Modern Times · The Comfort Zone

The Rights Of Man.

This isn’t about Thomas Paine’s famous work. What I want to look at is the nature of the legal framework that treats citizens equally. I cannot include the British for they are subjects of the crown and as such have but few rights. Here in Europe, a citizen is a far more powerful figure. What’s more, they know it.

The problem with rights is subtle, in that if a person – say a council official – has to behave in a certain way, then they will do so because it is the law. Well, that’s the case in Germany where the law is followed to the letter – there are areas where it is not, but in governance it largely is. Here in Holland, foreigners such as myself can find themselves facing a more British style of governance – that is to say, outright discrimination. Whilst illegal and whilst it is antisocial does not stop the Dutch from discriminating; but then, such acts are usually buried in the subconscious – just as is the politeness of the German government official.

I have to add here that the usual British experience of German bureaucracy is one of obstructiveness – but then, if you approach a British official, you need to speak with them in a certain way if you are to achieve your end. Let me just say that the German bureaucracy is there to serve, not oblige. Oh, and if you speak to them in German, it usually helps things along a bit. Most of them do speak English; it is a politeness to speak in German – I have never met a British bureaucrat that speaks another European language.

I’ve rambled, as is usual with me: yet in this rambling I have already pointed to the key issue of this post. That regulations of various forms have to be applied from above. Germans are used to this, the British resent it. Yet in resenting it, the British actually acquiesce to their regulatory system as easily as any German – after all, the British have been inculcated to their social system long before any of them ever thought about making a choice. Just as the Germans were.

Which brings me to a question: how many people act out of what they were brought up to do, and how many people act out of the circumstances that surround them? The difference may seem irrelevant, but most social interaction is based on what we learned as children (and therefore could not consider for ourselves).

Those who discriminate cannot – and I must emphasize that they cannot – be doing so consciously. The natural attribute of the human is to act out of equality; discrimination speaks against this, it speaks of a prejudice and that very prejudice will have been implanted – if you will allow that turn of phrase – at an age before the individual can form any conscious choice in the matter. Most European men are misogynists, they speak down to women – but if you should ask any one of them, they will be most firm in their determination that they treat women equally. Ask another woman and you will get a less positive appraisal of the men who surround them – unless of course, you’re a man. Being the Untermensch teaches one a very great deal that the Übermensch will be oblivious to. But that is the challenge faced by men, and it is a challenge the moreso on account of its being something the Übermensch so glibly accepts.

This isn’t to say that all men discriminate, it is a fact that on account of their place in society that they need not address this particular issue. Those that do are as exemplary as they are rare. I will add that they are a pleasure to meet. Indeed, it is only those who have an open mind – or as so many, or is that phrased better as “so few”? – who have opened their mind who are the more human.

To be a human is to treat all as equally as one is able, the problem is that one must face the watertight ‘comfort zones’ of most people. In short, one must accept that they cannot and therefore will not deal with their challenges. They will remain forever blind to these, yet paradoxically they will happily charge others with the very things they are unaware of doing themselves.

I want to make it clear that the issue isn’t that one doesn’t have challenges in life; life would be extraordinarily dull without them. It is a matter of accepting them, and it is this single quality that marks out the mature human. Whatever background a person might have, if they can accept another equally – that is to say, if one meets them for the first time, they are ready and willing to listen to you. If they cannot offer this one common courtesy, it is more than likely that they are enclosed by their comfort zone. I will add that it is my experience that if they can converse, they are ‘open’ and they are aware of the true nature of their comfort zone; I have yet to meet someone who could not listen who subsequently learned to.

We have travelled a long way from rights. And well we might, for rights and the structure of a particular society go hand in hand. What is important is that those who do have the capacity to genuinely listen to all those they meet will learn something new from them. For everybody else there’s no learning needed: they know how the world turns.

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7 thoughts on “The Rights Of Man.

  1. It is true that if a person is brought up a certain way , be it a religious belief or a racist one maybe a misogynistic father it will influence the way that child developes into adulthood expecially if the parent [ s ] are of a strong nature , and character , they do take [ some of ] the faults of their parent’s with them weather they are male or female , occasionally the offspring may be the complete opposite .

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    1. The real thrust of this piece was that the things you mention form challenges in a person’s life – and it’s not the opposite that the child should become, but their own self. Free of what they grew up in, so to speak.

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      1. If a child’s upbringing is in a manor that is strong enough to form a part of their being their character he/she will know no difference it would be secound nature to act that way , to be a completely differently type of person they would have to have been the type of child that stays in their room , not speaking to family members a vertual recluse so to speak a loner ! I had a cousin who was exactly like this outside the family circle ( he’s deceased now )

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      2. Sorry missed this but our ; Because it is secound nature to act that way , it forms no challenges in life except for the normal life ones that is ?

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      3. “to be a completely differently type of person they would have to have been the type of child that stays in their room” Or the kind of child who runs away from home and joins the circus?

        Now that really would be a different way of living!

        There are other ways of doing it too, like John le Carré who bunked out of school to run away to Switzerland – where he found a place at the university in Basel. That kind of thing requires courage, and the willingness to learn another language – and if there is one thing that will challenge every corner of your life, it is learning a language in adulthood.

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      4. Unfortunately the British are not ones for the willingness to learn a secondary language , I did German in high school but appart from a few words and the ability to count in German , I have not retained much , and I have Google translation if needed , we as a people ( British ) are a rude ignorant race , I have heard this said many times that everyone should speak English this by the British people , the British can not even speak it properly and that’s the truth , I’m a Londoner you should hear me , my dad was a Londoner rhyming slang and all , but to the point he actually got out of the alleys and markets as a kid and went to grammar school , he was the only one to do so out of all his 5 brothers and 1 sister so he faced the challenge become a different person to what he was surely ? If I had half of his brains where would I be now ?

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      5. The British unwillingness – and their inability – to learn languages only means that this is a greater challenge.

        It is of note that the French will not speak in English unless spoken to first in French, even if this is to say “I’m sorry, but my French is not good enough to ask for what I wish.”

        And yes, your father is the kind of person I’m talking about. Only you don’t need intelligence, in our day and age that can so easily cripple – as you yourself have shown on your own blog in describing practitioners crippled by their own abilities to think! Humans are, if nothing else, a being of balance.

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