Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 139

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The Martinshof Story - A Philosophy of Happiness - Life Awareness - Maps & other Text series

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Monday & Tuesday, February 1 & 2 2010 (diary, politics, Tony Abbott)

Surf Rowing Competition, Mooloolaba 2009 This weekend we had a Australian Surf Rowing event on Mooloolaba Beach. Overcast and rainy conditions for the weekend did not lessen the enthusiasm of the competitors, but the spectator crowd was perhaps smaller than usual.
We are feeling here the effect of former Cyclone "Olga" which has roamed about the northern parts of Queensland for the past week or so, flooding large areas there. Heavy rain squalls are gradually moving south and are affecting us here now. Very good news for farmers.

Monday I have my annual checkup with my GP Jenny Cooke, discussing the test results. My PSA (prostate reading) is finally back to normal (2.9), cholesterol slightly higher than previous years but still OK. But my liver is slightly inflamed so I will give up my gin and tonics, go easy on the brandy and try to stick to beer and wine in moderate quantities.
There is a strong wind and the surf is pretty rough, but still safe to swim in provided I stay in waist deep water away from the large breakers. It is wonderful and exhilarating, being thrashed around in the foamy water. After lunch I give a bridge lesson to some of my former students. We have a pleasant afternoon together.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, late 2009 Tuesday morning our weekly bridge session at Diddilliba, after that my usual swim (again foamy seas) and lunch.

The Liberal-National Coalition Opposition (I read in The Australian Newspaper) is rapidly gaining ground on the Labour Government. With 48% they are now just 4 points behind the Government (52%), and with their primary vote they are in fact 1 point ahead (41-40%) for the first time since the 2007 election.

This good result "despite Tony Abbott's recent comments on virginity" (in The Australian Women's Weekly magazine) which has angered some women !!!
And I ask myself : "Are these women so stupid, or what ??"   Here is what Tony Abbott said in reply to the reporter's question :

When Tony Abbott was asked about the advice he would give his daughters about premarital sex he answered :
"I would say to my daughters, if they were to ask me this question, I would say . . it is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don't give it to someone lightly, that is what I would say."

Abbott never implied he would give different advice to sons, if he had them, nor that his daughters should remain virgins until they married, nor did he imply that he expected all women to live according to this edict.

I personally can see nothing wrong with this statement, in fact I find it very moving and quite beautiful.
In this modern world, where the sex experience for so many appears to be similar to having an ice cream with no moral (or emotional) value attached to it whatsoever, we can well do with more statements in this vain.

Hysterical attacks by women and some media reporters who clearly did not comprehend what Abbott was saying, and political point scoring by Labour politicians like Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard (Prime Minister Rudd remained conspicuously silent on this issue) reflect an attitude which I find most deplorable and utterly distasteful.

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Wednesday & Thursday, February 3 & 4 2010 (diary, Anthony Trollope)

'Barchester Towers' by Anthony Trollope I am at present reading through some of the novels by Anthony Trollope (1815-1882).
He has a most engaging style of writing, frequently addressing the reader directly with side remarks or comments as to the action or thoughts of one of his characters or where the story is heading to.   This was much frowned upon by the audiences at the time and strongly criticised by his contemporary Henry James and others.
I like it very much however and understand his strong desire (which I have too) to engage his reader directly, creating a personal bond between himself and each and everyone of his audience. But it must have required considerable courage at the time as such a thing was just not done and considered very improper in those days.

Anthony Trollope worked for part of his life in Ireland (as a Postmaster), and finding and proclaiming its inhabitants most agreeable people went also very much against the grain of the English in his days.

Good writers (or rather the ones I prefer to read) include aspects of their own philosophy and ideas in their stories. Sometimes these are the underlying message of part or all of their story, sometimes these are small cameos of ideas expressed by one of the characters.
Trollope, predictably, makes these comments himself directly to the reader. Here is one (from his famous novel Barchester Towers) I have been munching over for quite a few days now :

"A man in the right relies easily on his rectitude and therefore goes about unarmed. His strength is his weakness.

A man in the wrong knows that he must look for a weapon. His weakness is his strength.

The one is never prepared for combat, the other is always ready. Therefore it is that in this world the man that is in the wrong almost invariably conquers the man that is right, and invariably despises him."

I have a strong sense that there is more than just a little truth in this statement. And that it applies, not only at the level of one honest man against one dishonest one, but also at various levels of groups, organisations, even nations and ideologies of people. How about Democracy against a Totalitarian system ?
In the end the "good guy" sometimes manages to win in the end (as say in WW2), but not after a long and painful struggle, as he started off from a position of weakness.

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Friday, February 5 2010 (diary, family, happiness)

'At the Kalgoorlie Races, 1970 Philosophy of Happiness : 7 continues from January 25
Up to this point I (like Epicurus and other philosophers I have read up on) have considered the pursuit of Happiness exclusively from the single individual's perspective.

However when one is married (or is in a long term relationship) and perhaps has children as well, a whole new perspective is added to one's pursuit of Happiness.
It is not appropriate to include family members under the Happiness factor of "Friendship", instead they represent a whole new factor by themselves.

1. Health   2. Freedom   3. Sense of Purpose   4. Family   5. Thought   6. Friendship   7. Environment

A family affects one's Happiness in two different ways : directly and indirectly.

Direct effect
When choosing a partner some of your factors for achieving Happiness are directly affected, obviously your personal Freedom and possibly also your preferred Environment. In a good marriage or partnership both partners have similar or compatible preferences for (at least some of) their Happiness factors.

One of the great attractions for myself (as well as for my wife Antien) was that we both wanted to leave Holland and emigrate to Australia. So our mutual Environment factor in fact strengthened our relationship bond. We had also good compatibility in our daily life styles and artistic tastes and cherished each others company, so that I never felt the obvious boundaries of freedom a relationship entails.

A relationship sets boundaries to your personal Freedom, but it also opens a door to (what Anthony Trollope so elegantly and brilliantly describes as) the freedom of perfect intimacy.
Intimacy within a partnership enables you (gives you the freedom) to be more yourself than with any other human being on earth. As a strong introvert I felt this particularly and strongly and cherished it highly in our relationship. It is an aspect of freedom which (I believe) can not be obtained in any other way.

Indirect effect
When married, or even divorced with children, their happiness has a great bearing on your own. No matter how happy you are within your own personal circumstances, when something pleasant or unpleasant happens to them it resonates with you and affects your feelings accordingly.

Throughout my married life I have been acutely aware of this fact. Due to my profession as a geologist we moved frequently, with each move upsetting the social circles my wife and children had set up for themselves. Ensuring their happiness was therefore always my main priority.

'Pottery exhibition, Kalgoorlie 1971 So with each move Antien and I did our very best to find a good location and pleasant home to live in. Antien was a potter. I therefore made sure that at each place she had her own studio fully equipped and to her liking, and I always encouraged and supported her with the organisation of her regular art exhibitions.
Antien on her part always made friends quickly setting up a new social circle in which our children could be happy.

Now, many years later my happiness is still affected by all of them to some extent, unfortunately these days there is usually not much I can do to help them when they are down. But so it perhaps should be. They are grown up and must fend for themselves the best they can. In fact on the whole they are doing quite well.
Philosophy of Happiness continues on February 12

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