要功能。
所以,在《學校在窗外》一書中,我用了很大的篇幅在強調「打開經驗世界」與「發展抽象能力」,我覺得學校教育該做而且只做這兩件事,其他便是與孩子做朋友,平等對待,而非管教與限制。

您提到有關「普遍性」的問題,我們雖然生活在同一個世界,但是大家卻不知道普遍性的來源。請問普遍性的原則究竟在哪裡?

如果一個人對世界的瞭解完全陷於個人的特殊經驗,而不去找尋世界的普遍性,那麼他就很難累積知識,他的經驗世界會變得瑣碎。一個人,如果有好的抽象能力,他會善用抽象能力去找尋普遍性,這樣經驗才有了意義。例如:當他看到很多人為了要運動,每天去健身房使用跑步機,如果他常在思索能源與生態的問題,他看到的是:使用跑步機是「雙重消耗能源」。因為人吃了食物,沒有轉化成可使用的能量,這是第一重消耗;進一步使用跑步機轉動機器,甚至在健身房中開冷氣,讓人在跑步機上跑步不致太燠熱,這是第二重能源消耗。別人看到的是許多人在跑步機上跑步運動,他看到的則是深一層的「普遍性」—「雙重能源消耗」。當更多的人都能進行這類思考,看到世間事物的普遍性,世界才會因反思而變得比較美好。當然,「普遍性」也會流於教條,壓迫「特殊性」的存在,兩者是辯證的,必須細緻地處理,才能免於劫難。

有關「抽象能力」,法國的教育是用哲學來培育一個人的抽象能力,但事實上,科學或數學也能夠發揮一個人的抽象能力。您認為台灣的科學教育是否有助於發揮一個人的抽象能力?

台灣的科學教育主要是為了訓練技術人才,而且基本上,台灣並沒有所謂的哲學教育。數學本來有提供訓練抽象能力的課程,但是數學是一種自外於人文社會的封閉系統。所以,雖然數學有訓練抽象能力的課程,但是若沒有融入整個人文社會,有時會流於封閉,對思想解放的益處也變得非常有限。
但是,數學所提供的抽象訓練最為細緻、最為深入,因為數學是抽象難度最高的學科。因此,一般說來數學家有一個好處,那就是他們思路比較清晰,而且他們考慮問題是回到根本層面去思考。數學(及數學基礎)探討的是自然最深層的規律和法則,一個優秀的數學家經常會從根本去探討問題,不易被世俗的權威所支配。反越戰時期,在美國有很多反戰的數學家都挺身而出。不過,就如我前面所言,數學家若沒有與人文社會連結,他們的思想容易流於偏頗。

現代的父母為了讓孩子「別輸在起跑點上」,所以紛紛提早讓兒女出外學習許多藝能。請問孩子的適學年齡究竟是幾歲呢?

我難以說出一個普遍的適學年齡,因為這要根據每一個家庭的狀況。比方說,一個勞工家庭所能提供的「文化資本」(cultural capital)(註1)較弱,因此父母無法讓孩子有多元學習的機會,但是,他們又擔心孩子會重複停留於父母的階級地位。
許多人口頭上說現代的社會沒有所謂的階級,宣稱即使當一個拾垃圾的工人也是非常尊貴的,但是反過來問,如果他們的孩子將來去從事類似的工作,他們真的會無所謂嗎?我們雖然都反對社會有階級,但是它的確存在,而且不同的階級會有不同的待遇,例如:有些人一天要工作十八個鐘頭才能混一口飯吃;有些人一天只要工作幾個鐘頭,就有相當優渥的待遇。我們須感激並尊重那些在社會底層辛勤工作的人,而且要協力爭取提高他們的待遇與福利,但社會階級明顯地存在,我們必須面對現實,不能視而不見。許多文化資本較弱的父母提早把孩子送出去學習,無非是希望孩子將來的階級地位能夠提升,不至於跌入社會階級的底層。
所以,當家長詢問我孩子是否該提早學習一些才藝時,我會先瞭解對方的家庭狀況,以及孩子的情形,才能開始討論這個問題,否則會產生誤導。不過有一個基本的原則,即孩子都需要足夠的文化刺激。一個勞工家庭的孩子通常缺乏足夠的文化刺激,他唯一的文化刺激都是從電視來的,因此他的起跑點就輸給了中產階級的孩子,所以,不應該反對讓他有機會出去學習一些東西。相對地,一個孩子如果已經擁有豐富的文化刺激,那就該多給他一點空閒的、自由的時間。
總之,這個問題牽涉到父母對孩子的期望,以及家庭的文化資本,所以沒有一個定論。有的中產階級家庭已經擁有足夠的文化資本,但是父母仍然提早讓孩子學習許多藝能,這是父母觀念出了問題。對於勞工、農夫、攤販等等,我不會一味的鼓勵他們別讓孩子學習太多東西,好讓孩子擁有一個快樂的童年,因為這種鼓勵也許會讓他們孩子的將來更沒有機會和希望。
但是,父母提早讓孩子學習許多學科和才藝,孩子將來是否一定會成功?是否能在這個階級社會中往上爬?那就不一定了,這需要看個人與環境。不過最重要的還是別把孩子的時間佔滿,這樣對孩子的發展是極為不利的,父母需要給孩子一些自由的、屬於自己的時間。

要落實您以上所談論的這些理念,學校以外的民間團體可以有哪些貢獻呢?

推動一些可以討論問題,進行反思的場域,像《人籟》不就在做這類工作?教育改革、社會改革、改善公共媒體品質、普及並提升社區圖書館、發展讀書會……等都很重要,民間應監督並協力影響公共決策,包括用公民投票去改變目前凡事皆由上而下的決策,不要老是被政治人物操控一切。這些年來,民間在各地努力去推展的社區大學,本來用意也是為了讓人民有機會去進行反思。你若到一些社區大學去看看,也許會注意到有些人不只去那裡學一些新的東西,更重要的是,他們開始在思考原有價值觀的問題。
現代的人出生以後,就進入一個軌道,這個軌道裡只有兩樣東西;一樣是工作,一樣是家庭,所以現代人的思想變得很單調,缺乏多面向的思考。社區大學的價值就是讓人脫離工作與家庭的箝制,進入一個新的「場域」(field)(註2),在這裡他會認識一些新的朋友。不像以往只接觸親戚、同事等等。這些新的朋友與工作、家庭沒有直接的關係,所以能自由的發展出另一種情誼,並且共同學習、探索。雖然社區大學並非有計畫地去規範學生的發展方向,但它能夠提供一個環境,讓他們可以有多線角度的思考。

在教育的事上,我們是否該討論兒童究竟有沒有「惡性」?還是最好別去討論,認為他們的本性會慢慢被塑造?

我比較傾向後者。孩子的可塑性很大,新的環境與新的教育方式,可以轉變一個孩子的原有性情。事實上,問題不在於孩子會不會轉變,而在於大人懂不懂得孩子?知不知道用什麼方式教育孩子?肯不肯細心又用力地去塑造一個讓孩子成長的好環境?
每個人,不管大人或小孩,其實都有兩面:「善性」與「惡性」。大人要先面對自己的「惡性」,才來談怎麼看小孩的惡性,唯有如此,才會瞭解所謂「惡性」的意義。大人常常自我催眠,以為自己是那個道德已昇華的好人,這其實與事實不符。人的欲望與社會規範經常衝突,不能假裝看不見這個衝突,或自動擦拭自己邪惡的念頭。人只有先面對自己,才能好好地幫助別人,了解孩子。有些做心理輔導的人,心中常有一把尺,這把尺是社會與道德制訂出來的尺,他們以此去輔導別人,而忘了真實存在的自己,塑造出一個假的、善的自己。這樣的輔導有什麼好處呢?
去處理或輔導孩子的行為與人格時,我擔心的是我們常不自覺的把孩子當作「他者」來看待。

大約四十年前的農業社會,孩子們擁有充裕的時間玩耍。但是,現在的孩子卻需要花相當多的時間,去研習許多學科與才藝。我們不禁想問:身為四十年後的兒童,究竟是幸福的?還是一件不幸的事?

如同我們一開始所討論的,「幸福」如同「無聊」一樣,也有著不同的意義。我們大人不妨也可以問問自己:如果回到童年,你最希望擁有一個什麼樣的童年?仔細想過這個問題,我們會更知道怎麼帶引孩子長大。
回到我們的主題,對於「無聊」這件事,我們必須要以更宏觀的角度來思考:我們的社會文化和教育體制,究竟出了什麼問題?我們給孩子們的是什麼樣的環境?如果我們的孩子越來越不喜歡上學,不喜歡大人為他們安排的活動,或是更根本的對生命感到倦怠、對社會產生抗拒,是誰出了錯呢?是孩子嗎?還是我們大人?
-----------------------------
註釋
(註1)文化資本:為法國社會學家Bourdieu所提出的概念,即兒童由其學校或家庭的階級領域中所繼承的文化能力,例如菁英階級會刻意培養子女擁有某種品味,以鞏固他們的優勢地位。
(註2)「場域理論」把社會分成各種「子場域」,它們各自以各種「資本型態」活動於結構性、制度性的社會「大場域」中。

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/TimeandCreation.jpg{/rokbox}

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

將夢想落實於生活

你是否鎮日埋首工作,身心俱疲,間或抬頭,憧憬未來退休的黃金日子?
在終身學習和退而不休的今日世界,我們必須更負責任地管理自己的時間,
當下活出學習、工作和休閒的甘飴。

世界有白天有黑夜,地面有高山有大海,機器需要歲休保養,人也需要休閒反思。現代的時間管理觀念,已不僅是時間表或是待辦事項,而是以生涯規劃為基礎的方法論,也因此需要妥善地分配工作與休閒,家庭與生活。

你過著「非人」的生活嗎?

有個流傳已久的故事。相傳上帝造人時,給了人二十年的壽命,人嫌生命太短暫,就找上帝求情,希望能活久一些。正巧此時牛、馬、猴子和狗輪流來到上帝面前,都說自個兒的生活太辛苦,希望上帝不要讓他們活這麼久。於是上帝就把牛、馬、猴子和狗的壽命各減二十年,加到人的身上。從此時起,人們以人的狀況活了二十年,然後做牛做馬四十年,退休之後,在家裡像個猴兒似的帶著孫子,最後只能像隻老狗,留在家裡看家。
這雖然是個虛構的故事,但對於工作時數世界數一數二的台灣人而言(註1),不啻是個貼切的寫照。在過往的歲月裡,人們可能習於把生命區分成零歲到二十歲的學習成長期,二十歲到六十歲的工作期和六十歲退休以後的退休期,並期待在退休之後,能夠過著自在而悠閒的生活。然而在這個知識爆炸、變化迅速以及老齡化的年代,迎接著人們的是終生學習和退而不休的世界。退休之後含飴弄孫的生活憧憬,早已被時代洪流無情地淹沒。
將學習、工作和休閒放入當下的籃子裡,健康地活好每一天,而不是算計著數十年後的退休生活,是現代生活的新主張。千萬別等到齒牙動搖才想一嚐紅燒排骨的滋味,抑或是耳不聰目不明時才想領受高級影音的震撼,屆時只怕徒剩「時不我予」的感慨,獨自高歌「莫等閒,白了少年頭,空悲切」了。

有效管理時間是對自我生命的負責

孔子曾在川上感嘆地說:「逝者如斯夫,不舍晝夜。」無論我們用不用時間,時間都會自然流逝,因此我們無法管理「時間」,只能管理在某個時間點上,我們的「所作所為」。換句話說,我們所能做的只是管理什麼時候做什麼事情。《大學》的「物有本末,事有終始,知所先後,則近道矣」,可以視為傳統中國文化中的管理精髓。如果想要在時間之流上掌握好我們的舵,首要之務正是釐清此行的方向──亦即此生的意義和價值。
一旦清楚地知道航行的目標,便能將待辦事項以輕、重、緩、急加以排序。重要且急切的事情先做,重要但不急切的事情後做,不重要但急切的事情試著交給別人做,既不重要又不急切的事情則要學會放手。切記,我們無法在船上放太多無用之物,以免受其所累而向下沈淪。
梭羅在《瓦爾登湖》中提及:「大多數人,即使是在這個比較自由的國土上的人們,也僅僅因為無知和錯誤,滿載著虛構的憂慮,忙不完的粗活,卻不能採集生命的美果。操勞過度,使他們的手指粗笨了,顫抖得又太厲害,不適用於採集了。真的,勞動的人,一天又一天,找不到空閒來使得自己真正地完整無損;他無法保持人與人間最勇毅的關係;他的勞動,一到市場上,總是跌價。除了成為一架機器之外,他沒時間做別的。」
我們大可不必仿效梭羅靠著一隻斧頭打造容身的處所,但是為自己保留一點時間並不為過。現代的時間管理重視生命價值的實踐,因此決定生命中真正重要的事情,是有效管理時間的核心基礎,除此之外,所有的管理工具都只是達成此一目標的手段。

效率與效能,毫釐千里

不知是否因為受到《西遊記》的影響,中國人特別喜愛「到此一遊」,這不單反應在緊湊的旅遊行程上,同時也反應在人們對待風景古蹟的行為上。這也許是一種工作所養成,重視「效率」大於重視「效能」(註2),重視短暫利益大於長遠利益的習慣。
就以台灣常見的進香團為例,四處奔波就像是藝人趕場做秀,如果遇到大型節慶更是人山人海、萬頭鑽動,「假期」多半「沈淪」於「看熱鬧」之中,鮮少能夠真正放下肩頭的重擔,享受休閒的樂趣和與家人相處的自由。
將旅遊變成攻略也是另一種常見的模式,似乎政府、商家和個人都樂此不疲。集滿十個紀念章,不但可以兌換贈品,還能參加抽獎,於是大家再度為了「完成某項目標」而忙碌著,歷史古蹟或自然美景只能走馬看花,匆匆一瞥。在基隆逛過廟口,在新竹吃過貢丸,在台中買了太陽餅,在鵝鑾鼻拍了張照片,然後對天吶喊:「太棒了,我已擁有整個台灣。」然後再度披上沈重的西裝,回到喧囂的現實世界。
正如同真正會過生活的人,是用生活來填滿工作,而非用工作填滿生活一樣,真正懂得休閒的人,是用休閒來看待休閒,而非以工作來看待休閒。休閒終究是質重於量,什麼才是休閒的真正目的?讀萬卷書、行萬里路、尋找自我,或是單純的放輕鬆,需要好好思量。

東方思維的智慧

東方文化不同於西方文化,東方人重視「關係」大於「個體」,有著獨特的團體休閒和生活模式。因此東方人會在下班後小聚,社交性地延續工作場域,也會在上班時集體出席同事家中長輩的喪禮,和把工作視為工作、休閒視為休閒,下班後回家陪家人更重於加班或是重視個人生命價值的西方文化氛圍不同。
有時想在繁重的工作中安排休閒活動,是一種求之不得的奢侈,那麼學會在忙碌中擁有悠閒的心情,就成為一種必要的自我救贖。所謂大隱隱於市,真正的悠閒是從容閑適而無所牽掛,所以並不一定要遠離塵囂,正如陶淵明「結廬在人境,而無車馬喧,問君何能爾,心遠地自偏」一般,放開緊繃的心情,時時獎勵自己,就算只是休息時的一杯熱咖啡,也能為自己帶來一股溫馨和繼續打拚的動力。
按照佛家的智慧,一個人所感受到的,就是他所擁有的一切;而一個人的所思所言所為,則是他存在的全部。正因為世事變幻無常,正因為感覺中沒有永恆不變的真我,所以佛教追求的解脫,是一種止息了苦,永保自在快樂的生活。

每天愛自己多一些

雖然現在的物質生活較過去進步許多,但是生活壓力也遠大於從前。失眠、焦慮、過勞、各種文明疾病和環境的恐懼侵蝕著我們,讓我們忘了妥善照顧自己的身體與心靈。無論是與上帝說說話或是從古人的智慧中汲取資糧,無論是輕鬆地舒展身體或是在房間裡跳著舞,每天愛自己多一些,因為活著就是生命賜予我們最美好的禮物。
休息是為了走更長遠的路,在每一天休息之前,保留一點時間讓自己獨處,祈禱、反省或是放空自我,回顧這一天,為明天的計劃預做準備。縱使我們並不知道明天和世界末日何者先到,至少,能夠帶著一顆坦然的心入眠。然後,在醒來的那一刻,歡喜地迎接又一次全新的開始,每一刻獨一無二的體驗,都值得全力以赴地擁有。
為夢想填上日期,為青春填上保存期限,一天一點,將夢想落實於生活中。別忘了,我們投資的不只是金錢和時間,還有家庭、身體、理想和生活。


註釋
----------------
(註1) 根據OECD經濟合作暨發展組織2003年的調查,台灣人年平均工作時數長達2,282個小時,遠高於日本、澳洲、美國的1,800個小時,居全球之冠。
(註2) 這裡的效率是指單位時間(成本)內所完成的工作量,效能則是指單位時間(成本)內所產生的價值。

-----------------------------
李志強部落格

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/Time_reveetrealite.jpg{/rokbox}

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Free Time...

Having time just for us, having a free time… Is it not a dream that we all share, as our lives are becoming busier and busier? Work pressure, family requests, means of communication that do not allow us to hide away, traffic jams, visits to the hospital, to schools or to people whose help and support we need… Where in the world could we still find free time?

And yet, sometimes we discover that this luxury is ours. We have some free time! Maybe our family members are away, or we are changing job and we do not start immediately with the new one, or maybe as we become older we are entitled to take more vacation… Or a week-end is starting and our obligations have been miraculously fulfilled… We have some free time... And, suddenly, we do not know what to do with it! We are just feeling bored. We are watching TV and we know that we could do better than that.. Or we are vaguely thinking about a hobby we’d like to start but we do not find enough energy for putting our project into execution… We take conscience that having some time free is not always comfortable, that decisions are to be made, that we do not know so well what we wish to do… At least, when we are busy all the time we do not need to reflect, we know in advance what is asked from us… Having some free time puts us in front of ourselves, and we do not like it so much…

Time to think about time! What do we do with it? Time is our most precious resource, the one on which our entire life is based, and we rarely reflect on the way we control it, use it, re-organize it. For sure, there are some duties we cannot avoid, but, when thinking about it, there is a surprisingly high amount of time that we could use at our will and that we just let fly away… This is especially true of “leisure time’, this period in the year where we are entitled to take vacation, to rest, to realize a project which is ours. How to use it for our personal growth, for our fulfillment, for experiencing more happiness and humaneness? Yes indeed, let us take some free time just for thinking about time...



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