見解 Perception

所有關係的基礎都建立於感知上。即便是宗族血親也遵循這個模式。每日郵報刊登了美國慈善家Brooke Astor之子(85歲)偷了母親的財富,在談到家庭關係時有著悲傷的共鳴。她兒子Anthony Marshall被控偷走患有阿茲海默症母親的財產,且請來當局調查此事的正是Marshall的兒子。Marshall被起訴後遭定罪,「陪審團判定Marshall犯了十四項罪名,包括一級竊盜與預謀詐欺,但有兩項被判無罪,偽造商業紀錄與一級重竊。他的共同被告是房地產律師Francis X. Morrissey Jr.被判五項罪名,包括預謀詐欺、同謀罪與偽造文書罪。」是什麼原因導致一個富有的人想偷得更多?答案無疑是缺乏自我價值與對自我的尊重。讓我們期待自己的家庭可以做得更好。

這現象在世界政治中尤其盛行。身為人類,若我們被告知自己是世上最棒的人,住在最美好的地方,我們就很容易帶著這個觀念過生活,這是種本能的傲慢。若兩邊都認為自己是最好的,又何來政治妥協?要找答案,首先就得追求平等。就最積極的層面來說,這意味著雖然有些人過著比較好的生活,但在機會之前人人都是平等的。「許多現代角色如議會總理、美國首席法官、東正教主教等就符合這兩個條件:他們的地位乘載著更高的權力,但在同胞面前,人人平等。」另一個要素則是基本禮儀。

然而有些懷疑論者與不信任者的程度簡直到了唯我論的境地。你與我是兩個截然不同的存在。我們之中有許多人是在父母、同儕與社會的指引下發展成人。我是在冷戰高峰期間出生,那時世界共產主義正向遵循民主的各地伸出魔爪,我們必須自我警惕,否則原本的生活可能會消失不見。無數的報紙文章、書籍、電影以及廣播節目都大力放送著我們的生活有多麼好、多理智、多歡樂;共產則是邪惡、民智不開的代表。1977年我到波蘭求學,在華沙的蕭邦機場戰戰兢兢、誠惶誠恐地登陸。雖然很期待學習祖母的母語─波蘭語,但前方還有什麼在等著我嗎?出乎意料地,我踏入了一個彷彿時空凝結的美好文明世界中,禮儀、服裝與社交基礎都是二次大戰前的風格。共產主義不過是個變種嵌合體。

直到今日歷史學家方能以合理的角度剖析共產主義,共產主義有其弊端,資本主義又何嘗不是如此?

每天試著尋找生活中神奇、美麗的事物。

 

All relations are fundamentally based on perception. Even blood associations, family links, are subjected to a created paradigm. A Daily Mail article about Brooke Astor’s 85-year-old son stealing her fortune has sad resonance when it comes to our family ties. The son, Anthony Marshall, was accused of robbing his Alzheimer addled mother of her wealth. It was his son who, ultimately, contacted the authorities to investigate the mistreatment of his grandmother. Marshall was charged and convicted: “The jury convicted Marshall of 14 counts, including first-degree larceny and scheming to defraud, but acquitted him of two charges, falsifying business records and another first-degree grand larceny. His co-defendant, estate lawyer Francis X. Morrissey Jr. was convicted on all five charges, including scheming to defraud, conspiracy and forgery.” What would induce an already wealthy man to steal even more? This surely defies any rational explanation: the answer lies in a lack of self worth and self respect. Let us hope that our families do better.

This is especially true in world politics. If we are told as human beings that we are the best people in the world and we live in the best country in the world, we tend to adopt this stance over time: a type of intrinsic hubris. How then can you have any political accommodation if both sides believe that they are the best? The solution lies in primus inter pares, first among equals. In its most positive sense, this means that, though some may have a higher station in life, we are all the same when it comes to opportunity. ”Various modern figures such as the Prime Minister of parliamentary regimes, the Chief Justice of the United States and the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church fall under both senses: bearing higher status and various additional powers while remaining still mainly equal to their peers in important senses.” An additional caveat would have to be common decency.

However, some levels of suspicion and distrust are so profound that they enter the realm of pure solipsism: you are not a homo sapien, but some other life form not on the same tableau as my own. Many of us develop a position predicated on what our parents, peers and society tells us. I was born during the height of the Cold War. World Communism was spreading her talons around the leg of the eagle of democracy: we had to be vigilant—we had to be on guard or our way of life would disappear. Countless newspaper articles, books, movies and radio programs trumpeted the clarion call to arms. We were good and rational and fun; they were evil and unthinking and dour. I went to school in Poland in1977. I disembarked from the airplane at Warsaw’s Chopin Airport (Lotnisko Chopina w Warszawie) with great fear and trepidation. Though I wanted to learn Polish, my grandparent’s language, what awaited me? Surprisingly, I fell into a wonderful, wonderful civilization that had stopped in time. Manners, customs and social relationships were based on pre-WW II concepts: the communist monster was but a concocted chimera.

It is only now that historians are able to analyze this time in its proper historical context. The net result is that though communism had its demons, so does capitalism.

Every day look for something magical and beautiful.

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