As may be expected of a blog, it is an ongoing affair. For the moment, we publish here three types of texts that suit the definition of a blog.
- in English: texts that Touché and Guy post with a certain regularity at LinkedIn.
- in Portuguese: contributions of Touché to Brasil com Z, a blog by expat Brazilians about the countries they emigrated to. The cooperation stopped some time ago, but Touché's texts are still interesting.
- in Portuguese, Dutch, English and even French: whenever we travel, we send newsletters to friends in several countries. At first, these messages appeared only in Portuguese, later a Dutch version was added, and in 2016 we were crazy enough to add a French and an English newsletter during our stays in New Zealand/Australia and Costa Rica. We will progressively post some of these travelogues, going back in time.
Note: the latest post is at the top. Use the menu at right or scroll down for older messages.
Touché at LinkedIn in 2019-2
On December 5th a unique type of professionals around the world have a special reason to make a toast: this is the International Volunteers Day and the fact that just anyone can deserve this commemoration makes this moment even more important, It symbolizes the union of those who, independently of their educational level or choice of career, find their personal realization through a kind of work that might be called ‘dedication’. There are people all over the world who believe in the power of helping others as an activity worth investing their time, energy and knowledge in. Volunteer work demands no diplomas and ignores hierarchy, making absolutely no segregation of gender, nationality, religion or culture. It is really the live translation of democratic work.
Most volunteers are busy people who already have many duties and responsibilities. Of course, there are cases of wealthy people who do not need to work at all, others who have reached a position in life where they can live comfortably without having a paid job but those are rather the exception than the rule when we think about volunteers. Normally what we have are generous people who – despite full agendas – decide to give a free contribution to the well-being of strangers for the simple reason that they value being kind and helpful. Humanity pays.
It may sound ‘strange’ to some that someone who does not have an empty life opts to work for free. Why should anyone have any interest in working for free? What kind of people are these volunteers? We are not talking about having fun at work, even if working for the pleasure of being helpful can be very fun, yes. Volunteers are people who work and many times this means working hard.
What drives volunteers, and what they have in common, probably is their passion and idealism. They are the only professionals who prove to be sure the human race is not going to end up frozen under the avalanche of individualism. They realize that anonymous individual contribution is the basis for opening new ways and building the future. They are the ones who think and DO.
While there are those doing volunteer work we can be sure there is hope for humans. Hope that we learn how to exercise humanity.
The International Volunteers Day is everyday.
In most societies, being tested is considered to be normal in institutions like schools, enterprises, clubs, and the list can be extended even to social groups like families. In general, being tested is taken for granted as part of any process when there is someone who plans to join a specific group, but not only this. Being tested is also pre-accepted as the door which opens up to new possibilities for progress and personal growth. Do you want to move on? Get ready for the tests!
We don’t know of many demonstrations of happiness linked to tests. On the contrary, it is usually a reason for stress, sleepless nights, worries and all the natural human consequences when one is submitted to a terrifying moment. Masochists apart (yes, they exist), people associate good life with tranquility and being assured that the basics to make a living is crucial for good health and meaningful social contacts. Many analyses and reports are available for those who want to learn more about how to be happy.
But no matter the approach or the result of those studies, they do not lead to the conclusion that ‘being tested’ contributes to human peace of mind. People make tests because they must. Professionals make tests to be able to get jobs or promotions in their careers. Students make tests because this is the system most educational institutions put forward as the good way to evaluate the performance of pupils. And… nobody likes it! Maybe it can be said that everybody hates it. Generalizations are very dangerous but it seems that here we have unanimity: tests only cause distress and pain to individuals and they tear apart emotional connections between those who see their partners become competitors.
If this is so, why do we keep on making tests? Why do we keep being under the hard pressure caused by ‘having’ to be tested? Why do so many good professionals keep spending so many precious hours of their work on corrections of tests? Why do tests exist? What is this all about?
Maybe tests are the proof that we do not trust each other? In ambiences where there is trust, nobody needs to prove to be capable, each one being able to recognize his/her own qualifications or limits. If we think about companies, those working at HRs should be in condition to assess the adequacy of a candidate to a position through interviews or technical discussions. At schools, teachers and students should be in condition to dialogue about what has been achieved or not in a person-to-person system, or a person-to-group system, where students would endorse each other under the supervision of their teachers.
Being tested means being discredited. Every time someone has to pass a test, what is really at stake is the basic mistrust between the one who is under fire and the other who is in control of firing. The lower the level of trust the higher and more difficult are the demands of proof of qualification.
Schools of all levels and enterprises that value the word of candidates and students are definitely the ground where the best professionals are formed and work. If we want to build a world where people feel supported in their efforts for progress we must review this system, because being tested does not prove anyone to be the best. What it proves is the incapacity of those in leading positions to make a good and honest assessment of employees and students.
Mistrust never leads to good performances.
Making a good test just means someone was able to handle stress and survive an intellectual massacre.
We need change. Let’s move on to higher levels of trust and the results can only be positive for everybody.
It is unseemly that someone who dreamed about having an education and spent years studying to become a good professional might accept – or even choose! - to work for companies or any type of institution where his/her job will contribute to destruction. However, this happens. Tragically and sadly enough. It happens.
Of course, there are levels of perception of each one’s responsibility in the life destruction chain, and that may be linked not only to living conditions, but most of all to the possibilities available to those who do not have a clear view on their situation, to acquire the necessary knowledge that would allow them to see how their action contributes to this destruction.
For example, let’s think about multitudes who use their work force on tobacco plantations. Most probably they did/do not come from families/societies where education is granted to everyone. They either work in the tobacco fields or… there is no work for them at all. Even if this may happen, it seems improbable that parents who have spent their lives as workers in those fields would have this work as the dream job for their children. As it is also improbable that youngsters from any origin would want to be a tobacco plantation worker. Thus, those uncountable people do that not for choice, but for lack of choice. And it turns out that the end product of their work is going to impact on the health of millions of people these workers never even heard of. Let’s think of them as ‘innocent guilties’, then.
Now, what about those whose privileged minds are put at the service of destruction which demands a high level of studies and knowledge? Isn’t it crazy that an intelligent student accepts a job where he/she will be contributing to the creation and/or development of tools to kill?
Hard to think, harder to accept, laboratories are full of highly specialized professionals who do their best to find the most destructive poison. Offices are full of creative designers and architects whose job is the conception and effectiveness of weapons. Factories are full of engineers who spend their time on projects for devices that will destroy as fast and effective as possible whatever is targeted. Scientists devote their intelligence to make bombs which explode at maximum power and can be monitored at longest distance. And so on and so on. This is an insane world. However, many people live this insanity and dare say all they do is in name of human progress!
Of course, war industries are very attractive to those who just care for money and power. And there are many whose aim is exactly this, to be rich and powerful at no matter what cost. Well, this is insane, those elements can not be considered ‘people’, nor ‘human beings’. They are an offense to the human race, a shame to our species. They are a disgrace, a shame to all of us who love life.
What is most sad, these killing machines dominate minds and all over the world there are youngsters willing to be part of this wealthy group. At cost of their own humanity. Pity them!
It is a tragedy, yes, a real tragedy and literature, theater and films are not a simple product of a creative lunatic but the picture of horrible facts. War films show the final result of a whole chain in many factories where exciting and exhilarating minds were used to produce death, famine and all the horrors caused by violence and harmful tools.
Geniuses, highly intelligent, smart and creative professionals should be ashamed to contribute to destruction. The more somebody knows, the more responsibility he/she bears to make ours a peaceful and healthy world for all. Are you one of those professionals? Here is a challenge for you.
Change jobs urgently! Go for peace. Make peace, not war. Can you?...
It’s very hard to understand that people who have children won’t support these incredible youngsters who started and carry on with the movement to try and save the planet. It is even more incomprehensible that those who say they love kids do nothing to help and just watch them fight for their future – meaning that these climate-activists are mostly people under the twenties. Those brave students who dare face mummified school and governmental systems in order to protest and demand actions from the ones responsible for their education should not be left alone in their struggle to keep Earth a livable place. We, members of the older generations, must take action, work together with them, make them feel proud of themselves, applaud their initiatives because they dare say stop to destruction.
We, ‘oldies’ have to consider a basic (and disastrous) truth: we are the ones who left all this mess for them to clean up, as wonderful Greta Thunberg said. Instead of criticizing students who strike for climate protection, we’d better get up and walk with them. Moreover: we should apologize for keeping silence all these years when we’ve been watching destruction happen as if catastrophes caused by human greed were just another show to see on TV, while we nurture our insensitivity with the adrenaline those images bring to our empty lives.
It requires much more than ‘just being a teenager’ to say ‘NO’ to what is happening. These courageous people who go around carrying signs where they expose their dissatisfaction and concern for the future should make us feel ashamed and be fair enough as to take part in their demonstrations and effectively act in our daily life in order to avoid pollution and stop all absurd forms of abuse of natural resources.
We are just drops in the ocean, but the ocean is made of drops, right? We are not heroes, there are not many Greta Thunbergs around, but we surely can do our part, this tiny little part from anonymous people who care for good-hearted deeds.
No matter how egoistic someone can be, ignoring climate change and its tragic consequences in our tomorrow because it goes against personal financial profits in our present, goes beyond the sheer concept of selfishness: it is an attest of stupidity and ignorance.
Because no one will ever drink nor eat money, and all living forms need air to breath and stay alive. Still.
(*) sign at demonstration in Viborg- Denmark - September 20, 2019
Health and disease are part of our life since the very moment when we are ‘made’. The state of health (or not) at our birth is directly linked to facts previous to our arrival in the world. Family history, mainly our mother’s, play a crucial role on how we are formed in the womb and how we will live after getting out of that shelter. Maybe it makes sense to question why our first verbal contact with the world is a cry? Moreover, something is ‘wrong’ when we do not cry!
From childhood on we are on the trapeze of circus life: either we find a balance on the way through our path or we fall down and there is no protection net. During this fall – which may end by landing in the arms of death, we are subject to various different kinds of clashes and let us call them ‘diseases’. Fairies of life can help us fly back up to our initial trapeze and we should be very thankful when we meet them. Throughout History there have been those who play the magic role of healing: gurus, shamans, witches… In our modern times we call them ‘doctors, nurses, psychologists, social assistants…’ New names to identify healers, those who dedicate their life to saving lives.
It is seldom (very seldom) that someone manages to cross this trapeze without ever falling down. Maybe in ancient cultures it happened often but as civilizations became more stressful the probability of keeping the necessary balance during this ‘trip’ became each time smaller. Life is a very fragile kind of rope. It is very easy to lose balance and fall. As we start to walk towards the end point we have no idea about the movements on the rope and we should always expect the unexpected… but we don’t! We keep going as if we could take life for granted. We simply ignore the damages we can cause to ourselves and we do not care about it, not considering that the ones who love us are those who will suffer when we fall. We can’t avoid falling but we surely can cross and live healthily, not only because living is so wonderful but also as a way to avoid causing pain to our beloved ones.
In the same way as there have always been those who dedicate themselves to healing others, we know of special places to do so. Nowadays we call them clinics, hospitals, and so on. Technology has passed through fantastic development and medication and equipments have been created in order to minimize pain and suffering. In countries where people are respected there is a continuous focus on supporting scientific research and politicians work to provide the best possible medical assistance to all, independently of who is in need of treatment.
Everybody is entitled to be well cared for, no matter where. Living healthily is a right, not a privilege of a few who are well-off.
But not only well-equipped clinics and hospitals provide for the healing of those who go there. If we walk around in a hospital and observe the patients it is easy to perceive the difference in the expressions of those who are there just waiting for the next move of the doctors and nurses, and those who – besides receiving attention from these professionals – have their families and friends come visit them. Loneliness does not help healing, on the contrary. It is loving affection, delicate words, talks, hugs, kisses, messages, flowers, any and all gestures of kindness what really help bring people back to the trapeze of life, with new energy to keep on, because love is the only medicine free to anyone. The best medicine ever.
The simple truth is: we are thirsty. Much has already been said by all types of people, be it scientists, politicians, well-cultivated or illiterate, you name it. Everywhere there are those who suffer of thirst. The worse, of course, is caused by the lack of water, drinkable water. But there are so many kinds of thirst in the world! And even if the authorities must give special attention to not letting people die for lack of drinking water, we should never dis-consider the crucial importance of looking after all those who need to stop feeling thirsty. Almost everybody, that is.
First let us give some thought to natural needs of living beings. We are surrounded by diverse forms of life and all living ‘things’ need… watering. Plants need water, that’s obvious. Fields require water to produce food. No happy fields mean under-nurtured people, more industrialized food that by no means is equivalent to eating from natural resources. Then, when rivers dry out, deserts take more and more place on earth eliminating the possibility of life wherever the land can not live anymore. Water, though, is the first element required to protect life.
But not only water is necessary to quench our thirsts. In the plural, yes, because we have so many unfulfilled thirsts! And the big question is, how can a living being flourish in thirst?
Animals need to feel protected and beloved. All animals. Without love and care, no breathing species will last. Pets and children are those who make this more evident. When well loved, animals go beyond their primary needs based on instinct and demonstrate gratitude, loyalty, happiness and perform their ‘duties’ (think about guard-dogs) at their best. When we focus on human behavior it becomes obvious that those who experience love live better and achieve greater results in their lives.
Children are thirsty! So many abandoned kids are suffering when they reach out for an adult’s hand and all they get is the dust of drought and despair. Later, these children become thirsty adults, because their fantasies, dreams, talents and gifts were denied. All they learn is the cruelty that leads to the paths of sadness and violence.
There is still a child in us, asking for the possibility to drink from the fresh fountains of pure water, which comes from being able to dream and make our dreams come true. Dreams do come true for those who believe in them! However, to be able to dream, we need the kindness of the night, just as we need the kindness of the various sorts of water that exist to be able to create and develop.