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Koinonia

An interesting new term for me – Koinonia.  In Greek, it means ‘talking through’.

In a broader and deeper sense, it refers to the “spirit of fellowship” principle.

The Greeks believed that the key to establishing dialogue is to exchange ideas without trying to change the other person’s mind. This is not the same as discussion, which from its Latin root means to “dash to pieces.” The basic rules of dialogue for the Greeks were: “Do nott argue,” “Do not interrupt,” and “Listen carefully.”

To clarify your thinking, you must suspend all untested assumptions. Being aware of your assumptions and suspending them allows thought to flow freely. Free thought is blocked if we are unaware of our assumptions, or unaware that our thoughts and opinions are based on assumptions. For instance, if you believe that certain people are not creative, you are not likely to give their ideas fair consideration. Check your assumptions about everything and try to maintain an unbiased view.

Say what you think, even if your thoughts are controversial.

This practice by Einstein and his colleagues was observed and recorded in “The Spirit of Konoinia”.   During these interactions, they exchanged and dialogued about ideas which later became the foundations of modern physics. They exchanged ideas without trying to change the other’s mind and without bitter argument. They felt free to propose whatever was on their mind.  They always paid attention to each other’s views and established an extraordinary professional fellowship. This freedom to discuss without risk led to the breakthroughs that physicists today take for granted.

It was Alex Osborne’s idea to illustrate this concept in the picture below.   His notion is that it needs a systematic effort and disciplined practice to produce ideas in a group.  Ideas have to be offered by the participants one at a time.   One member records ideas and suggestions on a flip chart or chalk board.  All withhold judgments, regardless of personality differences work on common goal.

Group A represents a group of creative ideas, in an un-inhibiting environment.

Group B also represents a group of creative ideas, in an inhibiting environment.  Which group do you prefer to join?

While circle A looks expanding, circle B is contracting and restricting creative thoughts.  The restrictive nature of the forces (due to trusting issue, fear of having silly questions, reluctance to openly share) in Circle B even make the circle appear smaller than it is (although they are identical in size).

 

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1. Does a true scientist (or any truly educated person) have the social responsibility to behave a bit more responsibly with more open, logical attitude outside of his/her area of work?
2. If the answer to my previous question is “Yes”, then, can we afford to continue compartmentalizing inquisitiveness and rational thinking?
3. Lastly, is it at all possible to become rational in some issues but not in many others?

Intrigued by this article at Nature Forum, and triggered by the author’s questions, I have now brought this topic out of my belly after holding it in for so long …
Truthfully, the trigger happened three years ago, when I had a conversation with a Vietnamese elderly – a healthy, lovely woman in her late 70s. I always commented how good and young she looked. It was quite pleasant seeing how she loved to dress up and take care of her self, while she was also such an active lady, gardening and doing houswork from inside out. She loved to talk about how she took care of her kids even now they are in grown-up ages, and share her family stories. She loved talking to me ( I think I am good with seniors). How many kids does she have? I think she said 8, older half of whom are girls and the younger half are boys. It was just one sentence she uttered during one of our conversations – “just being a (did she say “good”?) human is enough …” Wow, not all Asian parents can say that, I thought. A Vietnamese traditional mother can expect alot from her kids but to her, she realized that her kids are always hers and do not expect them to be perfect, I guess at some point after all the mundanes of life … She struggled with approving her son’s marriage with a Filippinos girl. She was proud of her son who is a doctor, who and another turned out to be gay men. She admitted having forced her daughter into being married at a young age (in college years) to an older doctor, then her tone changed as she did not feel happy for her daughter’s marriage life. How many more such Vietnamese mothers who could come out of that hard-shell and become so true to themselves. Not that many…
So back to the 3 questions above, here are my answers/comments:
1. Yes and No. First we have to define, what is “open” or “logical”; what or when to be considered outside of work. Traditionally, scientists always strive to be good examples, at least for their children and for their own values, serious and humble at the same time. We can hardly see a scientist who is dressed-down, bikes to school/lab, and has such characters nowadays… There is only one Isăc Newton or one Albert Einstein. Scientists do not make as much earning as their (working) peers do in the same profession. And there are amateur scientists and scientists. The competition and the desire to accomplish more have put more pressure on them and unfortunately, a minority of them has become greedy and dishonest. They are human beings, after all. They don’t call themselves “geniuses”. We the community of admirers praised them “genius”.
Is there such a condition as in “to be a (good) scientist, you have to be a good human being”? Another saying, “does preacher practice what he preaches?”. I notice that scientists do have good analytical thinkings, but sometimes some (but not all) have no common sense out of a life situation. As an adult, we are responsible for our own acts and words. Don’t we teach our kids not to lie, to steal, to kill? Then these are the basic principles. To a higher level, we all should have our own established principles. Practice makes perfect. Knowing that habit is the result of recurring activities, we should learn to train our thoughts, our daily acts and reactions into healthy habits. It would be ideal if we all keep our ethics consistent in all and every aspect of life. Someone, an anlyst or a reporter on a news channel recently broke out that “Humans are the only animal that has or is clearly aware of our own morality…” which then led to my another question, “what moraliti(es) do humans have?” What’s moral for one maybe not for other? We need exception rules here.
A scientist has no choice except to kill one mouse or one rabbit to learn how their brain reacts to certain concentration of saline intake, to help cure the high blood pressure and obesity in humans.
Does that define him/her as immoral or a bad human being?

2. “compartmentalizing” or “acting accordingly” or “multi-faceted”? I agree with another commenter. If a person is rational in true sense, s/he will be that way all the time.

3. Talking about rational again – What are those “some” issues? Define! Well, we’re human beings and sometimes act silly, or goof up a little bit, but have to define a fine line between what’s acceptable and what’s not accpetable. And simply, just being yourself, true self is good enough.
It is ok to be divergent, but keep your own values consistent.

Lastly, how about putting all irrational people in a rooom and hear them talk – it would be hilarious. A comedy show, I think. It was just a funny thought while sitting in a meeting and somebody mentioned having some staff go to a “Rational Thinking ” class.

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In recent years, the gps tracking technology has expanded into different industries – from leisure/travel to cellular communication to vehicle/truck fleet tracking, law enforcement, banking/packaging… “Little Buddy Child Tracker” device sold by Best Buy helps parents track their children ‘s whereabouts. Should we have similar device for tracking partner? About a year ago, fascinated by the gps tracking technology, I mentioned the idea of tracking a human with a chip embedded in human body (the arm, especially). The use of these chips is not new – as far as department of intelligence concerned. We see them popular in many spy and scy movies. The agents for sure do not like much about the control issue. But when it comes to relationship, it is the “trust” issue. The controversial’s kick in. I don’t mean all men cheat. But I believe, men and women cheat. There are women who are faithful and take care of home, kids, and husbands in every way still cheat. When you have that suspicion in mind and can’t find time to fit those questions such as “Where were you tonight?”, “Why is there lipstick on your collar?”, “Who is this phone call to?”, “Why are there unfamiliar charges on the credit card statement?”, “Why aren’t we ever intimate any more?”, on and on…, will this technology help catch a partner who cheats, ensure the suspicious men/women of their partners’ integrity, and keep them entrusted in each other? What if he cheats right in his office/house where his wife expects him to be at that time? Cynical I may be. But integrity is a hard-to-find quality nowadays. Leaders are trained to lead with integrity, but they are also humans at the same time. But wait a minute, aren’t we even more evolved humans?
Bernie Madoff or Tiger Woods or John Edwards are a few example of power-abuse. They cheated “just because they thought they could” (per Bill Clinton) without necessarily thinking of the consequence…
Spyware might help provide evidences. But when the trust is broken to the extent that a gps tracking chip needs to be used, the relationship is fragile or already at the probationary stage – like a form of “punishment” or “jail time”. Communication hurts; emotion dies; slight chance of holy rescue if there is.
The keys are respect and responsibility. We adults need to continually learn the word “respect”. In my opinion a “real man” is somebody who treats his wife with total respect, loves her no matter what and is a good dad to the children they have had together. Being committed to your love takes not only respect and self-respect, but also takes constant work. Each partner in the relationship takes charge of preventing the “cheating” from ever happening. You are responsible for your own act(s). If your act was a mistake, apologize and undo your act, then learn to forgive your self and each other. You both will grow out of that mistake, re-nurture each other so that your relationship will grow stronger. Sometimes things don’t always work the way we expect. Frustration from work from business from life is inevitable. But frustration from between the partners should be eliminated. I would discourage the couples from saying “I am frustrated…”. It can put your partner in sunken feeling before you finish your sentence. Instead, ask questions such as “how would you feel if …” and discuss the “why”, the feelings.

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If you have email and have used email, I am sure you have come across at least once in your internet life this kind of email. The email that asks you to forward to 100 people and you’d be blessed or lucky and winning lottery… Did you read, and/or forward? I received this kind of chain email so many times, and who is it from? It is from my sister!
Geez, I wonder if she ever reads these, or just is enthusiastically pre-wired to just click and send/forward. So this time I decided to write back with a dry sense of humor:

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My dry humor – Re: Fwd: [FWD: FW: Feng Shui (read – Please don’t delete)]

From: Lyna Le
To/Bcc:

——————————————————————————–

1. Chain letter is considered SPAM. While you have nice intention of sharing “wisdom”, you’re sharing everyone’s email addresses. A lot of people do not like their privacies being shared around the world. My 2cents for email etiquette: There is “BCC” for you to use and hide email addresses of your circle; or remove people’s email addresses from the message’s content. Resize the message. Consider people ‘s computer limitations.

2. Why wouldn’t someone get bothered by these changes of font color from red to green to purple.., big font to small font, small case to upper case inside the message? Don’t you feel like you’re being yelled at while reading these? Wouldn’t you want to enjoy reading a more eye-pleasing message?
It would be a big surprise if someone spend time scrolling down to read this entire message, while not even touching or finishing reading a magazine for years. Yeah, you know who. 🙂 Talking about “click and just send”, or “delete”, it seems we are all pre-wired by these chain mail?
…..
Even a preacher can’t practice what they preach. What do you think of that “read – but don’t delete” ?

Hope you take it as my dry humor for today.

Peace, folks.

START OF THE CHAIN E-MAIL
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Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2009 09:26:20 -0700
From: @yahoo.com
Subject: Fwd: Feng Shui (read – Please don’t delete)
To: @hotmail.com; g

— On Tue, 10/20/09, MikeSubject: .

Begin fo

Feng Shui
This is without a doubt one of the nicest good luck forwards I have received.. Hope it works for you — and me!

Lotus Touts: You have 6 minutes

There’s some mighty fine advice in these words, even if you’re not superstitious. This Lotus Touts has been sent to you for good luck from the Anthony Robbins organization. It has been sent around the world ten tim es so far.

Do not keep this message.

The Lotus Touts must leave your hands in 6 MINUTES. Otherwise you will get a very unpleasant surprise. This is true, even if you are not superstitious, agnostic, or otherwise faith impaired.

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
…..

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800px-Chopin_at_Singapore_Botanical_GardensGrowing up as a kid I loved listening to all kinds of music. I was not exposed to any musical environment. Mom was too busy earning bread for us to think about having any of us taking musical class. Plus, she believes in education, education, and education. The next door neighbor in Nhatrang had radio. I listened to whatever they listened. The morning BBC at the time broadcast from overseas allowed me to learn some Vietnamese songs, old and new at the time. I remember me writing down the songs I overheard from their radio. There were afternoon sing-a-song teaching program for children, foreign music request program every Sunday morning. So I collected all songs in my mind and/or jotted them down into a notebook, and learned different songs by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bonney M, Modern Talking, Wham, ABBA, Julio Iglesias, even some french songs. I learned to sing along and then sing to my younger siblings, especially my younger sister who asked me to sing for her noonnap. Later on, living in Bien Hoa, Mom bought us radio-double cassette system and TV. I had more interest in tuning into different stations. I was into the classics station and would have it on to put me to sleep at night. The cassette musical tapes I had were given by the seller, and I listened to them over and over again until I transferred them to a longer ribboned tape (90 min) and overwrote the tape with my favorite songs from the radio stations. I loved the beats of the music and started picking up some ballroom-dance steps from a girl-friend (Phuong Thao). Speaking of Thao, she is an artist herself; she could draw very well. So, I went to sleep with classics and woke up in the morning dancing to the “beats”. I exercised, practiced the be-pop and cha-cha in the mornings. My mom and sister still talk jokingly about me “sweeping the floor in the morning”. I realized that was the beginning of what put me into the beats and into body shaping, and it did indeed help building some gestures into me. Then I got into music-exchange with school friends. Of course, these were the Vietnamese musical notes or songs made before 1975, which at the time was banned because they were considered by Vietnamese Communist as “nhac nguy doi truy” (addictive, non-patriotic, brain-washing music).
I could sing well. The age of karaoke in the 90’s proved that. Sometimes my mom and sisters encouraged me to participate into the contests. I did think about that; but I never felt a need to do such a thing, or to become a singer. I did sing at New Year’s celebration or cultural events. I am not timid. I enjoyed doing karaoke with friends, and yes, they called me singer or “ca si Yen-Nhi”. One thing I learned about myself is I like strong-willed or strong-spirited music, while most of Vietnamese music is so sad; they were all about one person departing, broken-hearted girls singing out for love. That is not what I would do on stage. So I’d rather choose the music of youth or young romance, of nationalism, of nature to sing. In other words, the songs I perform have to be meaningful to me. I admit music is in my blood. My maternal grandfather with his years of  playing french horn for french military had an influence on my musical talent. He taught me the musical keys. My father was active in community, was a soccer coach, played tennis when he was young, and had good voice. He loved singing to songs and to poems. I see I am a copy of him in that aspect sometimes. I am a truth seeker, as somebody says that to me. To really know the what and the how of music, I inquired more on how to appreciate music and arts, how to play piped organ (the one that is as high as the church building and requires you play with feet and hands), and tried to learn playing flute but my lungs are too weak. I ordered a brand-name $200-clarinet for that class, and unfortunately returned it after three months.
Years went by with my my own evolution, I turned to music when I need to relax. I guess my passion varies. The same with music. I changed taste from time to time. I guess, it does that to everybody, throughout different stages of their lives. But I can always go back to the roots. I can see myself confident when presenting myself or conducting my manner. I think that is part of what built me up as a person today. I see myself as a contributor, rather than an attention-grabber.

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Top 10 list of the dumb things we can all do from time to time, if we are not careful – By Ken Warren.

1 – reading another person’s behaviour in an unnecessarily negative light, not finding a better way to see the situation, if that is possible. When we mis-read their behaviour and don’t cut them any slack, we tend to respond in very human ways.
2 – not thinking before we speak or act. When we do this, often what we have to say comes out badly, at the wrong time, or we don’t talk at all. When we don’t think, we are tempted to do the same thing that helped create the problem in the first place.
3 – simply never finding a good time to talk due to concern about restarting an argument or unproductive conversation. The trouble with this approach is that many matters remain unresolved and the same issues come up again and again.
4 – focusing solely on what the other person is doing wrong, trying to change their behaviour, rather than simply keeping the focus on what we are doing. When we do this, we are effectively trying to control what is out of our control rather than looking at any contribution we may be making.
5 – insisting we be heard first rather than giving genuine understanding to how the other person is seeing things and how strongly they are feeling. If ever you watch a couple of people arguing, you will see them effectively saying, “Shut up and listen to me!”
6 – pretend you don’t have any personal flaws. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst personal flaws you can have, making it hard for you to give genuine apologies, make amends, or learn from your mistakes. It is also very, very annoying for other people to be constantly blamed for interactions in which they feel you have also made a contribution.
7 – not taking other people’s sensitivities into account. This makes it easy to offend or hurt them even when this has not been our intention. Rather than treading carefully around issues that have been hurtful to them, we tell them they are over-reacting, to get over it, or to sort themselves out in therapy.
8 – to think that our way of seeing things is the only way. When we believe this, we tend to try to pressure the other person to come around to our perspective.
9 – to think that other people are wired the same as you. People are different in what helps them to feel happy and have different ways of doing things. But it is the way we deal with differences that is important. By accepting that people operate differently or see things differently, it becomes easier to accept difference or negotiate a common understanding for the future.
10 – to make choices to meet our needs, but in ways not respectful of other people’s needs. For example, we throw ourselves into our work instead of giving priority to the needs of our family. Or we have an affair, drink heavily, or spend too much time on the computer, all of which are not respectful of our partner’s needs. When you don’t take other people’s needs into account, or incorrectly target your efforts, they will not feel inspired to show consideration to you.

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