Veil of ignorance

As the poet remarked, where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.  Perhaps John Rawls, the American jurist and sociologist, had this tag in mind when he formulated his theory of what he called THE VEIL OF IGNORANCE.
Rawls devised his theory as a response to the question that has challenged political scientists and philosophers from the dawn of civilisation : How do we create a perfect and a perfectly just society, in which the needs and interests of all are looked after and protected ?
Rawls’ proposition was that the Constitution of a perfectly just society should be drawn up by a ‘panel of legislators’ who would be obliged to don a VEIL OF IGNORANCE as to who they might be in the future society they were planning, and what their status would be in it.
All the panellists would be ‘ignorant’ as to their identities in the social order as they had been asked to envisage.  For example, someone who was male, white, well-educated and wealthy might be RE-BORN in the society being planned as a black woman, with little or no formal education and who was on the lowermost rung of the economic ladder.
The VEIL OF IGNORANCE the legislators were made to adopt as to who and what they might end up in the hypothetical society would  ensure that each of them would try and frame laws that would guarantee them social and economic justice, no matter in what AVATAR they were born, rich or poor, male or female, ethnically privileged or ethnically oppressed.
Rawls’ VEIL OF IGNORANCE could prove of use not just to a student of political science but to all those seeking new means and methods to enlarge the meditative discipline in search of the expansion of consciousness.


Veil of ignoranceThe


Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber raised the question : How can I transcend into Thou ?  How do I shed the strait-jacket of my individual ego and discover the infinity of mirrors which reflect the inter-penetrative consciousness of all Being ?

In the guise of an exercise in political game theory, Rawls’ VEIL OF IGNORANCE is a form of ———— do-it-yourself experiment of your DHARMA and REINCARNATION.  If I am ignorant of what I shall be in my next life, what sort of world would I wish to be born into, and what can I do, here and now,  to try and give shape to that world of the future ?
Seen in this light, the VEIL OF IGNORANCE becomes a practical and practicable aid in creating and buttressing empathy, the ability to step out of your own ego-bound identity into that of someone totally, perhaps even different from you.
Today, in the shrill clamour of the ‘tolerance/intolerance’ furore, Rawls’ VEIL OF IGNORANCE might be a useful device in transforming the prevailing climate of ‘enmity’ to that of ’empathy’.  If it could do that, SUCH IGNORANCE WOULD INDEED PROVE TO BE BLISS.
————– Jug Suraiya.
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Your differentiator

What is your differentiator ?  Are you one of a crowd or do you stand apart ?  What distinguishes you from ‘others’ and gives you that ‘cutting edge’ ?——— “I’m not like the rest.  I’m different”.  How often we hear people say this in varied contexts.  To some extent it is true —— all of us are unique, different from each other.  It is heartening to know that no two snowflakes are alike and all fingerprints are unique.  Indeed, very few things in Nature are exactly alike : each cloud, every flower, tree, every Life less ordinaryleaf, and even water molecules are different from each other.  Certainly, Nature never meant humans to be clones of each other.  Our DNA, circumstances of birth, culture, upbringing, influences and exposure —- all ensure each individual has striking differences from another.
But we ignore that reality and pour ourselves into readily available casts.  We model ourselves on available leads, become part of groups and lose our individual identities.  Looking around for affirmations and approvals, we end up as clones of each other.  Drowning the voice of our individual drummer, we march to tunes that have the stamp of “social approval”.
And yet the niggling voice within sometimes asserts itself, and we declare we are different.  Of course we are.  But, do we really appreciate or even understand our own “differentiator” ?  Do we work upon and display these to our advantage ?  “If you only read the books everyone is reading, you can only thing what everyone else thinking,” says Haruki Murakami inNORWEGIAN WOODS.  True.  And similarly, if you only do what everyone else is doing, wear what others are wearing, echo opinions and reflect attitudes you encounter elsewhere ——- YOU CAN ONLY BE ONE OF MANY.
If you want to lead a life less ordinary, it is important to create your differentiator and nurture.  Just like a differentiator helps grow or kill a business, a differentiator for an individual gives him that “competitive edge” over others. This is what will make you stand out, be the one who is selected from amongst many, the cynosure of all eyes in a crowded room.
To identify your differentiators, focus on understanding and accepting yourself as you are, without wanting to be someone else.  This will help you naturally gravitate towards things that enhance and add value to you.  You will learn to develop skills and use these to your best advantage without looking around for guidance or waiting for a sign.  You will develop your own individual personalities as well as style statements.
It is important to develop your signature style, be it personality traits, attitude or style statement.  It could be the pursuit of a hobby that lifts you above the rest, or a philosophy or outlook you display. unique
Step out of boxes you have been taught to grow up within, and explore possibilities beyond.  Consciously attempt to do things in your own unique way.  Certain traits become the hallmark of a profession.  Bureaucrats will be pompous, politicians will be smoothly devious, journalists will e intrusive, clerks will be irritable, scientists will be absent-minded, lawyers argumentative and doctors harried.  But really, must you ?  Some are smart enough to consciously step away from adopting the traits associated with a group or a profession., they develop their own differentiators and attitudes.  These are the ones instantly marked “different”.
Different yes, but different from what ?  It is very easy to be different if difference alone is the agenda.  Wear strange clothes, walk in a strange manner, be rude amongst polite people and take on an anti-social stance.  You are different.  However, being subversive or an object of ridicule is not the point.  Nor is the idea to stand out for the heck of it.  Your differentiator has to be real and true to you, as you understand yourself.  Then alone is it enticing and exciting.
Remember, in order to be effective, the differentiator has to define you and your agenda, not be the agenda itself.
——————– vinitadawra.nangia@timesgroup.com.

A hero hidden in every one of us

Every one is born with special qualities.  But, these qualities are given in the form of “potential.”  It is the duty of everyone to discover this “potential” and make it an “actuality” through wise planning.  Each of us is required to play a heroic role in society.  An individual can do so only when he discovers his “unique quality” and tries to realise it through objective planning.
heroJust as a person has been endowed with a “unique quality”, he has been given a “unique mind”.  If a person objectively utilises his mind, he will be able to perform that special role for which he is destined.  To do this, one has to prevent oneself from becoming the victim of prejudice, reactionary thinking, a superiority or inferiority complex, overestimation or underestimation of one’s case or allowing external factors to condition one’s mind.  These are derailing forces, and if one can save oneself from them, he will emerge as the hero of his time.
Apart from these internal exercises, there is a supporting element in the external world ———– a merit-based society where an inherent process is initiated, which can be described as “automatic channelization”.  When a person sets out in life, there are a number of options open to him.  He may enter a profession, and then discover that he is not excelling in it, so he tries another option, excels in it, and finds that society is giving him exactly what e deserves.  He then adheres himself to this role and devotes his energy to it until he emerges a hero.
For the supporting factor to function properly, the condition is no favour.  The individual should know that he will not be able to gain a position unless he merits it.  This is termed “automatic channelization” ——— a form of internal mechanism.
 Discontent is innate in every individual, and it is this discontent that pushes him towards other options if he feels he is not excelling in the course of his choice.  To develop a heroic personality and build a better society, it is important to follow the course of nature.  The natural course for a person is to discover himself through self-study.  He should not let himself get distracted by anything else, or let any excuse intervene in this matter.  No one else should be allowed to dictate to him, but he should rather aim at his discovered target with an uncompromising spirit.
The other responsibility is of the system.  It is the duty of the system to run society on a purely merit-based principle.
——– Maulana Wahiduddin Khan.

Why children won’t sit still

Not every over-active child has ADHD.  A five-year-old finds it difficult to sit still for long in class.  Next door, a six-year-old has difficulty staying focused.  Parents of both the children have made their diagnoses : ADHD.  Their teachers seem to agree.  But, according to child counsellors, the two children are being, well, children.
childrenSymptoms of hyperactivity are usually apparent in most young pre-schoolers and are nearly always present before the age of seven.  Doctor Richard House says, “Modern educational thinking is making fundamental errors in children’s early development, which then generates behavioural disturbances ——— these get misdiagnosed as “medical problems” for which the child is assumed to require medical treatment.”
 In a recent blog, Angela Hanscom, a paediatric occupational therapist from New Hampshire, said there’s only one reason why more children have attention issues these das.  They are not getting enough movement.  “Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely plat outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues and the hectic schedules of modern-day society.  Children are not moving nearly enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.  Obsessive hours of doodling behind a computer screen and fiddling on iPads and cell phones is making matters worse.”
Anthony Pellegrini, emeritus professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota, questions if we are depriving our children of normal forms of social play.  And if yes, is the incidence of ADHD, aggression and delinquency symptomatic of a society that has forgotten how to play.
Across the world, too many schools are clamping down on breaks, while choosing to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic.  A 2010 study found an association between physical fitness and the brain in 9 and 10-year-old children.  How does exercise children photographybenefit a child’s brain ?  The brain produces a protein called BDNF, or brain-derived neurotropic factor, when the body is moving.  This protein helps build nerve-cell connections and the stronger the connections, the easier it is for children to retain information.  So, active children tend to experience better cognitive performance and focus, have more rapid reaction time and are likely to perform better at school.  They learn to be more social, gain friendships and sleep well, a crucial element in mental development.
Rajani Pattabhiraman, Principal of Euro School in Mumbai, says, “We have found that children are doubly attentive when they come to class refreshed.  Therefore, the day’s time-table is designed in such a way that classes are interspersed with skating, taekwondo, dance or craft.”  A tiny Nordic nation has known this secret for decades.  On a regular school day, students and teachers in Finland take a 15-minute break after every 45mins of class.  Students head outdoors to play and chit-chat with friends., teachers go to the lounge and unwind.  Tim Walker, an American teacher in Helsinki, questioned the Finnish practice of giving 15-minute breaks each hour.  But he became a convert after he saw the difference it made to his students.  On his blog, Taught by Finland, he writes : no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom……… my Finnish students would —– without fail —– enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps {and} were more focused during lessons.”
During the course of her research, Hanscom found that a majority of children, surveyed, had poor core strength and balance.  The restricted movement pattern means that many children are walking around with an under-developed vestibular(balance) system.  In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their bodies in all directions, for hours at a time.  A child’s body displays a natural reaction ——— FIDGETING ——– so as to get the movement the body needs to “turn the brain on”.  Instead, teachers ask them to sit still and pay attention, putting their brain into “sleep mode”.  Can schools consider extending recesses ?  Teachers and Principals are unwilling to get into this debate, with completion of course work a primary worry.
Doctor Richard House, child psychologist and editor of “Too  Much, Too Soon” suggests that until age six, a child’s physical development should take precedence over cognitive learning.  Physical development needs to occur first, because if cognitive, quasi-formal learning is engaged with prematurely, this can actually interfere with the child’s overall holistic development.
——Khushali P Madhwani

Respect

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RESPECT is a positive feeling of ESTEEM or DEFERENCE for a person or other entity, and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem.  Respect can be both given and / or received.  Depending on an individual’s cultural reference frame, respect can be something that IS EARNED.  Respect is often thought of as earned or built over time.
 
Courtesies that show respect include simple words and phrases like “thank you” — in the West, simple physical gestures like a “slight bow” —- in the East or even a “smile” or “direct eye contact”.  
 
(1) The biggest ingredient, in a best friend, is someone whose actions you RESPECT, and who you can truly BE YOURSELF around. 
 
(2) There is no RESPECT for others without HUMILITY IN ONE’S SELF 
 
(3) RESPECT is what WE OWE; LOVE what WE GIVE. 
 
(4) One of the most sincere forms of RESPECT, is actually listening to what another has to say.  (5) When you are content to be SIMPLY YOURSELF, and don’t compare or compete, everybody will RESPECT you.