The Good Men Project The Conversation No One Else Is Having Sun, 05 Jul 2020 15:34:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist — and How to Get Out Mon, 06 Jul 2020 10:30:21 +0000 They were charming AF… at first.

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I used to be in a serious relationship when I was in college. When we were young everything seems so exciting, in the early 20s we could decide many things mindlessly including choosing a romantic partner.

Once I’ve fallen into a toxic relationship with a narcissist person but denied the all red flags. Lessons learned, every time you feel the red flag, just run! You don’t want to be caught in a snare like me.

I know you will, but if you haven’t had any experiences and clueless about those traits, these might helpful for you.

. . .

Narcissistic personality disorder isn’t the same as self-confidence or being self-absorbed. a true narcissist is someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It’s a mental health condition characterized by:

  • an inflated sense of importance
  • a deep need for excessive attention and admiration
  • lack of empathy for others
  • often having troubled relationships

You’re here because you’re concerned, and that concern is valid if your mind and feeling are at stake. If you think these signs fit, I’ll also give you tips on how to handle the situation.

They were charming AF… at first

It started as a fairy tale. Maybe they texted you constantly, or told you they loved you within the first month — something experts refer to as “love bombing.”

Maybe they tell you how smart you are or emphasize how compatible you are, even if you’ve just started seeing each other. Narcissists think that they deserve to be with other people who are special, and that special people are the only ones who can appreciate them fully.

But as soon as you do something that disappoints them, they could turn on you. So if someone came on too strong at the beginning, be wary. Sure, we all love to feel lusted for. But real love has to be nurtured and grown.

They hog the conversation, talking about how great they are

Narcissists love to constantly talk about their own accomplishments and achievements with grandiose. They do this because they feel better and smarter than everyone else, and also because it helps them create an appearance of being self-assured.

They’re too busy talking about themselves to listen to you. The warning is two-part here. First, your partner won’t stop talking about themselves, and second, your partner won’t engage in conversation about you.

Ask yourself: What happens when you do talk about yourself? Do they ask follow-up questions and express interest to learn more about you? Or do they make it about them?

They lack empathy

Does your partner care when you’ve had a bad day at work, fight with your best friend, or scuffle with your parents? Or do they get bored when you express the things making you mad and sad?

If they don’t it means they don’t do emotion that belongs to others. Narcissists lack the skill to make you feel seen, validating, understood, or accepted because they don’t grasp the concept of feelings.

They pick on you constantly

Suddenly, everything you do, from what you wear and eat to who you hang out with and what you watch on TV, is a problem for them. You already see the red flag.

They’ll put you down, call you names, hit you with hurtful one-liners, and make jokes that aren’t quite funny. Their goal is to lower other’s self-esteem so that they can increase their own because it makes them feel powerful.

A warning sign: If they knock you down with insults when you do something worth celebrating, getaway. A narcissist might say ‘You were able to do that because I didn’t sleep well’ or some excuse to make it seem like you have an advantage that they didn’t have.

They panic when you try to break up with them

Fighting with a narcissist feels impossible. There is no debating or compromising with a narcissist because they are always right. And because they never think they’re wrong, they never apologize. About anything. While good partners are able to recognize when they’ve done something wrong and apologize for it.

As soon as you back away, a narcissist will try that much harder to keep you in their lives. If you insist that you’re done with the relationship, they’ll make it their goal to hurt you for abandoning them and they might bad-mouth you to save face.

. . .

Being in a relationship with someone who’s always criticizing, belittling, gaslighting, and not committing to you is emotionally exhausting.

The best thing you can do is cut ties. Offer them no explanation. Offer no second chance. Break up with them and offer no second, third, or fourth chance.

Because a narcissist will most likely make attempts at contacting you and harassing you with calls or texts once they’ve fully processed the rejection, blocking them to help you stick with your decision.

. . .

Remember: This story isn’t meant to distrust your partner. It’s meant to outline unacceptable behaviors and reactions in the context of a loving, equitable partnership. None of these signs point to a healthy relationship, NPD or not. You’re not responsible for their behavior, but you are responsible for taking care of yourself.

This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.


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How Does He Learn to Be Single Again? Mon, 06 Jul 2020 10:00:03 +0000 I want to reassure you: you’re not the only person who’s had to go through this.

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Dear Doc,

I’m about to turn 35, and find myself single after 12 years of being in a relationship. My ex and I met in college on a study abroad, and were friends (with benefits) for many months before we became exclusive. That friendship developed, evolved, and after six years of dating (four living together) we got married.

We were married for another six years until she suffered the loss of someone very close to her which ended up impacting our relationship greatly. We saw a therapist, both together and separately, and tried very hard over the course of nearly two years to rebuild the relationship, but ultimately we grew apart and decided to divorce. We remain friends to this day, but now I find myself single, and if I’m being honest a bit scared of it. We were separated and living apart for the last 1.5 years of our marriage, so it doesn’t feel like I’m coming right out of a relationship anymore. The pain of saying goodbye to my marriage has come and gone, and I finally feel ready to start exploring life again as a single guy. But unlike last time I was single (college) I’m not constantly surrounded by new people. Hell, last time I was single apps like Tinder and Bumble didn’t exist! I have joined the various online apps, and have been on a few first dates.

The first dates went about as expected given that I was new to online dating, and really dating again in general. The first date had great conversation, but lacked attraction, the second date there was attraction, but the conversation lacked some chemistry, and the third-first date had chemistry on both fronts, but external factors with family (she has a kid, and my family had some health issues) caused a second date to be indefinitely postponed until things just fizzled.

So I’m reaching out to you and your audience to better understand how one starts over in this brave new online world. With work, trying to start a new business, and maintaining healthy habits at the gym my time is limited, and it’s hard to motivate myself actually go OUT and meet new people. There are plenty of women I find attractive at the gym, but my assumption has always been that these women probably get hit on plenty there and just want a place where they can zone out and do their thing, much like I do at the gym. That said, I’d be totally okay with being hit on at the gym, so perhaps I’m putting up barriers for myself that don’t exist.

As you can probably tell by now, I’m not quite sure how to be single guy looking. I’m not really looking for anything too serious, but also not relegating myself to simply hooking up with people. That said, starting with something casual would be okay. Part of that long separation in my last relationship also means it’s been quite the stretch since I’ve had sex, and I’m not going to lie, I miss it! But where to begin? Datings apps, going out, speed dating, the gym . . . do I just cast a wide net, or is there a strategy to singledom?

Any and all help is greatly appreciated,

Starting Over Single

I don’t have much advice for you on how to meet people, SOS because honestly, you don’t need it. You’re actually doing everything right: you’ve gotten on the apps, you’ve been talking to people and you’ve been on more than a few dates. That’s all precisely what you should be doing, my dude, and you’re having quite a bit of success with it. Your experiences thus far are fairly typical when it comes to online dating. As I’m often saying: humans are built for face to face communication, and there are many things that are requisites for attraction that you can’t pick up on without being in their physical presence. As a result, you’re going to meet people who seem great on paper, even on messaging apps, but who you just aren’t compatible with in person. Dating in general is a numbers game; you’re going to meet more people that you’re not right for than folks you are right for. That’s not a problem with you, that’s just life and that’s fine.

The bigger issue is that you seem to be intimidated by the magnitude of it all. That’s why I want to reassure you: you’re not the only person who’s had to go through this. Hell, you’re not the only person ever to write to me this month wondering about how you get back in the game when you’ve been out for years, even decades. It can feel incredibly intimidating — like you’ve just been revived from cryo-stasis and now the world is so alien to you that you’re practically catatonic. But you have an advantage here that lots of other folks in the dating scene don’t have.


You’ve done all this before.

No, for real. The fact that you’re coming from a 12-year long relationship means that you’ve been there, done that and seen so goddamn much. You have far more relevant experience under your belt than so many of your compatriots out there.

The key is that you are looking at things from the wrong angle. Guys who are single and on the scene tend to focus entirely too much on the early days of dating. They’re looking at the mechanics of the approach or focusing on where to meet people, when these are literally the last things you need to worry about. Approaches feel like they’re important because they feel so immediate and they can feel far more consequential than they actually are. After all: you’re going up and making yourself vulnerable to a relative stranger and hoping to convince them that they want to start a romantic or sexual relationship with you. Apps like Tinder and Bumble can seem to make it even more intimidating; now it feels like things move faster than ever, oh brave new world, etc.

But it’s not true. Things only feel like they move faster than they do because a) we’re all more honest about what we’re doing and b) people focus on the more salacious stories about hook-up apps and swipe right for blowjobs right now and not about all the slow-burn relationships that started right alongside all that casual sex and one-night stands.

Dating apps are just a vehicle for meeting folks. It only seems crazier because it’s giving you access to a volume of potential partners you didn’t have last time you were single.

In reality, approaches are actually the least important part of meeting someone. People who put all of their time and focus on learning how to make approaches get good at approaching people. What they’re not good at is connecting with them. Folks who are the most successful with women aren’t the inveterate approachers who can start conversations with anyone, they’re the folks who know how to talk to women. Guys who can talk to women, help women have a good time and generally make them laugh and feel good are the real MVPs of the dating scene.

And you already have those skills. You know how to talk to women. You have nothing to be nervous about.

I mean, my dude. You’ve been in a relationship with someone for more than a decade.  That means you have had so many weird conversations with your ex that seem like nothing. Why? Because you had confidence in yourself, in her and in your relationship. You know you’re capable of opening up, being vulnerable and knowing that folks who care for you will be ok with it… because you’ve done it already. It feels scary and intimidating because you’re picturing all the ways things could go wrong. But in reality, you’ve been on this ride before. You know a lot of what to expect.

That’s why worrying about where or how you’re meeting people is less important than what you’re doing after you meet them. Having those great conversations and first dates are part of how you find the people who are right for you. You screen for chemistry, you screen for compatible lifestyles and you look for people who want what you have to offer as much as you want what they have.

And you do that by simply talking with folks. Getting to know them. Telling them what you want and are ok with and what you aren’t up for. Which you’re already doing. So honestly, my only real advice for you is “Keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re doing great.”

You may be a little rusty at first — this is a skill set after all — but you’ll get back into the swing of things far faster than you realize… in no small part because you already know how to talk to women. You know there’s nothing to be afraid of. So focus on presenting your best, most authentic self to them and meeting people who you click with.

But as a general word of advice: don’t spread yourself too broadly. You want someone who craves you, not someone who thinks you’re alright. Being broadly but shallowly appealing isn’t nearly as valuable as being deeply desirable to a smaller group of people. Life’s too short for dating people who’re only lukewarm about you.

Good luck.

Hello, Dr. NerdLove.

I’ve heard good things about you, so I’m hoping you could help me with what I’d describe as a social anxiety problem.

I’m a 20 year old cis man, going to be 21 in April. I’m currently living with my family and working part time. I’m a bit overweight but I am trying to diet, and I’m hoping I can manage it with my sweet tooth.

One thing that’s really bothered me basically my whole life is that I have Asperger Syndrome. This made it really hard for me to handle myself in social situations. It got especially rough during middle school and high school. I’d throw tantrums, I’d break down over simple things, and worst of all, I was terrible at making friends. I didn’t really get a chance to hang out with anyone until my last year of high school and by then they were all busy with college stuff and there wasn’t that much time left to spend.

Right now, my social circle is about zero. I think the last time I really hung out with anyone was last year or the year before. A lot of times, I’m okay by myself, but it can get lonely at times, not being able to actually be in the same room as someone around my age. It can get pretty lonely. I’ve reached out to some old friends before, one quite recently, in fact, but it can feel awkward for me since it’s been ages since we talked and I’m not sure what to say. And sometimes they just don’t talk to me and I have no idea why.

And that leads me to more recently where… I guess I’ve been bit by the sex bug or something. I’ve just been really interested in having sex with someone. I’ve never had it before, and there are several people I follow online who aren’t afraid to talk about what they’ve done. I know it’s not a race or anything, but just hearing about it makes me wish I could experience what they have.

And then there’s a whole issue of intimacy. I feel like I’d want my sexual encounters to be a more consistent, one-to-one thing. I’ve read some of your responses and articles regarding friends with benefits, and I don’t know if it would make me feel shallow. Like, part of me is thinking “sex can just be an activity that two people or more can enjoy together, regardless of if they’re into one another, just good friends, or whatever.” On the other hand, there’s a part of me that feels like with sex, you kind of cross some line regarding friendship, like there’s something more going on.

I’m really on the fence about it and I don’t know how to feel. Like, I feel like if I found a person willing to do it with me, I’d want to continue with that person and I am almost afraid of not knowing what to do with this woman and where to go down the line. Would it feel less special? Would things get awkward between us? It’s a lot to think about.

So anyway, between dealing with my loneliness on occasion, having a small social circle, trying to reconnect with old friends, “being bitten by the sex bug” as I put it, and having so many damn thoughts about the damn thing, I suppose my question is, “Is it a good idea to put myself out there? And if so, how?”

Like, for real, I don’t know where to start. I live in a suburban neighborhood, so there aren’t exactly any trendy nightclubs or bars in my area. I mean, there might be if I drove around, but again, basically no idea where to look. I know there are sites like, where you can find people with similar interests, mainly stuff like gaming, Internet stuff, and other pop culture stuff, but I don’t know if that’s my only option. If I were looking for a girlfriend, would I try online dating? There are like a million sites and apps to choose from. I don’t know what I’d choose. Plus, I’m not the most physical of specimen, so I’m kinda worried that would hurt my chances.

As for the sex thing… honestly, I’m not 100% sure what I want. I don’t know if I’m ready for a serious relationship yet. I still want to build my social skills a bit. And at this point, I’m not sure FWBs would be a good idea either. I’m not sure if it would end well for me or her and the prospect kind of scares me. Hell, maybe the whole “sex bug bite” thing will pass in… I don’t know how long. Days? Weeks? Months? I don’t know.

I’m not sure what I want, but I guess having a group of friends would be a good start. And I’m really unsure how to proceed. Maybe building up my social skills? But I don’t know how. Maybe I’m not ready for sex at all because I’m afraid I’ll let her down. Or, like I said, maybe these feelings will pass in a while. Thinking about it now is kind of nerve-wracking. I’m really unsure how to go forward and you tend to give sound advice. Can you think of a course of action for me to take? Or just any advice in general? I’d appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Dazed, Desiring & Desolate

You’re overthinking things, 3D. 90% of what you’re getting spun up about are, in the scheme of things, fairly minor. You’re putting a lot of thought and energy into minor details and letting the sheer magnitude of it all overwhelm you. Practically speaking, it’s all much simpler than you’re worried about. Like I just told SOS: most of building a relationship with someone is just about connecting with them, getting to know them and finding the person who’s weird matches yours.

The difference is that you’re coming to this from a very different place, with some unique challenges. The key is to focus your time and attention on the right areas that’ll put you on the path to getting what you want.

Here’s my question for you, 3D: how is your life right now? How you feel about yourself and your life goes a long way towards having a successful or unsuccessful social life.

You mentioned that in high-school, you had issues with getting overwhelmed and how being stressed and overstimulated could cause problems. Do you have that under control? Are you in a better position to manage your emotional needs so that you feel in control and confident? The more you feel that you have a handle on that, the less anxious you’ll be in social situations. This means that you’ll be in a better position to talk with folks without feeling like you’re having to divide your attention.

Similarly, how are you with talking to people and making friends? The skills involved with making new friends are fundamentally the same as the skills you use to find a parter; the only difference is the end point of the relationship.

This is important, because you’ve mentioned how lonely you’ve been. That, I think, is the issue you should try to resolve first. Coming to dating when you’re chronically lonely makes things much harder and more frustrating. It’s much harder to find what works for you when you’re feeling such a cavernous lack. You’re more likely to chase after potential matches who are simply not right for you because you feel like you need to focus on them or else die alone and unloved.

Having some good friends — your Team You, as it were — is important to your social success on a number of levels. To start with: you have people in your life who love and care for you, which is important for your emotional health and well-being. Having those friends helps your self-esteem, it gives you people who support you and cheer on your successes and who’ll help you recover from your failures.

They also help you meet new and awesome women. Having an abundance of people in your life — including female friends — helps make it easier to meet folks who are your kind of yum.

But what about the question of sex? Do you go for FWBs? A casual, no-strings relationship? A monogamous partner? My answer is: yes. All of the above. Or none of the above. See, the only person who could know what’s right for you is, well, you. As you give yourself time to grow and focus on those social skills — and that social circle — you’ll be getting to know yourself better. And when you’re on more stable footing, you can try different options. You can try a casual relationship for a bit and see if that brings you satisfaction. You can date around with an eye towards something a little more long-term and see if that’s right for you. Figuring out what you want is going to involve taking chances. You’re going to have to do some trial and error to see what does and doesn’t click for you.

You may find what you think you want isn’t what you need. You may find that the things you actually want are so night-and-day different than what you could possibly imagine now.

Yeah, it can feel scary. You’re going to have to take chances and risk being hurt; there is no reward without risk. But the rewards not only are worth the risk, but you’ll quickly discover that failure may suck… but it won’t destroy you. And that knowledge will help you build your confidence and give you the extra motivation to make your move when the time comes.

For now: don’t worry about sex. Masturbate, get to know your body and don’t get hung up on “being good enough”. Focus on meeting people in general, making friends and living an awesome life. Doing this will not only make you a more confident, more assured person, but it’ll help bring people into your life… almost without effort.

Don’t worry about trying to make up for lost time. Your past is merely prologue; the first act of your new life starts now. And it’s going to be a good one.

You’ve got this 3D.

Good luck.

Previously published on and is republished here under permission.



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Why We Should Live Life One Year at a Time Mon, 06 Jul 2020 09:30:24 +0000 Don’t live every day like it’s your last, but don’t forget you don’t have forever.

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Two Ends of a Spectrum

At regular points in my life, I would come across a perspective that resonates with me on a level that sends electricity through my bones. After that very moment, I can no longer see the world the way I used to.

We have divided people into two different groups; those who live every day like their last, and those who live every day with the belief that they can find time to do what they want later. I have never been able to identify with neither group.

If you told me this was my last day on Earth, twenty-four hours is too short for everything I would like to do. On the contrary, if you told me I had 50 years left to live, I would spend most of that time trying to figure out what to do.

It’s a paradox no one has been able to get right because there is no right answer. This depends heavily on the individual perspective itself. What is important to me is unique to me and what I choose to do with my time on this planet is ultimately my decision.

One Year at a Time

I did not create this concept, nor do I take ownership of its originality. I am sure there are hundreds of people out there who do the same. Instead of living as if I have one day or ten years left, I live life as if the one year ahead of this current day is all that I have left to live.

The benefit of this is, I do not have to stress myself out trying to choose only one thing that matters. However, I do not have to surrender to the pressures of society. I will not have to do what people believe I should now, and only do what I want much later.

One year is a long enough time frame for me to accomplish a large number of things I want to be done. It leaves me enough room to do what I believe is needed for my future. However, it also provides space I can fill with things I enjoy, such as travel and adventure.

The Warren Buffet 5/25 Rule

If you’re interested in self-development, you would have come across this at some point. The idea behind it is simple.

  1. Make a list of 25 things you want to accomplish in the foreseeable future.
  2. Rank them in order of importance.
  3. Avoid at all costs number 6–25.
  4. Focus all of your energy and effort into numbers 1–5.
  5. Once you have completed one from 1–5, move on to the next on the list.

According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

When you focus on completing only those five things within a year, you have a higher chance of actually completing them. This is because, in your mind, you only have one year to do so. However, when you live as if you have ten years left, it will take you all of those ten years to complete those five things that you want to do.


Choose the five most important things that you want to achieve, and give yourself 12 months to complete them. The longer time you allow yourself to achieve a goal, the longer it will take you to do exactly that.

Good luck.

Previously published on “Change Becomes You”, a Medium publication.


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American Beauty: The Meaning of the Rose Mon, 06 Jul 2020 09:00:43 +0000 We look at the meaning behind the rose imagery of American Beauty.

The post American Beauty: The Meaning of the Rose appeared first on The Good Men Project.


We look at the meaning behind the rose imagery of American Beauty.

Works Cited & Consulted:
* Leica, Desmond (Aug 24, 2008). “The Modernization of a Postmodern Humbert: Lolita and American Beauty – Part 1.” Desmondleica. WordPress.
* Fonder, Sarah (Sep 8, 2014). “Fifteen Years Later, ‘American Beauty’ Is Just A Bad, Pretty Movie.” Decider.
* Fretts, Bruce (Mar 15, 2000). “”American Beauty” revives the Lolita syndrome in Hollywood.” Entertainment Weekly.
* Khamis, Mohamed (Dec 11, 2015). “A Comparison Between Lolita and American Beauty.” Voices 360. Blogspot.



Transcript provided by Youtube:

Who or what is the real American Beauty according to Sam Mendes film we have to look closer to find out
One of the first images Mendes presents us with is the perfect red rose
Cut from its stem an image of growth snapped away from its life source
Within the film this cut Rose becomes a symbol of false surface beauty with nothing inside
The Rose is almost always present in the film
Mendes is careful to include it in key shots
like when Lester first gets the chance to kiss Angela and even the moment of his death a
Cliched symbol of romantic love the flower is expensive and sought-after yet commonplace obvious an
unimaginative choice
Mendes is bold roses imagery
repurposes that obvious flower to remind us to look past
Superficial appearance and avoid being brainwashed by the wrong values the most memorable imagery in American Beauty is used to show what beauty isn’t
Stuff and it’s become more important to you than living
The most overt use of the rose in the film is to accompany Lester’s fantasy of sleeping with his teenage daughter
Jane’s best friend the sexy blonde cheerleader Angela note the symbolism of the word deflowered as Lester fantasizes about
deflowering the virginal nymph
American Beauty features thematic echoes of Lolita
Nabokov story of Humbert Humberts pedophilic obsession with the twelve-year-old Lolita. I’m used to guys drooling over me
Started when I was about 12
Lester Burnham whose name is an anagram of Humbert learns Falls for the teenage Angela Hayes whose last name comes from Lolita’s real name
Dolores haze
But as the phrase Humbert learned suggests something different ends up happening here
strangely while the fantasy of Angela is empty and misguided it jump-starts Lester’s real growth by giving him something to want a
red-blooded desire
His very typical midlife crisis fantasizing about a younger woman buying a cool car quitting his boring job
Motivated by a real sense that he’s gone stray
within his rose fantasy sequences
The film’s editing uses a technique of repeating the same motion over and over in ever closer shots to emphasize on reality
This is a technique. You can see in surrealist filmmaking like the work of luis buñuel
The disruption of the repetition snaps us out of the narrative flow
Reminding us that what we’re watching isn’t real just as Mendez’s movie hopes to jolt us out of our routine everyday thinking
By the end Lester has to face that his fantasy is false while the Rose covered Angela looked like his American dream
The reality is a key. She’s an underage virgin and he’d be taking advantage
Meanwhile, Angela herself is revealed to be a common red rose insecure insincere and terrified of being ordinary
Least I’m not ugly
Yes, you are and
You’re boring and you’re totally ordinary while its most linked with Angela. The rose is first associated with Carol
I just love your roses. How do you get them to flourish like this?
Eggshells America
Who projects the rosy looking outer life of a happy American woman while inside she’s full of anxiety and frustration?
Carolyn has lost the spontaneous girl
She once was and has become a terrified woman obsessed with order and maintaining a certain pruned image of herself
Carolyn can’t tolerate natural wild growth. She’s trying to live a life exactly like the cut roses in the glass phase
Carolyn’s advancing age is a meaningful foil to Angela’s youthful beauty
Carolyn is our warning that if we continue down the path of seeking beauty in common places and
Satisfaction in material goods. Our flower will fade will become better and disenchanted
And spill beer on the couch
So what’s the movie saying real beauty looks like unlike the boring red roses
Jane and Ricky the self-described freaks are slowly revealed to be the real American Beauty
This early scene juxtaposes, Angela and Jane here
Angela lies about being sexually experienced to seem cool Jane tries to imitate
Angela really don’t need to have some psycho obsessing about me right now
But she can’t commit because she knows that while Ricky appears creepy. He’s genuine and she’s genuine too
Jane doesn’t seek attention which is why Ricky’s camera is so interested in her
Angela projects what she believes to be attractive imagining what others see when they look at her
She’s overwhelmed by her need to be viewed as beautiful. I mean he didn’t even like
Real Beauty doesn’t have this craving because it’s inwardly generated not fabricated from the outside end while Angela poses for the camera
Ricky’s eye and arse is watching Jane
Ultimately, the film presents a very religious or spiritual idea of what beauty is Ricky even equates beauty with a god-like force
Yesterday I realized that there is this
Entire life
behind things this incredibly
Benevolent force it’s like God just looking right at you just for a second far from the expensive red rose
Ricky says the most beautiful thing
He’s filmed is something people have labelled worthless and repulsive trash the image underlines the movies thesis that suburban middle-class
America’s values are in the wrong place
We’ve thrown out what really matters at its core beauty is really about how we look at things. It’s an experience
The movie suggests there’s a life behind objects from the rose to the garbage bag and these objects reflect or interact with human lives
By the end the bright red of the Rose becomes the color of blood
symbolizing life and the vitality were born with
The omnipresent false rose punctuates the film’s message to remember what’s important in life
And remember we’re alive as Lester reminds us any day might be our last so make the most of it

This post was previously published on Youtube.


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Looking After Our Children in the Year of Pandemic Mon, 06 Jul 2020 08:30:40 +0000 The real challenge begins now as lockdown ends.

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On March 11, WHO officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Pandemic due to its global spread and severity. As an effort to safeguard the lives of people what ensued was a nationwide lockdown.

While me and my partner were still grappling with the enormity of Pandemic, for my kids the news of lock-down simply meant school closure, shutting down of all recreational centers, zero play dates and no playtime in evenings. They were just going to be locked down at home.

What had begun as a lock-down soon turned into a stay-cation for kids — uninterrupted TV time binging on chips, popcorns and ice cream, baking cakes day after day, heading to the fridge or the kitchen cabinets every now and then for a snack.

Amidst all this, the only comforting factor was kids were home and Safe.

With easing up the lockdown restrictions, came a bigger challenge to keep kids safe as they look forward to step out to play with their friends and therefore putting themselves at risk of being inflicted by COVID-19. At this point, we can follow 2 approaches for their safety:

  1. Keep kids indoor and not allow them to play with others
  2. Allow kids to enjoy playtime by following safety measures

The 1st approach did not stand a chance given the patience levels of kids were now plummeting from being indoors for over a month. Which left us with no choice but to let kids have fun outdoor with friends while following the hygiene protocol for safety of self and others. Plus, build their immunity by making prudent switches in their eating habits and routine.

* * *

Hygiene Protocol

Kids have an uncanny sense of taking to things when they are completely apprised of the situation. Once they know the Why, they take ownership of their actions and act responsibly. That’s step 1- Making kids aware of how contagious the Pandemic is, its severity and measures to follow for self-care. Providing the background makes the job easy for parents and kids too to follow instructions to a T.

Sticking with hand wash routine

One of the basic measures to protect oneself from the infection, as per CDC guidelines, is washing hands with soap and water after being in public area. From day 1 (since the news of the Pandemic), kids have taken the 20-second hand washing ritual quite diligently, making sure to wash hands as soon as they are back home from play or upon interaction with anyone other than family.

Initially, it did require repeated reminders to wash hands but has now become a routine habit.

Don a mask

Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory infection and transmitted through droplets from either nose or mouth, mask has become an essential weapon to stay guarded from the Pandemic.

For my kids, the idea of wearing a mask is an exciting one and have taken to wearing them quite sportingly. Market is flooded with bright and colorful masks for kids in cartoon prints making it fascinating for kids to wear one.

However, the problem is not solved if only one child wears mask. It requires all those playing together to be equally responsible and don masks. It will require every parent to work cohesively with other parents to ensure safety for everyone.

* * *

Build Immunity

The Pandemic has made it clear that tomorrow is not going to be better than today unless you take care of yourself this moment. For the mother in me, it has meant taking health of my kids a notch higher.

Junk Away

Our modern lifestyle has made us look for comfortable choices and picking up processed, readily eatable junk food off the shelves from supermarket is just an extension of our comfortable lifestyle.

Junk food has found its way rather easily in modern-day kitchen. Bright and fascinating packaging, attractive TV commercials, long shelf life and readiness in consumption has influenced not just kids but adult food choices too. Ready cup noodles, chips, popcorns, cereals, flavored yogurts, or any other packaged food has become a favorite with the kids.

Junk food earned its name as Junk because it offers absolutely nil nutritional value. Due to inadequate consumption of required vitamins and minerals, kids feel in-satiated, leading to overeating of zero nutritional food. Plus, junk foods robs the body of its innate energy thereby compromising body’s natural immunity which now works at a sub-optimal level.

To prepare kids and therefore their immune system for a long battle, junk food doesn’t stand even a decimal percent chance of being secured in my kitchen cabinets. I duly scanned the kitchen cabinets and fridge and replaced junk with healthy replacements to support kids snacking habits.

The usual snack preferences like chips, Maggi, popcorn now got replaced with whole fruits, cucumber or carrot sticks, foxtail nuts, and other nuts & seeds. I now keep nuts like almonds, walnuts, raisins and cashew nuts in easy reach of kids for them to nibble on in between meals. Roasted foxtail nuts are rather a hit with the kids.

Cheesy Pasta, another of kids favorite, otherwise low on nutrition, is now being served with veggies, therefore, increasing nutritional intake and reducing the amount of plain pasta consumed. Plain cheese Pizza also has been remodeled and now topped with cottage cheese and veggies.

Don’t be so Sugar coated

Kids enjoy chocolates, candies, sugary cereals, cookies, packaged juices, sodas, flavored Yogurt which all, unfortunately, are loaded with sugar. Refined sugar is one of the principal causes for inflammation and adversely impacts the effectiveness with which immune system works.

In my continuous efforts to provide kids with healthy options and appetizing their sweet tooth too, flavored yogurt got replaced with home made yogurt, whole fruits, raisins; packaged juices got replaced with freshly squeezed fruit juices, fresh lime water. Baking at home ensured the quality of ingredients and the quantity of sugar going in the cake.

Though its difficult to cut back completely on sugar, its about consuming it in moderation. Eating more of the goodness and less of the sugar.

Get some Sun

This has been one the simplest yet most effective addition in kids routine. Now I’ve rather been particular about them spending 5 minutes in the morning sun which in pre-Covid times kids would miss due to morning rush to school. Sun is the most natural and abundantly available source of energy that works at cellular level nourishing and nurturing each body cell and therefore heightening body’s immunity.

Laugh a Lot

Laughter is an antidote to any kind of stress and sends happy hormones to the brain. At this time we may or may not be able to understand the kind of stress kids might be going through, but we can definitely provide a dose of laughter that would naturally de-stress them and go a step further in building their immunity.

Our Netflix subscription got most utilized this time as we binge watched some really humorous movies with the kids. Kids have had the most rollicking time watching funny shows and movies, bursting in laughter.

* * *

It may not be so easy to change habits all at a time. It’s about taking small steps each day and finishing big. To sum it all up, while we cannot control the Pandemic trajectory, but can definitely influence the everyday choices that kids make. These habits will go a long way giving them a strong foundation for a healthy future.

* * *

Thank you for reading. I am a mother of 3 girls aged 11 and 7, the younger ones twins, committed towards the well-being of my children.

Previously published on “A Parent Is Born”, a Medium publication.


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Your Guide To Getting Started With SMS Marketing Mon, 06 Jul 2020 08:15:08 +0000 SMS marketing makes it far easier to gain quick access to customers. Likewise, it allows you as the marketer to pass information easily to your customers.

The post Your Guide To Getting Started With SMS Marketing appeared first on The Good Men Project.


Getting started with SMS marketing involves guidelines that ultimately offer great value. As more organizations look for ways to gain a steady flow of customers, SMS marketing creates an avenue for them.

SMS marketing has bridged the enormous gap between marketers and customers. An average individual checks a text between two to five seconds of receiving it. This is why SMS marketing is more effective in communicating with your customers.

SMS marketing makes it far easier to gain quick access to customers. Likewise, it allows you as the marketer to pass information easily to your customers.

Do you still have doubts about SMS marketing? Well, we have created a superb guide to help you get started with SMS marketing. Click here for the best text messaging companies.

Guidelines for starting started

Text messages are the backbone of SMS marketing. Texts go straight to your customers’  phone and can easily be accessed with little or no stress at all.

Getting started with SMS marketing involves guidelines that when followed, produce great results.  Here they are:

  • Create a list of your end goal(s)


When venturing into the world of marketing, goals are extremely important to the growth of your business. Your SMS marketing campaign should include a list of the ultimate end goal or goals you want to achieve.

Creating a list of your end goals makes executing your services faster and better than competitors. It also makes getting started easier because full attention is placed on the goals as they are your top priority.

  • Build a sturdy contact list


Building a contact list involves creating terrific SMS marketing campaign messages. Customers get attracted to these and often refer your organization to others.

A strong contact list usually includes loyal customers. An extra tip to building a strong contact list is the introduction of freebies, discounts and special offers.

Loyalty rewards should be offered to steady customers as this will increase their loyalty and help to create a very strong list of contacts.

  • Lay out segments


Distinguishing your customers is one vital procedure to getting started. If your marketing organization offers various services, this means your customers would require these different services too.

So as not to send the same marketing service message to everyone on your contact list, you should create segments. Laying out segments makes sending marketing text messages easier and avoids complaints on the customer’s side.

  • Include a CTA


A call to action (CTA) is one tip to boosting your customer traffic and keeping them happy too. A call to action allows your customers to explore and discover loads of offers on your site.

The perfect call to action includes a button or text link that tells customers what to do, i.e fill out a contact form, access special offers, and a host of other opportunities.

The call to action should be implemented immediately after the initial guidelines. Your marketing text messages would fail to succeed if a call to action is not included in your SMS marketing texts.

  • Offer value


The best way to record success in your SMS marketing campaign is to offer value to your customers. The only way to improve customer satisfaction is to offer value to your customers.

If your SMS marketing campaign lacks value, it just might end up being tagged a spam.

Value increases your customer traffic and helps to build a long list of loyal customers. An SMS marketing campaign that fails to give out value to its customers, is tagged a failure already.

  • Track your campaigns


Keeping track of the progress of your SMS marketing campaigns helps your organization bloom. For a small or large scale organization willing to grow and fully expand, tracking your SMS marketing campaign is one way to full expansion.

There are three metrics to constantly keep track of:

1. Growth

The growth metric involves keeping track of the number of people subscribing to your site or joining your campaign list.

2. Churn rate

The churn metric is noting the rate at which customers unsubscribe to your SMS campaign list.

3. Redemption rate

The redemption metric involves checking the rate at which customers react to special offers, discounts, freebies, etc. It also includes other offers advertised on your SMS marketing campaign.

Keeping track of the responses of customers, the clicks and their reactions to special offers helps you work on your previous strategies. It also helps you create better strategies to draw the attention of more customers, thereby increasing their loyalty.


For small scale business owners willing to boost customer traffic, Jooksms SMS marketing tool holds the key to your increase. Large scale enterprises are also included, if expansion is one of their top priorities.

The Short Message Service (SMS) marketing works to create a bond between customers and marketers. SMS marketing as a whole uses text messages to keep in touch with customers and ensure the traffic on their site doesn’t decrease.

This content is brought to you by Benjamin Ortiz.

Photo: iStockPhoto

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A Solid Sense of Peace Mon, 06 Jul 2020 08:00:50 +0000     After years of studying Zen meditation, I’ve made a lot of progress. Lately though, I’ve regressed, and decided to study something that many say is a very powerful spiritual practice. It’s so powerful that some insist that purification of character is necessary before even taking up the practice. Hoping that my previous Zen practice…

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    After years of studying Zen meditation, I’ve made a lot of progress. Lately though, I’ve regressed, and decided to study something that many say is a very powerful spiritual practice. It’s so powerful that some insist that purification of character is necessary before even taking up the practice. Hoping that my previous Zen practice has been enough purification, I turned to the nearest class that fit into my hectic life.

    Of course I didn’t expect that a free beginner’s course on YouTube would make much of an impact, but I was really surprised. Kundalini practice is powerful.

    The most striking realization I’ve had is what I’d call the essence of masculinity. Let’s back up for some background before we get into that though. Kundalini Yoga deals with the major energy channels in the body. The “Ida” or feminine channel runs up and along the left side of the body. Up the right side of the body runs the “Pingala” channel, which is masculine. Certain practices can increase the proportion of masculine energy in proportion to feminine energy in your body.

    Since The Good Men Project deals heavily with the question “What is manhood?” I thought I’d share my intuitive sense of the character of primal masculine energy.

    Masculine energy is about boundaries. Masculine energy rises up strong, solid, and hot, saying “This is my house.” It pushes away any negative energy in your system and takes hold of your body, giving grace to your movements.

    Unfortunately, when out of balance, it can lead to territorial, possessive mindsets. That does not mean that masculinity is essentially territorial and possessive. Those ways of being come out of fear, smallness, and the lack of masculine energy.

    When the masculine is abundant, there is a solid sense of peace. This peace is rooted in the knowledge that no one will take what is truly yours because no one can. In order to reach this place, we as men must come to understand what is truly and essentially ours, and what is not. As long as we consider things that belong to others: autonomy, wealth, women’s bodies, to be owed to us, we will be insecure. Stripped down, a real man knows that the only thing he truly has is his ability to act in the present moment. Holding firmly to that power, a real man knows that he will live and thrive no matter what those around him do or think of him.

You might choose to practice Kundalini. You might choose a different path. In any case, I’ll hope you’ll join me on a parallel journey. Let’s all become men who have everything to give precisely because we knows that he have nothing.


Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

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Social Media Rescues Young People’s Sanity Mon, 06 Jul 2020 07:30:47 +0000 There’s little evidence that screen time harms adolescents’ mental health, and the pandemic highlights how we should look for its benefits.

The post Social Media Rescues Young People’s Sanity appeared first on The Good Men Project.


By Professor Candice L. Odgers

Young people have been making big sacrifices around the pandemic. Adolescents’ brains are wired to learn through social interaction, and their bodies are designed to respond to it. They have a heightened sensitivity to reward from their friends, with whom life seems so much better. Yet for reasons of safety – predominantly that of others – they have had to set so much of this aside.

Thankfully, they still have social media and networking sites to connect remotely and safely. COVID-19 is making digital technologies more vital for young people, having pushed them almost overnight out of schools, sports and theatres and into their homes, where the only way to connect with peers may be via phones and computers.

As a result, the pandemic has flipped the script on screen time. Hours online have skyrocketed now that young people are using screens more for school as well as for entertainment. That shift is making us talk about a critical but neglected issue – not the tired, ill-evidenced debate about hours of screen time, but how time spent online can be used to benefit young people’s well-being.

Mental health issues predate mobiles

This conversation is helpful because it is false to say that this generation is in a crisis brought on by phones and screen time. For decades, one in four or five young people have suffered a mental disorder. That problem will not suddenly be solved by switching off phones – if only the answer were so simple. Though rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness have been rising in recent years, today’s young people are a resilient lot with plenty of strengths. They are doing better than other generations: more likely to graduate from high school, less prone to violence or to using drugs and alcohol.

“The pandemic has flipped the script on screen time as hours online have skyrocketed.”

But this pandemic will challenge them. Previous downturns and shocks have affected young people’s mental health for years afterwards. Parents and teachers should be prepared for more mental health issues and a spike in young people looking for supports online, given that many of their offline supports have been taken away.

Screen time and adolescent mental health

My research focusses on adolescent mental health, particularly depression and anxiety, in the digital age – the facts, fears and what we should be thinking about for the future. We have synthesised recent findings from multiple studies. They reveal only small, and often conflicting, associations between screen time, social networking, depression and anxiety. In short, a plethora of studies around screen time has unearthed little of clinical or practical significance and failed to throw much light on the direction of any cause and effect relationships between screen time and mental health.

Indeed, our research, by tracking young people on their mobiles, has found that the days when they are more connected – when they use social media more – are the times when they are happier and experience less depression. Others who have followed adolescents over time have found that social media use does not predict later depression, but earlier depressive symptoms do predict future social media use. It may be that when teens are depressed and anxious, they engage with social media differently.

Social media can be a lifeline for young people. Ideally, mobiles can be a just-in-time therapist in the pocket: texting services and crisis text lines have proved themselves in suicide prevention. The digital world offers opportunities to connect with young people who never pass through mental health services. But we have failed to capitalise on opportunities by, for example, designing just for adults and children and not investing in the types of online, peer-to-peer coaching that can appeal to teens as authentic to their ears.

Parenting is similar online and off

Where does all this leave parents? The good news is that although mobile phones are pervasive among this generation, the fundamental needs of children and adolescents remain largely unchanged. Young people still require social connection and peer engagement. They need supportive parenting to protect them and help them to manage risk. Just as when they are offline, so too in their online activities they need monitoring and scaffolding by caregivers with whom they can openly communicate.

Families experience much conflict about the amounts of time young people spend online, but they have few conversations about how they spend that time and why. More often than not, the conflict itself is the problem, rather than the screen time. Parents should find out what young people are doing online. Mostly, they are watching videos, connecting with friends from their offline networks, and managing basic tasks around school and meeting up. We can ask young people about their day online, about whom they have been with and what they have seen. Ask your kids to walk you through their digital day.

A good question to ask both yourself and your child is: Are you there to connect, create or contribute? These are the activities that, young people say, provide the most rewards. Ask whether social media is supporting their well-being and happiness. It probably is. If parents switch off a young person’s screen, they should pause and ask what they are shutting off. Is it just a screen, or is it their child’s connection to an important network, to friends and ways to manage anxieties? Parents should know that their fears about too much screen time are not supported by evidence that it leads to clinical depression. We need to learn more about how the digital world influences our children, but the conversation so far has been dominated by fear rather than facts.

“If parents switch off a young person’s screen, they should ask whether they are shutting off their child’s connections to friends and ways to manage anxieties.”

Parents have opportunities to co-play online with young people. I do not enjoy Fortnite (although the dances are growing on me!), but I play it with my son to make sure that it is safe and to see why he is so drawn to it. Kids often love to share what they have learned, so there are chances to collaborate and for them to teach. Maybe that means taking time out of your day to co-create a TikTok video or become friends with your child on Instagram. Your child might have a second account just for friends, but that’s OK: we also want young people to have privacy and a space to connect without us looking over their shoulders.

See the child, not the screen time

We tell parents who worry about screen time to check other issues first before shutting off their screens. Are the kids getting enough sleep? Are they having time with their friends? If these things are going well, then screen time probably is not a problem. Also, remember that digital use evolves as adolescents get older. It can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning and requires support. But as they move through adolescence, they begin to figure out what activities are most rewarding and how to stay safe as they navigate on their own. Once young people reach college age, many will use digital tools to stay connected to friends and family they see less often. They often report streamlining their digital lives to be less dramatic and more aligned with their interests and goals.

If they are struggling in offline activities, then online activities might also be a problem. For example, if bullying is taking place offline, then it is more likely that there will be an online issue. Teachers and parents who have their eyes on young people offline are often not surprised to discover that they are also experiencing problems online. A simple principle offers good guidance: see the child, not just the screen time.

Previously published on


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How to Date Like a Pro (And Cut Through Frogs Quickly!) Mon, 06 Jul 2020 07:00:42 +0000 It’s a number’s game, but it doesn’t have to take forever.

The post How to Date Like a Pro (And Cut Through Frogs Quickly!) appeared first on The Good Men Project.



“I’d kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs.” ― Cameron Diaz

My single friends often ask, “How can I find time to date when I am so busy?”

You can, and it’s easier than you think.

I speak from experience.

In my 40s, I found myself suddenly single.

At the time, I was managing a sales engineering team that spans several continents. On top of this, I had to deal with an unethical, incompetent manager. Life was stressful, to say the least.

Despite the hectic work situation, I made time for dating because being happily married is one of my life goals. I promised myself that no matter what, I will go on at least one date a week.

That year, I met the man that I would later marry.

According to the Harvard Happiness Study that spans almost 80 years, close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.

Marital satisfaction, in particular, has a protective effect on mental health.

If a great relationship is what you want, but you’re strapped on time, efficiency in dating is key.

Here’s how in five simple steps.

The One List That Rules Them All

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” ― Lewis Carroll

The first mistake people make is not knowing what qualities they are looking for in a partner. As a result, they are easily distracted by shiny objects.

Later, they realize that their partner lacks several vital qualities, so they try to change their partner.

Trying to change others rarely goes well.

Instead, before we start dating, create a “love list.” Jot down all the qualities that matter to us in a partner, and decisively cut candidates that do not meet this bar.

For more on creating a love list, see tip #8 in “ How to Heal a Broken Heart.”

What’s The Body Count?

“There is no one busy in this world; it’s always about priorities. You will always find time for the things you feel important.” ― Nishan Panwar

Dating is a numbers game. We have to plan on kissing a few frogs before finding our dream partner, and this takes time.

Sitting at home, expecting magic to happen, is not going to work.

We have to be out there and meet people.

A rule of thumb is to set up at least one date per week. Schedule it like we would a work meeting.

It is on us to make time for what is important.

Have We Heard Their Voice?

“You text him, he doesn’t text back. He was obviously so excited you texted him that he fainted” ― Anonymous

People waste a lot of time texting potential dates. Especially when the connection started online, it is easy to fall into the chasm of endless texting.

But texting marathons do not a relationship make.

If we sense potential in a candidate, step it up and ask them to get on a call.

Do this sooner rather than later.

An additional benefit of taking this step is that it weeds out dilly-dalliers that are on dating sites to burn time. These folks will bow out at this point.

Why Would We Meet A Stranger?

In hiring, recruiters always screen job candidates before bringing them onsite.

So why would we meet a stranger before speaking with them first?

Going on dates takes time and energy. We have to work out the logistics, dress up, commute over, and then there’s the date itself. That’s at least a few hours gone.

Since our time is precious, always screen a candidate before agreeing to meet. A phone call works, but a video conference is even better.

In communications, words account for only 7% of the information conveyed, while the tone of voice and body language make up the rest.

Unlike text, a phone or video conference conversation happens in real-time. A candidate cannot pause to ponder what they want to say or ask friends for advice.
We get a much better sense of who the person is.

This step alone can save us countless hours.

We Like Coffee (And Not Just For The Caffeine)

“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Since time is a premium, start with coffee dates instead of lunch or dinner.

Coffee dates are ideal because they can be brief, but if things are going well, either party can suggest lunch or dinner afterward.

Do You Want Kids?

When most people date, they chitchat in the beginning, careful to avoid anything sensitive. It is not until later in the relationship that they bring up important topics like religion, marriage, kids, and money.

This is a mistake.

In the very early stages of a relationship, neither party is emotionally invested in the relationship, so questions are not personal. If we ask a date if they want to have kids someday, it is only a general question about their attitudes towards kids.

This same question, asked a year later, would be quite personal. By then, it would be about whether they want to have kids with us.

Imagine how disappointing it would be only to find out then that our partner does not want what we want.

Save the heartbreak, and ask these questions early, preferably in the first or second date.

How we ask these questions matter. We have to come from a place of curiosity, seeking to understand our date’s point of view.

Don’t make it about us, and do not judge their answers.

“Be curious, not judgmental.” ― Walt Whitman

What we want is information to help us make the best decision possible. No matter what our date’s answer is, thank them for sharing.

Per the golden rule, we should also disclose facts about ourselves that the other person needs to make an informed decision.

We live in an abundant universe; if our date’s goal and ours do not match, let them go, so we make space for someone that’s a better fit for us.

The One Secret To Snagging The Best Partner

“In life, you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you believe, plan, and expect.” ― Bill Bartmann

People who end up with the best partners are not better looking, smarter, or wealthier than the average person. They are the ones that keep their bar high and only accept the best.

They enjoy their own company, so they are only willing to give up singlehood for someone that can take their life to the next level. They always take red flags seriously.

In essence, they love themselves.

Loving oneself is the foundation to kicking ass in dating.

To learn more about how to improve in this area, check out my article, “ This Is The First Step Towards Self-Love.”

Putting It All Together

To date like a pro, we must know our value and be decisive in saying goodbye to candidates that aren’t a fit.

It is good to fail fast. Failing fast saves time.

When we come across people that behave poorly, don’t take it personally. Say, “Next!”

What others say or do is about them, not us. Be grateful that we saw the signs early so we can move on to something better.

The more people we meet, the clearer we are on the qualities we want in a partner, so update the love list accordingly. We want to “ kaizen” the heck out of dating by continuously improving our approach.

Above all, love ourselves. When we love ourselves, we automatically know the right thing to do.

If you would like me to expand on this topic, or have other questions, please put them in the comments. I often write articles based on reader questions.

Happy dating!

Previously published on “Hello, Levo”, a Medium publication.


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Tigers Retreat Before Spreading Road Networks Mon, 06 Jul 2020 06:30:33 +0000 The global push to save an iconic species from extinction struggles, as tigers retreat before the relentless growth of roads.

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By Tim Radford

Humans have made inroads into the last territory of the tiger – literally: the inexorable increase in roads is driving the tigers’ retreat.

A new study of the wilderness set aside for the rapidly-dwindling populations of Panthera tigris in 13 countries warns that more than half of all this supposedly untouched reserve is within 5kms of a road.

Altogether, tiger conservation landscapes considered crucial for the recovery of an endangered species are now home to 134,000 kilometres of road. This intrusion alone may have reduced the abundance of both the carnivore and its natural prey by about one fifth.

And by 2050 researchers expect that another 24,000kms of road will have been built through the 1.16 million square kilometres of wilderness officially conserved in Russia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Bhutan. Many of these will have been built under China’s so-called “belt-and-road initiative” in the developing world.

“Our analysis demonstrates that, overall, tigers face a ubiquitous and mounting threat from road networks across much of their 13-country range,” said Neil Carter, of the University of Michigan in the US, who led the research.

“Tiger habitats have declined by 40% since 2006, underscoring the importance of maintaining roadless areas and resisting road expansion in places where tigers still exist, before it is too late”

He and colleagues report in the journal Science Advances that they calculated road density, distance to the nearest road and average species abundance in all 76 blocks of land set aside for tiger conservation, to confirm conservationists’ worst fears.

Encroaching roads discourage the herbivores that tigers might prey upon; they degrade the habitat for all wildlife in the region; and they provide easier access for poachers, for whom a tiger carcass is a valuable commodity. In the Russian Far East, collisions with road vehicles were enough to reduce tiger survival rates.

The road seems the first enemy of conservation. Researchers have recently established that even the presence of human intrusion – the border of a ranch, a commercial clearing, a palm oil plantation or just a simple road – is enough to weaken and in some way damage the integrity of the 500 metres of wilderness next to the clearing.

The global record for the protection of those areas set aside for the conservation of endemic species is not good: another study found that, worldwide, since 1993, more than 280,000 sq kms of natural reserve had been subjected to “intense human pressure.”

And a third study fingered the road itself as the problem, and a growing problem: roads already fragment the world’s landscapes, and by 2050 governments will have added another 25 million kilometres of asphalt, traffic and settlement, most of it in the developing world.

Numbers still dropping

Thanks to human population growth and climate change, the planet is poised for the extinction of wild creatures and plants on a massive scale. So the tiger study reflects a wider pattern.

The difference is that for more than 50 years conservationists and governments have encouraged international efforts to conserve one of the most iconic and at the same time one of the most endangered of all the big cats, but the numbers are still falling, as roads turn what had been undisturbed habitat into an archipelago of little “tiger islands” in which populations are isolated from each other.

The scientists found that those areas most strictly protected in the tiger conservation were less densely interrupted by roads: however, these densities varied widely across countries. China’s average road density in tiger conservation landscapes was almost eight times greater than, for example, Malaysia’s.

“Tiger habitats have declined by 40% since 2006, underscoring the importance of maintaining roadless areas and resisting road expansion in places where tigers still exist, before it is too late,” Dr Carter said.

“Given that roads will be a pervasive challenge to tiger recovery in the future, we urge decision-makers to make sustainable road development a top priority.” − Climate News Network

Previously published on and is republished here under permission.


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The Right Age for Childbearing Mon, 06 Jul 2020 06:00:13 +0000 #ManhoodGame

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Is there a seeming age range preferred for childbearing in your culture?

QUESTION: When it comes to fathering children, men as well as women have “biological clocks”.

True or False?



What’s your answer? Scroll down to see ours.



True. It’s more difficult for older men to father children, and their children may suffer health problems. Current research suggests that some genetic conditions may be more closely linked to the father’s rather than the mother’s age.



Comment below, or write your own essay related and submit it at the red box, below.

The Manhood Game cards were created and developed by Dr. George Simons as a way to reframe men’s perceptions of themselves.

As Dr. Simons writes in his intro post:

Life is often played as a game in which men’s welfare is a pawn to be sacrificed. Today I invite you to join me in another game, diversophy Manhood, a game for reframing men’s perceptions of themselves, for refreshing their mission in life, and disarming social biases that attack male health and limit the possible in their own eyes and actions. Each day I will post a new card from this game, a snippet of wisdom to GUIDE our exploration, a RISK to face, facts to test our SMARTS, a CHOICE to make, or an experience to SHARE.

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Why Your Local Police Department Is Armed to the Teeth Mon, 06 Jul 2020 05:30:46 +0000 And what you can do about it.

The post Why Your Local Police Department Is Armed to the Teeth appeared first on The Good Men Project.



“What the main drift of the twentieth century has revealed is that the (US) economy has become concentrated and incorporated in the great hierarchies, the military has become enlarged and decisive to the shape of the entire economic structure; and moreover the economic and the military have become structurally and deeply interrelated, as the economy has become a seemingly permanent war economy; and military men and policies have increasingly penetrated the corporate economy.” — C. Wright Mills (in The Power Elite, 1956)

* * *

I wrote this article for the United States context. Themes covered and action points at the end can be applied more broadly elsewhere.

* * *

I watched with deep concern the quick and often brutal police response to peaceful protests that swept the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis Police.

So many videos of violent police responses to peaceful protesters have been circulating on Twitter that activists created a public online spreadsheet to track it all, clocking in over 500 videos in less than three weeks!!! The violence was and continues to be so widespread, Amnesty International got involved, investigating 125 selected incidents nationwide to further highlight the deeply rooted, systemic nature of police violence in America.

But beyond the violence itself, it was the visuals of heavily militarized police that were so striking. When you’re protesting peacefully to bring attention to systemic police violence, and your local police department shows up looking like they are about to launch a major offensive on Fallujah, something is terribly wrong.

And when police violently attack peaceful protesters simultaneously, for weeks on end in cities and towns across the nation, there is no grounds for the argument that it’s just a few ‘bad apples.’ That we’ve been militarizing our local police nationwide for decades has made widespread police violence inevitable.

* * *

The arsenal in your local police department, courtesy of the Pentagon

As if the helmets, body armor, ‘less-lethal weaponry,’ and masks weren’t enough, we’re seeing units backed an assortment of armored vehicles and combat-ready officers toting assault rifles. Of course, all this is going on whilst doctors and nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have been wrapping themselves in garbage bags because the protective gear they desperately need was in short supply.

Look at robocop over here. He’s the guy they sent out to convince us all that police violence isn’t a problem. “Everything is fine. We’re just here to keep you safe. Now everybody go back home and go about your normal business before I plant one of these ‘less-lethal’ projectiles into your face.” I’m not convinced.

But this is not a new problem. We’ve seen this before. Remember Ferguson?

It has been nearly six years since local police rolled down streets of Ferguson in heavily armored vehicles with mounted snipers, and where officers in military-style body armor and urban camouflage stormed the streets menacing protesters with automatic rifles.

You may have thought that this issue was dealt with then, but in reality, local law enforcement agencies across the country are even more heavily militarized than during Ferguson.

And while the campaign to defund the police has been useful in starting a conversation and will inevitably lead to some tangible results, this alone won’t rid us of super-soldier policing. You see, local police departments need not pay for the military equipment they own. The Pentagon takes care of that. All that great military equipment developed and used for massive counter-insurgency campaigns abroad has found a happy home in your neighborhood police department.

If you want to see what military vehicles, weaponry, and other equipment your local police department has in its arsenal, this information is required by law to be publicly available. It is updated quarterly, and you can look it up the compiled list HERE, or find the raw data HERE.

I looked up the police department in my hometown and sheriff department that covers the county my hometown is in. And so, I’m wondering what the actual fu*k they are doing with over 600 military-grade assault rifles, various types of armored trucks, and numerous military ‘utility’ helicopters. Also, of course, they’ve got bayonets, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and all kinds of other battlefield-ready weaponry. And what is a ‘combat/assault/tactical wheeled vehicle’? We’ve got one of these. Plus, two truck mounts. So naturally, I’m wondering what kind of weaponry they’ve got mounted on their armored vehicles.

Nowhere in the nation should local police own, less use, military equipment designed for the battlefield. It’s no wonder the killing of innocent civilians by police in America far exceeds that of any other developed nation. To find out how one might go about taking all this military gear away from them, I had to do some research about how local police (and sheriff) got their hands on all this sh*t in the first place.

* * *

How local police departments obtain military-style equipment

Under the auspices of the ‘War on Drugs,’ in the 1990s, the Department of Defense began providing excess military weaponry, vehicles, and gear to local police and sheriff departments around the country. While law enforcement agencies can obtain free military equipment from multiple federal government programs, most of this takes place via the federal government’s 1033 Program.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) responsible for the program describes its mission as ‘disposing of obsolete/unneeded excess property turned in by U.S. military units around the world.’ So basically, we’re producing so much excess military gear that we’ve been offloading it on our local police departments since the 90s. And the quantity of transfers increased sharply following 9/11 as the ‘War on Terror’ became the new justification police departments took to stockpile military equipment.

So as of June 2020, there are around 8,200 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies from 49 states and four U.S. territories participating in the program. And according to DLA, to date, about $7.4 billion in military equipment and gear has been transferred to law enforcement agencies around the country since the program began. Again, that’s assault rifles, grenade launchers, armored/weaponized vehicles and aircraft, drones, body armor, and the like. All equipment is free. Local police departments need only pay for delivery and storage, and there is little oversight for how they use the toys they receive.

In the fallout from Ferguson, then-president Obama put some restrictions on weaponized vehicles and aircraft, grenade launchers, and other types of weaponry you’d only see on a battlefield. While such gear was only the tip of the iceberg, these restrictions were later revoked by President Trump’s executive order, and the range of equipment available expanded.

* * *

How local police use military-style equipment

The military weaponry and equipment transferred to local police and sheriff departments around the country is primarily (though not exclusively) used by Special Weapons and Tactics teams (i.e., SWAT teams). SWAT teams were created to respond to hostage, active shooter, and other ‘emergency situations,’ but in reality are mostly deployed in routine policing activities.

A 2014 report by the ACLU found that SWAT teams were most often deployed — unnecessarily and aggressively — to execute search warrants in low-level drug investigations. Analyzing more than 800 SWAT deployments conducted by 20 law enforcement agencies, only 7% of deployments were for “hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios” (i.e., the stated purpose of SWAT teams, and their only justification for having military-grade equipment).

So since police departments are so accustomed to using SWAT teams all jacked up with military gear for whatever random and unnecessary task is needed, they have no qualms about deploying them at protests today. Check out these guys enforcing curfew on protesters in Charleston County, South Carolina.

The ACLU report describes how SWAT raids in themselves are excessively violent events regularly carried out by 20 or more officers armed with assault rifles approaching a home in the dark of night. They often deploy explosive devices, they bust down doors and break windows, and they storm in with guns drawn and locked on targets screaming for the people inside to get on the floor.

Corroborating common knowledge about systemic racism in policing, the ACLU found that such raids primarily target people of color and that extreme racial disparities are commonly seen in how SWAT teams are used by local police nationwide. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that when police are kitted out with all kinds of battlefield ready weaponry and deploy military tactics, casualties are high.

For a recent example, one only need to look at the wrongful death of Brionna Taylor. Louisville police officers fired more than 20 rounds into Taylor’s apartment while issuing a ‘no-knock’ warrant (at the wrong house) for petty drug offenses. The Louisville Metro Police department has received over $800,000 worth of military vehicles and equipment since the 1033 Program began.

* * *

How to demilitarize policing in your community, and across the nation

Now you know what weaponry our local police department has in its arsenal. You know how they got it. How about taking it away from them?

Below are some practical actions that you can take to demilitarize police in your community or nationwide.

1. Advocate for State, city, or local policies to demilitarize the police in your city or town.

While the 1033 Program and other similar programs are all federal programs, it is possible for your state, county, city, or local authorities to put restrictions on what equipment local police departments have and how they use it. Indeed, equipment transfer requests from your local police department must be formally approved by local governing bodies (city council, mayor, etc.), and ‘local governing bodies’ have oversight on equipment transferred.

Hold your leaders to account. Establish local policies to prevent police departments from purchasing military equipment and make them return of equipment they already have.

Local policies can also limit the use of existing weaponry explicitly for hostage, active shooter, barricade, or other emergency situations where lives are indeed in danger. Local laws can be made to ensure the use of such equipment requires approval from high-ranking officials. Advocate for local policies to limit the use of existing weaponry.

2. Advocate for an end the Federal Government’s 1033 Program and other related programs.

Congress authorized the Department of Defense to make excess military equipment available to law enforcement back in 1990. And the Congress itself periodically introduces and passes legislation affecting the 1033 Program and other similar programs. Both the President and Congress have the power to end the 1033 Program and further to abolish the practice of transferring military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

3. Advocate for a demilitarization of the federal budget.

Our economy produces mass amounts of taxpayer-funded military equipment to fuel large-scale military campaigns abroad, an ever-expanding military presence overseas, and, in turn, the militarization of your local police. More than half of funds allocated by Congress every year (i.e., discretionary spending) goes directly to military spending. And much of that ends up in the pockets of companies producing weapons of war, many of which end up on the streets of America.

And as federal military spending is continually increasing, so too expands our military presence around the world, and more weaponry gets offloaded onto local police departments.

Don’t just advocate to end a particular war, address the core of the issue: taxpayer-funded hyper-militarization. Constrict the supply of weapons to the war-machine, and the Pentagon will stop offloading excess military equipment on local police departments. Advocate for Congress to realign our federal spending to care for needs of local communities. Elect leaders that advocate for not only an end to foreign wars, but also demilitarization of federal spending.

4. Expose those who profit from war/militarization at home and abroad.

While companies that produce weapons of war only profit when we are in a war or when war is on the horizon, so too they profit by equipping local police for combat. The vastly powerful companies that dominate weapons production receive billions in taxpayer funds and have enormous lobbying power across the political spectrum. Mobilize against companies that produce these weapons of war. They must not be the ones that dictate our foreign policy. And expose the politicians who receive payouts from the weapons lobbyists like the NRA.

5. Discredit the myth that military equipment is needed in law enforcement

Powerful interests are behind the militarization of police and these will be your main obstacle. When someone with a badge or in a suit stands up and explains calmly the need for such weaponry, stressing that it will be used only protect innocent lives in ‘emergency situations,’ we know this is a lie. We know that these weapons are seldom used for the purposes claimed, and we know how these weapons only heighten police violence, particularly targeting communities of color. Your ability to make this argument will be instrumental to your success in demilitarizing the police.

6. Challenge the ideology of patriotism

Patriotism is the go-to rallying cry for war, and it is the veil used to conceal systemic racism in policing. Philosopher Leo Tolstoy wrote that “to destroy governmental violence, only one thing is needed: It is that people should understand that the feeling of patriotism, which alone supports that instrument of violence, is a rude, harmful, disgraceful, and bad feeling, and, above all, is immoral.”

If you gain any momentum for change, the patriotism card will be drawn by those who profit from militarization or otherwise benefit from it. They will feign outrage at the very thought of criticizing military or police institutions, however unjust they be.

Those amongst the general public who are drawn to feelings of patriotism are blind from recognizing injustice when it is staring them in the face in the bright of day. The greater your ability to dismantle the ideology of patriotism, the greater will be your ability to demilitarize police, be it in your local community or nationwide.

* * *

Find ways you can make the world around you a more peaceful and just place for everyone. Download my free handout 198 Actions for Peace.

Previously published on “Equality Includes You”, a Medium publication.


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How to Support Kids’ and Teens’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic Mon, 06 Jul 2020 05:00:59 +0000 Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant amount of attention on our mental health.

The post How to Support Kids’ and Teens’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic appeared first on The Good Men Project.


By Javeed Sukhera, Western University

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant amount of attention on our mental health. While organizations are compiling a wide range of online toolkits and templates, the impact of the pandemic on those with pre-existing mental health challenges seems to be missing from our collective conversation. Although all of us are feeling more vulnerable, there are members of our community who were already struggling before physical distancing restrictions were in place.

Among the most vulnerable individuals are children and youth with pre-existing mental health challenges. Before the pandemic, rates of mental illness and emergency department visits had been steadily increasing. Years of chronic underfunding have led to a fragmented system marked by excessive wait times and difficulty accessing treatment.

As the pandemic unfolded, my clinical work as an academic child and adolescent psychiatrist also changed. Some of the families I work with are doing better, yet many are experiencing more extreme and varied struggles than they were before the pandemic hit. Although the proliferation of online supports has been helpful for many individuals with mild difficulties, every young person and family is unique.

Calm is contagious

By regulating their own anxieties, caregivers can help kids by enhancing a sense of control and moderation.

Alongside the many young people who are suffering, caregivers are also struggling. For many caregivers, trying to help our loved ones can be profoundly challenging when we feel overwhelmed and helpless. The most important thing we can do is to take care of ourselves. We have to put our oxygen masks on before we try to help others.

Although anxiety and fear can be contagious, calm is also contagious. The work of Dr. Bruce Perry, a child psychologist and trauma expert, highlights that caregivers can help their kids regulate by modifying the strategies they use to control their own anxiety, to enhance a sense of control, predictability and moderation.

Structure and sleep

Enhancing control, predictability and moderation at home can be addressed through balancing structure and flexibility in daily routines. Some caregivers have found it difficult to implement a routine while juggling their responsibilities.

Others have tried to implement routine but have been too rigid. Most often, I recommend a “Goldilocks” approach to structure and routine during the pandemic. Avoid extremes, be easy on yourself and keep in mind that balance is everything.

A ‘Goldilocks’ approach to routines avoids extremes.

For example, if your child or teen is experiencing “sleep cycle reversal,” where they are up for most of the night and sleeping during most of the day, try to encourage small steps towards improving their routine. Dial back the time they wake up slightly instead of making drastic changes. Discourage naps during the day, encourage them to come out of their room at scheduled times or for a specified amount of time each day.

Be flexible and take baby steps. Let them sleep in a little, and ensure that any changes are discussed, negotiated and fine-tuned to your loved one’s needs.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists have published some fantastic tools that help with structure.

When existing strategies don’t work

Another issue for caregivers of young people with pre-existing mental health challenges is that using existing strategies to regulate anxiety may not be sufficient. The chronic stress of the pandemic can amplify existing anxiety. Many caregivers have said that tried-and-tested tools such as paced breathing are not enough.

Meanwhile young people have said they are experiencing a complex mix of emotions that they struggle to describe. They want to feel better, but when existing strategies don’t seem to work, they experience a cycle of frustration, helplessness and hopelessness that leads them to feel worse.

Young people may be experiencing a complex mix of emotions that they find difficult to describe, and existing strategies may not help them feel better.

Many approaches to addressing anxiety encourage us to try to reason with our emotions. These approaches emphasize how we can fix our feelings through changing how we talk to ourselves. During the pandemic, however, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty around things that are simply outside of our control. When we are confronted with major stress or trauma, trying to fix how we are feeling can sometimes make things worse.

Acceptance-based strategies

When encountering stressors that are significant and persistent, I encourage the families I work with to shift to acceptance-based strategies.

Acceptance involves being aware of your present experience so that you can accept your thoughts and feelings as valid and reasonable while working to prevent them from controlling you. For caregivers, this means accepting what you cannot control and encouraging your loved one to do the same. By accepting that the emotions we are feeling are normal and valid given the circumstances, acceptance helps us to avoid falling into a spiral of self-blame.

Validating our emotions and the emotions of our kids and teens helps to prevent these emotions from taking over. When we try to ride an emotional wave, it is also natural that there will be times when these emotions may feel particularly intense or threatening. Rather than try to fight them too hard or swim against the current, we can remind ourselves that we are built for resilience, wired to survive and that with every hardship comes ease.

Although none of us knows exactly what lies ahead, whatever comes our way, we will get through it together. For any young person or caregiver who is struggling and feels like they cannot cope, please do not forget that the mental health system is still open and here for you. Please do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help.The Conversation

Javeed Sukhera, Associate professor, Psychiatry, Western University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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A Self-Reliant Defence Industry: A Mission Impossible for Indonesia? Mon, 06 Jul 2020 05:00:50 +0000 Indonesia has been touted as the most attractive defence market in Southeast Asia as it deals with terrorism, illegal fishing, piracy, drug smuggling and other crimes.

The post A Self-Reliant Defence Industry: A Mission Impossible for Indonesia? appeared first on The Good Men Project.


By Tangguh Chairil, Binus University

Indonesia is aiming to meet its own defence needs and not be reliant on other countries for military equipment by 2029.

The biggest economy in Southeast Asia set up a coordinating committee in 2010 to create a master plan to develop its defence industry. In 2012, the government also issued a supporting law.

But, Indonesia’s defence industry remains stagnant. What’s holding Indonesia back and is it possible for the country to develop a self-sustaining defence industry?

Most attractive defence market

Indonesia has been touted as the most attractive defence market in Southeast Asia as it deals with terrorism, illegal fishing, piracy, drug smuggling and other crimes.

Having a self-supporting defence industry is important for Indonesia as military equipment are expensive. Importing them from other countries takes a large chunk of the state budget. In 2018 state budget, the Defence Ministry secured the largest budget allocation at Rp107.7 trillion (US$6.9 billion), more than the Health Ministry (Rp59.1 trillion), the Research and Technology Ministry (Rp41.3 trillion), and the Education and Culture Ministry (Rp40.1 trillion).

It’s also important for Indonesia to be self-reliant to anticipate possible embargos from other countries.

Indonesia’s defence industry: where are we at?

Indonesia’s defence industry reached its peak during the New Order regime under the strong leadership of then research and technology minister B.J. Habibie. During his tenure, he declared the defence industry as a strategic sector.

During the New Order era, the government established several big players of Indonesia’s defence industry such as the aircraft manufacturer IPTN (now Dirgantara Indonesia). IPTN developed the CN-235 transport aircraft in the 1980s. It also came close to pioneer Indonesia’s own small passenger aircraft N-250, having built two prototypes in 1996.

However, the 1997 Asian financial crisis destroyed the industry.

The country’s defence industry began to recover slowly. But Indonesia continues to be a major importing country for military equipment.

The latest data from the Stockholm International Peace Reseach Institute military expenditure database in 2016 stated Indonesia allocated US$8.18 billion for defence spending, the second highest in Southeast Asia after Singapore at $9.96 billion.

Despite spending the most in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s military expenditure is still below 1% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), among the lowest in the region. A state’s military spending is usually set at 2-3% of each country’s GDP.

Under Jokowi, Indonesia plans to raise the defence budget to 1.5% of GDP to spend more on research and development for military equipment.

Indonesia’s defence industry outlook

Indonesia’s defence industry players include state-owned enterprises and private companies. Their businesses range from producing main equipment and components, supplying raw material to conducting maintenance and repair.

Big players include state-owned weapon manufacturer Pindad that handles ground military equipment, state-owned shipbuilder PAL for naval systems and state aircraft manufacturer Dirgantara Indonesia for aerospace systems.

Their biggest clients are the Defence Ministry, the Armed Forces, and the Police. They have also sold equipment to other countries.

Pindad has exported assault rifles to Bangladesh and United Arab Emirates. It has also exported Anoa armoured vehicles to Brunei, Pakistan, and Timor Leste.

PAL has exported warships to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Dirgantara Indonesia has exported aircrafts to ten countries: Thailand, Brunei, Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Venezuela.

But these local companies have yet been able to meet the local demand from government agencies as their products are not equipped with advanced technology.

For defence equipment on land, Indonesia still needs to import battle tanks from Germany. In terms of naval system, despite our local industry’s capability in producing fast attack missile boats, offshore patrol vessels, light frigates, and landing platform docks, we still need to import frigates, corvettes and submarines from the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany.

Indonesia still imports all of its fighter aircrafts, including F-16 and F-5 fighter jets from the US and Sukhoi jets from Russia. Indonesia’s marine patrol and transport aircrafts still come from the US and Spain. Indonesia also imports trainer aircrafts from the UK, Italy and South Korea.

The diverse suppliers of aircrafts creates problems in spares compatibility.

Even though the majority of Indonesia’s military equipment still depends on foreign suppliers, the local industry players have also made some improvements in showing its potential.

Pindad is developing Kaplan medium tanks with Turkey. PAL is producing Chang Bogo-class submarines jointly with South Korean firm Daewoo. Dirgantara Indonesia has secured licenses to build H225M, NAS332, and SA330 helicopters for the Air Force.


Despite its potential, Indonesia’s defence industry still faces challenges.

Funding for research and development in defence technology in Indonesia is lacking. Because of this, it remains difficult for Indonesia to develop state-of-the-art technology for its military products, making them less competitive in the global market. The uncertainties in getting orders from local market has made the industry players reluctant to heavily invest in research as companies must bear the risks associated with research failures.

This has caused a rocky relationship between defence industry players and their local costumers. The Armed Forces often complain about the quality of local products, resulting in them buying from other countries.

This case occurred when the Indonesian Air Force bought AW101 helicopters from the Anglo-Italian company Leonardo-Finmeccanica last year, despite Dirgantara Indonesia having the capability to produce similar products.

Other challenges include contract and regulatory uncertainties. This results in many contracts being postponed or cancelled.

Recently, the deal between South Korea and Indonesia to develop fighter aircrafts was put on hold due to contract disagreements. Previously, the deal was delayed due to various reasons, including financial and administrative issues, as well as political conditions.

Possible solutions

To achieve its goals of self-sufficiency, Indonesia should first address problems hindering the development of the country’s defence industry.

First, if the government plans to increase the budget allocation for military, it should allocate its portion of the state budget for research and development programs for military weaponry.

The government must also support local industry players by giving them guarantees through legal instruments and incentives. Under these incentives, the government may require the Defence Ministry, the Armed Forces, and the Police to procure military equipment from local players only.

The government should also facilitate better relationship between the defence industry players and the Armed Forces.

With these steps, Indonesia will be one step closer to having a self-reliant defence industry.The Conversation

Tangguh Chairil, Lecturer in International Relations, Binus University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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The Short Game and the Long Game of COVID-19 Mon, 06 Jul 2020 04:30:49 +0000 It’s not enough to defeat COVID-19, we need to reduce risks for future pandemics.

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By Simon Sutcliffe

It’s not enough to defeat COVID-19, we need to reduce risks for future pandemics

The COVID-19 pandemic has captured the attention of Canadians with an urgency and a level of grudging acceptance unlike any other medical or natural disaster in our lifetime. We have complied with imposed restrictions and privations that would have been thought impossible and unacceptable under normal circumstances mere days before they were imposed.

Containment of this first episode of disease is emerging, and while containment is not cure, it buys time until herd immunity or an effective vaccine confers disease control, as in the past with smallpox, polio and measles. The promise of containment presages “a return to normal.”

But resuming “normal life” will be simply a prelude to ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks (until a vaccine) or to the next pathogen that emerges. After all, SARS-CoV-2 is but one of many coronaviruses and other animal viruses that could give rise to the next pandemic.

The repeated emergence of pandemics presents the greater and on-going threat to present and future society.

We have demonstrated we can change behaviours, lifestyles and social and business practices for short, sustained periods to overcome an acute challenge to our well-being. But do we have the collective courage, resolve and wisdom to confront the global circumstances that generate the conditions in which pandemics arise?

It’s not good enough to contain this pandemic. We need to reduce the risk of future and recurring pandemics.

Control of pandemics requires more from us societally and politically than containment of the infection. COVID-19 and major pandemics of past eras have not been caused by a new pathogen, but a pathogen new to us. They result from transfer of an animal pathogen into a human, either directly, or through a secondary animal host.

Pandemics are a mirror of our choices and actions that create the conditions that favour novel virus transmission between animals, commonly wild, and humans. How does this happen?

It can happen through deforestation with the consequent reduction of biodiversity, the destruction of habitats due to human encroachment for agriculture and trade, juxtaposing agriculture and urbanization without consideration of public health infrastructure, climate change causing habitat change, altering wet lands, river flows and flood plains with consequent human and animal migration and change in insect vector distribution, for example.

There are also wild animal markets bringing live wild and domesticated food sources into human contact, the hunting and sale of wild animals as “bush-meat,” the ownership of exotic wild species as pets and air travel transferring infections anywhere in 24 hours without the possibility of quarantine.

Such factors are exacerbated by social circumstances, including poverty, hunger, overcrowding, limited education, poor hygiene and the social distress of disparities, insecurity and uncertainty.

This constellation of circumstances creates the conditions in which human and animal interaction share viral transfers that become global pandemics.

A return to pre-COVID-19 “normal” would be a complacent acceptance of the status quo — a short-term, high cost fix — the cost of containment. But if the control of pandemics is the goal, then the means are neither easy, nor short-term.

Controlling future pandemics requires us to take a clear position on issues relating to our global future — leadership to champion the social, environmental and economic conditions underlying the emergence of pandemics, and solidarity to stand squarely with those who have made the choices necessary to achieve pandemic control.

The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing steadily and the above conditions and regulations may have altered since the date of publication

Previously published on quoimedia with Creative Commons License



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The North Atlantic’s Worrisome Cold-Water Anomaly Mon, 06 Jul 2020 04:01:03 +0000 The North Atlantic is warmed by the Gulf Stream that flows up the east coast of North America.

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By Dan Lennon

The Blob

Since 1900, global SST (sea surface temperature) has increased by an average of 1oC with the exception of an area of the North Atlantic off the southeast coast of Greenland that has cooled by about the same amount.  This area has been dubbed the “cold blob”, abbreviated (as all climate phenomena seem to be) as “CB”; and, while you might think that any cold news is good news, in this case, it isn’t.

The Gulf Stream

The North Atlantic is warmed by the Gulf Stream that flows up the east coast of North America.  This warms the air over the North Atlantic and makes western Europe, which is at the same latitude as Canada, a warmer and more climatically hospitable place than our northern neighbor.


 The Gulf Stream is part of the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).  AMOC is a continuous flow that consists of warm surface waters that move generally northward and cold deep waters that move southward.  (Meridional means that the circulation is generally north-south, and overturning refers to the fact that at certain points the water dives down about one mile – called “deep water formation” or “downwelling” – from the surface to begin its underwater flow.)

By distributing heat from lower latitudes to higher latitudes, AMOC reduces the temperature differential between tropical, temperate, and arctic zones.  This has several beneficial effects.  As mentioned earlier, it makes Europe a more climatically hospitable place; the vertical mixing due to overturning also brings nutrients to the surface which enhances marine life; by reducing the heat content in the lower latitudes, it reduces the horizontal temperature gradient which reduces the energy available to power storms; and it is the largest carbon sink in the northern hemisphere, sequestering nearly a billion tons of carbon a year.

The AMOC is one of the strongest current systems on the planet.  On its way north, the flow of the Gulf Stream increases from about one billion cubic feet per second to over 5 billion cubic feet per second.  This is more than 100 times as much as all rivers of the earth combined.

The AMOC Index

The AMOC index measures the difference between the surface and deep-water temperature in the subpolar Atlantic.   Here is a record of the AMOC index since 900 AD.  (Fossilized foraminifera provide proxy data for temperature.)

You will note that the index fluctuates naturally, but that for the past 200 years (coincident with the beginning of the industrial revolution) the index has been on a steady decline.  The natural fluctuation is due to the way in which deep water formation occurs.  The warm water from lower latitudes is saltier than the colder northern waters and so it has a higher specific gravity.  As it flows north and cools, it becomes denser than the surrounding, less salty water, which makes it heavier and allows it to make the dive to the deep ocean and begin its underwater journey.  This downwelling is what causes the current to continue.  Any interruption of the deep-water formation process will therefore slow the AMOC current.

Fresh-Water Dilution

As with virtually all climate phenomena, there is a feedback mechanism that controls the cyclicality of the AMOC index.  When the index is high, the current is robust, and the heat transferred to the arctic is at its maximum.  The resulting warming of the arctic causes increased melting of ice.  As more ice melts, albedo is reduced, engendering more ice melt.

The greatest store of ice in the arctic is on Greenland.  As the rate of ice melt increases, more freshwater flows into the ocean.  This freshwater dilutes the saltiness of the water at the northern extreme of the AMOC where downwelling occurs.  As the water becomes less salty, it becomes less dense, so it does not sink as rapidly.  This slows downwelling and therefore the speed of the AMOC current.  As the current slows, less heat is delivered to the artic, the rate of ice melt slows down, freshwater runoff declines, dilution of the saltwater decreases, and the AMOC flow naturally picks up again.

Referring once again to the chart, you can see that, although the cyclical nature of the AMOC index continues, it does so against a background of an overall reduction in the index and therefore a slowing of the AMOC current.  This trend is due to the effects of anthropogenic global warming due to the production of greenhouse gases in quantities that cannot be naturally absorbed and that therefore build up in the atmosphere and prevent the Earth from emitting enough heat to remain in thermodynamic equilibrium.

The Thermohaline Circulation

AMOC is part of the global thermohaline circulation current – a continuous conveyor belt that transfers heat (thermo) and salt (haline) around the world.  The current is driven by downwelling which is driven by differences in density between the current and the surrounding water which is, in turn, controlled by the temperature and salinity of the water.   Consequently a slowdown in AMOC will cause a slowdown in the entire thermohaline circulation current which will affect climate not just in the north Atlantic, but globally.

Consequences of an AMOC Shutdown

The 2004 disaster move “The Day After Tomorrow” uses the stoppage of the AMOC current as its plot device.  Unfortunately the producers opted for theatrical impact at the expense of a more realistic portrayal of the likely consequences, a curious choice since the real consequences would have been dire enough.

The consequences of a stoppage of the AMOC are the flip side of the benefits listed earlier:  The climate in Europe will become more like that of Canada;  diminished nutrients will adversely affect marine life in the north Atlantic; one of the world’s largest carbon sinks will be lost, exacerbating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions; and the horizontal temperature gradient will increase and drive superstorms of unprecedented power.  There is evidence that such a shutdown of the AMOC occurred 118,000 years ago during the previous interglacial period (the Eemian).  On the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, seven massive 1,000-ton boulders are positioned atop a 15-meter-high cliff. According to several studies, they were transported there by super storms.

How Soon, How Bad?

The paleontological record shows that the relative stability of the Holocene climate and sea level is the exception rather than the rule.  As the climate inevitably changes as a result of our ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, we should not expect change to continue to be gradual.  History shows that feedbacks will trigger bursts of rapid climate changes that will  occur in decades, not centuries.  Our experience and our intuition do not prepare us for such an eventuality.

No one can make date-specific predictions, but it is clear that our continued burning of fossil fuels in ever-greater quantities is sealing our fate and that we can, sorrowfully but confidently, say that catastrophic consequences will befall our children and grandchildren this century.  The caveat “unless we change” has become an increasingly meaningless coda.

Previously published on and is republished here under permission.



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How a Good Apology Can Restore Trust and Grow Your Love Mon, 06 Jul 2020 03:30:19 +0000 Make things right with the dance of connection.

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Most often, we use the word “sorry” as similar to saying, “Hi, how are you?” while passing by strangers. I grew up listening to my father, abusing the word without changing his actions. Eventually, I met so many people in life who apologize just for the sake of controlling the situation. The minute passes by, and the unhealthy immoral actions repeat. Likewise, often the statement of apology will proceed with an excuse defining their actions.

Subsequently, I realized there is no fruitful weight to the word “Sorry” and so in my present days, if I do say or act a certain way that might be disliked by someone else, I cease to say, “I am Sorry!” Because I meant to act or say whatever I did, and I have become numb to that word.

Which is weird, right?!

So, I sit one day trying to feel and analyze why people keep saying “sorry,” and then they do nothing to improve their actions.

In brief, there might be two conditions: the person is genuine with his/her response, and second, the person is an absolute narcissist.

The truth is most of us merely use our vocabs based on their true meaning. We disregard and devalue the words in our daily life, just as we devalue our relationships with ourselves as well as others.

We feel just by saying sorry, we freeze the moment, and all the flaws are gone. The wrong remain as forgiven, and instantly everyone is happy. However, what happens when after a day or two, the same improper activities repeat. We say sorry again and again and again and get forgiven. And one day comes when there stands no regard what-so-ever.

. . .

A good apology comes with a payment.

The payment appears as an action to prove that you have improved in your behavior.

If you were unkind, now you are kind.

If you were disrespectful, now you are respecting other’s presence and opinions.

The reason I used the term “Payment” is that if your actions were unhealthy and abusive, then yes, you have to pay for that moment of love and respect you destroyed.

Anger and frustrations indeed make us behave and perform in specific ways. Sometimes, we are unaware of our responses to our surroundings during our mood swings. We unknowingly end up hurting our loved ones. Otherwise, there are times when we intend to speak up to the other person.

It is then that a good apology is necessary to receive forgiveness from our loved ones, whether it is to yourself or the others.

In several scenarios, we take things for granted. And that might involve the feelings of our loved ones.

When we take things for granted, we assume already that the other person is going to forgive us regardless. We expect that the other person loves us so much that there is no requirement for additional improvement.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Apologize to make things right.

Start with the intention that you know you were wrong, and you are aware of your actions. It requires a lot of mindfulness, as well as the ability to read yourself.

When we know we are at fault, apologizing becomes easy. It is always hard to make things right when you have messed it up big time. However, when an apology comes from within, from your heart and soul, the process appears genuine.

You do not play games with the other person’s mind.

In this case, you do not pretend. Instead, you are ready to re-start a new and improved “YOU.” By doing so, you are giving another chance to your relationship. Your focus on improving yourself will reflect positively on the relationship with the others.

Take appropriate actions, observe the other person’s reactions towards your move, and read your behavior.

Apologize ONLY when you know you were at fault.

Notably, women tend to use the word “Sorry” as their middle name, which is a massive problem because it reflects on your level of confidence as well as your attitude of blaming yourself for something that you may not have done.

Meanwhile, there are certain kinds of people who will apologize to remain in control of the situation. They say sorry, and then they feel they won because the person in front was too kind to forgive him/her. Subsequently, they never make an effort to change their actions because they are content with their ability to manipulate anyone on their will.

Do not apologize if you know and you have analyzed that you are not at fault.

I am not supporting narcissism here. What matters is to develop an attitude to understand your feelings and know why you reacted the way you did. By doing so, you rationalize your actions from a third-person’s perspective.

Do not apologize when you are standing up against injustice and abuse. Never apologize when your actions and words are valid and appropriate for the situation.

Do not apologize when you are saving your self-worth and self-respect.

Most importantly, do not apologize when you know you will never change your behavior in the future.

Which is tricky, because most people do not know who they are. If you do not regret repeating your actions, there is no need to say sorry. Just be your true self.

. . .

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

Mindfulness of your emotions is the key to have a healthy conflict of opinions. No two person is perfect, hence whether, at work or personal circumstances, conflict of ideas is natural.

Welcoming the discomfort and dealing with it maturely is the key to establishing healthy relationships.

A good apology comprises of several methods of seeking forgiveness to explaining why the other person or situation made you react the way you did, which will depend a lot on the kind of the person in front.

Meanwhile, it is essential to remind yourself that apologizing does not lower your self-worth, and it is beyond the word, “Sorry.”

Showing that you are genuinely regretting your actions is also very important.

Writing a letter or email can sometimes be very useful in such situations. The reason being, it provides both the person involved space to acknowledge their feelings without needing to justify in front of each other. Likewise, when you know the likes and preferences of the other person, you may want to pursue those activities to make the environment comfortable to talk.

Regardless of our fault, apologize to show empathy as well as help the person in front acknowledge your discomfort and imperfect sides. At the same time, convince the other person that you are ready to make the changes and accept their distress.

A good apology will require a pinch of vulnerability as well as emotional maturity.

Being vulnerable is one of the critical aspects of developing deep and loving relationships. Hence, allowing love to dominate over the dark sides of yours in those moments of discomfort is the best move towards seeking forgiveness as well as forgiving others.

This post was previously published on Change Becomes You and is republished here with permission from the author.


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A Father’s Sacrifice Mon, 06 Jul 2020 03:00:17 +0000 A hero that will never be forgotten.

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Tony Stark. Clark Kent. Matt Murdock. Barry Allen. Peter Parker. Steve Rogers. We don’t have to be a devoted comic book reader, and super fanatic just to find out their fictional character and abilities. Most of the time, we recognize their faces on television and movie posters. Because of their astonishing powers and vivid outfits, they are the superheroes of our childhood moments. And even today, they are still the heroes and admirers of young men.

Actually, I’m a huge fan of it too. I’m inspired by their extraordinary powers, and for their bravery to serve and protect the citizens or ordinary people from tragedies elicited by the villains. But fictional characters are far different from the real world. It looks like superheroes are real because they make us feel heroic when encountering adversities. We only see them on comic book or TV, and they are only existing in our imagination.

However, real-life heroes are living in our society such as — teachers, social workers, soldiers, doctors, police officers, and a lot more that will protect and teach us the moral of being a hero — We all have someone that encouraged us to acquire the person who we want to be.

* * *

My Father

Photo of us when we were kids

Everybody has his own hero in life. A role model who nurtures others to be their better selves. For me, my hero is my father, who has inspired me typically in myriad aspects of life. But first, what does it mean to be a father? A father is beyond just a phrase. He is ready to step up, to be responsible for his children and his family. He’s a pillar of our homes, they are the ones who uphold a family. Even when they are struggling and don’t know what to do in tough times. They still do it for their children and family. And in the family, they draw courage to proceed with the circuit of life.

My father carries an important part in the family. Yet, I know that both father and mother have a particular role to play in supporting their children. My mother is a lovely and benevolent woman, it is my father who shows bravery and resilience which is will, after some time, consume as one of our characteristics. He can be stringent at all times, but we will benefit and it is for our own good.

Being a father has a huge responsibility and is not simple. You have to invest your life and need to be strong for your family. It includes looking after your children into virtuous grown-ups by educating and introducing them about the real world. the reality. On how life works in a logical thing.

Speaking of reality, my father is far away from us. Yes, that’s awful! Yet, he’s in the other country in Dubai, UAE. Working hard to provide our basic necessities. I admire him for his boldness. Even though, he didn’t even take a glimpse of us every day when he got home from work. He endured all the adversities and discomfort of seeing us. Just to give us a decent life we deserve and to support us achieving what career we’ll be facing.

Despite the fact, that he’s a thousand miles away from us. He’s just so close, here, deep in our hearts. My father sacrificed himself. Not literally, but to went to another country just to sustain our desires and needs in life. He’s my real hero. In this world, full of scoundrels and opportunists. He always teaches us including my siblings to understand what is right and wrongdoings completely.

So why do we need a fictional character to inspire us, when there is your dad, right by your side that you can count on and guide you through your course of life. I will say that I am very proud to be his son and continue to achieve my ambitions for him. Most of all, my father is a true hero in my life.

* * *

On this day, that needs to remember every time. I’d like to dedicate this article to all the amazing fathers, father figures, and to those who have to fill in as a father for their child. They’re also the ones who pinched the lives of people that merge them to be the better version of themselves.

Thank you for all the things you have done and continue doing for the sake of us. We appreciate your hard work and the oftentimes quiet but influential you have displayed in our lives.

Happy Father’s Day to everyone! Have a great day!

Previously published on “Change Becomes You”, a Medium publication.


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Is It Rational to Vote? Mon, 06 Jul 2020 02:30:02 +0000 It is the logic of collective commitment that undergirds the morality of voting.

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By Julia Maskivker

For far too long, the accepted wisdom among scholars of politics has been that the interests of the individual and the interests of society are not in harmony when it comes to voting. The American economist Anthony Downs, in his foundational book An Economic Theory of Democracy (1957), argued that a truly rational individual, who knows that her vote is highly unlikely to tip the outcome in favour of her preferred candidate, should not bother to cast a ballot. On this view of human rationality, an independent action that carries no instrumental value for the person who acts is essentially foolish, justifiable only by the sense of pride or communion with others that it creates in her.

This is fine, perhaps even compelling, as an esoteric argument. But taken to its logical extreme, this classical account of rationality would imply that nobody should ever vote. This outcome would gut democratic governance of its central regulating mechanism. Society would be left worse off, even if each citizen were spared the apparently pointless expense of time and energy involved in a trip to the ballot box. Two facts are missing from the classical view: that elections are ultimately cooperative ventures, and that the rationality of participating in them depends on more than an individual-level cost-benefit analysis of the effort involved in each pull of a voting-machine lever or crossing of a ballot paper. An individual’s true interest in voting is inextricably intertwined with the interests of the polity as a whole.

In this, voting is not fundamentally different from many other actions. Failure to participate in a collective endeavour is fundamentally irrational whenever it risks contributing to outcomes contrary to our own basic interests. We rely on cooperation to solve a range of pressing challenges, from global warming and extreme poverty to preventable disease. Few question the rationality of minimising our individual carbon footprints, for example, or individually deciding to boycott companies that rely on child labour. No one person who engages in such behaviour will individually solve the climate crisis or eliminate the exploitation of children. But it is still rational to undertake individual actions that contribute to a collective effort likely to have desirable effects for humanity as a whole.

On this view of rationality, we ask: what is good for the whole, including me, and how can I contribute to it, however modestly? This view recognises that, when many adopt the same individual behaviour, good things can ensue for all. The collective benefit that accrues to everybody who cooperates outweighs the cost to each individual of shouldering her share of the burden.

In the context of elections, the collective endeavour is the creation of a just government, and the costs involved in making individual contributions towards this goal are minimal. Voting is an episodic act that causes only limited disruptions to our lives if registration and voting procedures function as they should. And gathering sufficient factual information to determine which candidate(s) are most likely to best serve the collective interest should not be an unduly complex affair. Aristotle, by no means a supporter of full democracy, claimed in his Politics that citizens don’t have to be technical experts to participate in civic life. Voting does require some knowledge; but it doesn’t require excessive or deeply technical knowledge. Similarly, voter ignorance is not an act of God. We need reforms that enhance access to truth and civic education. We should not condone conscious deceiving from an immoral political class. The duty to vote is really a duty to vote responsibly – yet, it is doable. We should place heavier stress on what causes voter apathy and ignorance, rather than see them as culprits for all that is wrong with democracy.

In return, when many people vote, we can expect elections to deliver fair-minded governments – or at least to oust inept and immoral ones. I would argue that we have a duty to help our fellow citizens in this way, and that we should understand voting as a duty of common pursuit – that is, one that requires that we act together to achieve collective benefits.

The English philosopher John Stuart Mill took a similar line. In his Considerations on Representative Government (1861), he characterised the vote as a trust, arguing that it gave each citizen – ‘either as an elector or as a representative’ – power over other citizens in society. Assuming that Mill recognised that, except in rare cases, no individual ballot was likely to turn the tide of an election, the ‘power’ to which he referred is best understood as a collective one, but grounded in individual action. Cumulatively, individual votes have the power to affect the quality of governments – and therefore the lives of our fellow citizens, as well as our own.

Is there any situation in which cooperation of this sort would not be preferable, from an individual perspective? In the Second Treatise of Government (1689), the English philosopher John Locke argued that it would be rational to prefer living in a state of nature over co-operating with others in collective obedience to an authoritarian government. Is voting similar? Is there a possible scenario in which it would be rational for an individual to decline to vote?

In my view, there is not. If we fail to save a child drowning in a pond – to use an example made by the Australian philosopher Peter Singer in 1972 – we are causally implicated in the death, even if we didn’t put the child in the water to drown. Similarly, one individual decision not to vote – combined with similar decisions by others – can keep unjust governments in power or just ones from being formed. There is nothing irrational about wanting to avoid these possibilities by acting in conjunction with others in the same way that we cooperate with others by recycling or donating to charity. Even if I have no way of knowing if others will vote, I should act as if they would vote, and they should act similarly. This is the logic of collective commitment that undergirds the morality of voting.

This approach to collective rationality should reduce the allure of free-riding – ie, the predisposition to gain from the effort of others without doing our fair share of the work needed to generate a collective benefit. However, there is nothing extraordinary in acting with the common good in mind in situations when self-interest is not jeopardised by doing so. In fact, people do this all the time, perhaps moved by what the Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen calls ‘a concern for decency of behaviour’, without their commitment overtaking their lives and other goals.

Basic morality doesn’t require us to be saints, and casting informed votes is not a heroic, saintly act. It requires minimal effort for most of us. To argue otherwise is to suggest that any form of helping others is morally optional because it requires ‘too much from us’. If we are set on the notion that any type of positive action towards others is morally voluntary because it demands slightly more than merely refraining from doing something bad, then consensus on the morality of voting will be forever elusive.

But so, too, will be consensus on the morality of so many other ways of improving the world. A society where citizens are too complacent to serve the collective good – including their own – is not a society worthy of the name.Aeon counter – do not remove

Previously published on aeon with Creative Commons License



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Do You Have to Receive Love to Be in Love? Mon, 06 Jul 2020 02:00:19 +0000 How a heartbreak changed my definition of love.

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There was a girl in college that I was just crazy about, and whenever I would see her, I’d get the weirdest feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t quite figure out what kind of psychological hold she had on me, but there was just something about her that made me weak in the knees.

It was not puppy love or infatuation but some kind of primal connection between us that I couldn’t put my finger on.

At the time, I believed she was everything I’d been looking for in my life. And because I’d not felt this way about anyone else before, I figured it must be a sign from God, cupid, the universe, or my soul telling me,

“This is the one!…This is the girl you’ve been looking for all your life.”

Was I lovesick?

You betcha I was.

But I didn’t tell anyone — not even to the object of my affection — about my feelings.

A large group of us would regularly hang out at a local pub near the campus in North Carolina. We’d eat burgers, drink craft beers, listen to great music, and laugh a lot.

She and I were always friendly.

We had this type of back and forth banter and volley of words that only she and I seemed to get. There was a sort of intellectual intercourse going on, which only confirmed my belief that we should be together.

Although I was smitten with her, I never put any pressure on her or made her feel uncomfortable. But she knew I was in love with her. And during a few weak and tipsy moments, I almost told her as much.

Everyone thought we’d make a great couple, except there was one big problem: she was already in a serious relationship with a guy she’d been with since high school.

I believe it’s possible to love two different people in your life for two entirely different reasons.

Her relationship with her boyfriend was a familiar and comfortable type of love. Their lives and that of their families were intertwined. And there was an expectation they’d get engaged soon, but he was dragging his feet.

And then there was the mutual, but unanticipated attraction we had for each other. We had an immediate connection that felt fresh, exciting, and inspiring.

But I realized I had much less equity in the relationship.

And if she were to ever be with me, it would’ve caused all kinds of problems for her.

In Another Life

One day over lunch, she and I talked about our relationship — if you could call it that. She acknowledged to me the connection we had, and she said that in another life, we might have been famous lovers.

But it couldn’t happen in her current situation because of her existing relationship with her boyfriend. I understood her obligation to see where this relationship went since they’d been together so long.

She owed him and herself that much.

And I knew I needed to bow out.

But the problem for me was that I didn’t know what to do with the ocean of intense feelings I had for her. It was not something I could turn off like a faucet valve. The hidden levers that poured the alchemy of love, psychology, and primal connection through my body were beyond my conscious reach.

I wished I could’ve turned off these feelings for her because the glimmer of hope for us was wrecking my life.

I found myself thinking about her all the time, and I prayed to God daily for some kind miracle to happen.

But it was not to be.

Although she and I would remain good friends, we would not become an item, a couple, or lovers. This reality twisted me up in knots for a while but then I had an epiphany.

. . .

Love Doesn’t Have To Come Back

I decided to take a week-long trip up to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina to think about what’s next for my life — without her in my life and head.

It was time I moved on, but I had no clue how to do that.

As I hiked through the trails of the mountains, I thought about how the path I was on was a one-way loop along the mountain edge and through the canyons. Anyone who walked that 6-mile trail started from the check-in point and walked in a counter-clockwise manner around a pathway that allowed you to take in the breathtaking views of the mountains, waterfalls, and forest.

Although you couldn’t take the mountains, rocks, or any of those views back home with you, you could appreciate them all you wanted to from afar.

This insight made me think about relationships.

There’s this tendency for people to assume that love has to be a two-way street for it to be called “love.” The assumption is: “If I give you my love, I need you to give me love back for me to feel ok,” like a fair exchange of goods.“And if you don’t give me love back, I can’t be at peace.”

But the more I thought about my old belief that love has to be a two-way street, the more I realized this way of thinking wasn’t really “love,” as much as it was my insecurities talking. My need for love to come back to me was based more on my lack of confidence in myself and my low self-esteem.

Sometimes what we call love is this belief that someone else will make us feel worthy, complete, repaired, and set for life, but we know it never works out that way.

That kind of love is not healthy.

The Mountain That Doesn’t Love Me

As I sat on a giant cliff overlooking the vastness of Blue Ridge mountains, I realized that I could appreciate the beauty of that mountain with incredible joy, calmness, and peace.

But I didn’t need that mountain to love me back.

Photo by Spenser Sembrat on Unsplash

My one-way directional love and appreciation for that mountain were sufficient, fulfilling, and restorative for me. I didn’t need or want anything else from the mountain, other than to maybe come back and see it again.

Well, the same goes for people.

My love and appreciation for this particular girl were sufficient, fulfilling, and restorative for me. I could send her love. But she didn’t have to reciprocate love back to me for me to be ok. My love for her was pure and was not dependent on her loving me back.

A Secure Love

Despite what pop culture, love songs, and Hallmark cards conspire to tell us, the way two people decide to love each other doesn’t have to be in synch, equal, or mutually tied together.

If both parties happen to love each other at the same time, great! But if not, it’s still ok for one person to love the other.

In the world of nature hiking, the admirer should not disturb the beauty of the environment, interrupt its growth, or mess with its ecology. Instead, the admirer should be content just to observe, witness, and enjoy this beauty from a distance, which is what I decided to do with the girl I loved.

And this realization that I didn’t require her to love me back gave me a sense of calm and peace, if not strength.

After I came back from my mountain trip, the girl and I ran into each other downtown. We talked for a bit, and she said I seemed different. I didn’t tell her about my epiphanies, but I no longer felt this need, desperation, or sense of urgency for her to love me back. It didn’t matter anymore.

I was secure and pleased to send out my one-way love to her by itself. And I felt free to enjoy my awe and love for her from afar in an undisturbed, non-intrusive way.

Time To Move On

As our young lives progressed and evolved, we both got busy in our careers. I eventually moved on with my life to open an office in a different city on the other side of the country. When she found out I was moving, she called to tell me she couldn’t believe I was leaving.

But it was time.

I let her be with her boyfriend. And I decided to stop interrupting the ecology of that relationship. I was content to observe and enjoy my love for her from afar with a calm, Zen-like feeling.

And then something unexpected happened to me.

Love Awaits

Like stumbling upon the world’s most beautiful waterfall, I ended up meeting a lady from New Zealand in an airport baggage claim area. We hit it off instantly and had a natural two-way kind of love. And I had no doubt she was my soul mate because I didn’t think or care about my past loves.

All that mattered now was my future with her.

We’ve been married six years and are now the proud parents of a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. (For more on this baggage claim story, you can read this story here.)

But even though we have a two-way love, I spend a lot of my time just observing my wife from afar. And I find it incredibly gratifying to know my love and awe for her is not dependent on her love for me.

It stands on its own.

Peace Of Mind

If you find yourself in love with someone that isn’t reciprocating, I encourage you not to make your feelings dependent on getting the love back from them, as I did previously. Just try loving them the way you would love a beautiful, awe-inspiring mountain. If you can practice loving this way, it will bring you much greater joy, peace, and fulfillment than you could ever imagine.

It will also help you learn to think about love, not as something dependent on reciprocation, but as something you can give out freely—with no expectations or need for a response.

PS: What Are The Chances?

I didn’t think I’d ever see the girl from college again. But amazingly, I ran into her not too long ago in the Los Angeles airport. She just happened to be standing in the TSA line with her former boyfriend, now husband, and their three kids.

The odds of us running into each other across the country in that line on that particular day and time is mindboggling to calculate.

But there we were.

We chatted for a moment, as our eyes and hearts searched around for that previous connection, but it wasn’t there anymore. And then it was time to say our goodbyes.

She asked me to give her a call sometime, and she even left a voicemail for me a few days later. How she got my number, I don’t know. But I never did call her back, and I never saw her again.

I’ve found my glorious mountaintop view in both my wife and daughter. And I’m pleased with how life turned out, even though you couldn’t have told me that back when I was in the grip of an unreciprocating love affair.

This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.


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