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Opinion Vs Fact: Things to understand while communicating

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Once, I was in a camp designed to train youths on liberty, freedom, free-market, and governance. Four foreign nationals were conducting the class.  There were interactions, discussions and Q&A sessions.  There were many instances where the foreigners would ask questions about Nepal, and students would answer them, and sometimes answers used to be totally exaggerated one or sometimes completely untrue, but then those foreigners would believe them anyway as if is true.  Stepping onto the shoes of those foreigners, I surely would have found Nepal a horrible place to live in based on the answers and views shared by Nepalese in the class.

I still remember the Human Rights report during the Madhesh andolan and how that irked many people then. I remember an article written in response to the report stating “many times, western media and organisations cover Nepal and build their views plainly based on correspondents living in New Delhi or only by interviewing opinion leaders from Kathmandu.”  I also remember one of the videos by Al Jazeera and how that actually shaped views of others regarding Madhesh Andolan.

What can we learn from these incidences and observations is that we often end up spreading false messages or half truth, about our country and people, especially in crisis-hit time.  I suppose it’s same everywhere in developing society.  So, how do we end up spreading false messages? It’s in our lack of communication skills.  There is something else.

When we are telling something to somebody about our country or government or an incident, we are either expressing
1. Our opinion, OR.
2. Telling the fact.

Opinion is what you feel, what you think. Fact is something that has been proven, is backed by evidence, or a conclusion from an extensive research.  People generally don’t take opinion that seriously but take facts quite seriously.  What happens when you express your opinion in a tone of fact-telling? People will take that seriously as if is a truth.

Let’s put it in example.
“Nepal is a very highly corrupted country. Everyone is corrupted here. You can buy anyone for money.” This statement sounds like a fact.

” I think, Nepal is a very highly corrupted country. To me, everyone seems corrupted here.  I even think you can buy anyone for money.  That’s just my opinion though.” This statement sounds pretty much an opinion.

Could you see the difference?? That “I think” makes a whole difference.

So, how an opinion should be expressed and not make it sound like fact telling? It’s very simple. You begin or end a sentence with “in my opinion” or “I think.”

I get to read many comments, I get to hear many stories, get to observe many interactions, and I have been noticing everywhere that we don’t know how to express our opinion and how to put facts. We just talk.  The problem is not just in youth.  It’s in everyone.  It’s in politicians, it’s in media, it’s in streets, it’s in home.  Basically, it’s in our culture.

You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.

I understand, we cannot be always politically and technically correct, but that should not be an excuse when representing your group or country and talking to outsiders or talking to media.  If you fail to rightly express your opinion, your opinion can be taken as FACTS.  Eventually, we may end up establishing an opinion as a fact.

That’s what has happened to us. We mix up opinion with facts. We claim to know things about government without even knowing in true sense.  We claim to know things about people without even knowing in true sense.  We claim to know about many things without even knowing in true sense.  Foreigners may not know that.  Children for sure can’t know that.  Students may not know that.  Online users, readers and viewers, may not know that.  They all will go home thinking they have learned about something because you said so.  “They told in TV bla bla bla…”

Look around!! Because of the very same culture, there are all kinds of nonsense taken as facts.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American sociologist, once rightly said “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”  Many people here don’t get that.  You please don’t be that.  When you are expressing your opinion, make it sound like an opinion and not a fact.

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Food For Thought

Lockdown and death of my romanticism

We humans are designed to be connected by senses and not by wires.  Digital world minus the worldly experience is a ventilator life.

Published

on

For a long time, I thought Internet is all we need and Internet is the future.  I naively thought that all I need is internet and I need no body to live this one life.  Virtual world, digital mode, online friends, theater, restaurants, library, anything and everything in it, and I thought this is how world gonna be – everything inside a screen – and humans can happily live in forever.  Then happened the lockdown which burst the bubble I was romanticizing.  BOOM!

This is when I realized the true nature of humans and how flawed digital world is to address that core nature of human minds.  I realized what matters the most to a human is experience.  We are born here to experience every little thing and thus means matter even if the end is the desired one.  It’s not what we get but how we get matters the most.  We don’t go to Bhatbhitini just to buy our needs, we go there to experience the shopping, to catch some fresh air.  We don’t go to office because we could not work from home.  The eye contacts with colleagues, the tea break, the vibe, the boss, the routine, pleasant or unpleasant experience, all that matters.    I can join distance learning but degree is not enough for this life which is to die.  I want to have that falling-in-love experience, I want to laugh with fellow humans of my age and timeline.  The real life experience that a physical college can offer me can never be offered by “online college.”

The other day, I was watching an event hosted online.  It was like a panel discussion and watching that, I realized how bland it tastes in compare to attending the similar event in real world.  Thanks to all the artists going live, singing for people, but it felt nothing like watching them live in gigs and concerts.  Because there lacked the experience that my human mind longs for.

Home is a best place to be in indeed but now I feel it’s best because we have the outside world.  Parents, children, spouse they mean world to us because they are the pillow to rest after all day out.  All that essence, beauty, feel will die off the moment our outside world is dead, our all-day-out routine is gone.

Now, I strongly feel humans didn’t leave Africa for mere survival.  They left for experience.  All our cultures, trends and institutions are born out of our desire to experience and explore beyond our mundane routine and concepts.  I now believe that end does not justify means if the means serve no purpose of experiencing the tangible world through our senses.  Of course, everything is perception and the hormonal signals in our brain but whatsoever, a pill that can release dopamine can never give us the Bungee experience.

Thank Universe the lockdown happened.  For me, the romanticism of the digital world has ended here with this reality bite.  Digital world of course  holds a greater significance and will be and should be there but it’s a mere tool and not a life itself.  Life is in ground, is among walking and breathing people, is in bricks and stones, that my nose can smell, my skin can feel, my ears can hear, and eyes can see, not through screen but around in real world.  We humans are designed to be connected by senses and not by wires.  Digital world minus the worldly experience is a ventilator life.

Can’t wait for this lockdown to get over and chase the worldly experience I am born to feel before I die.

Continue Reading

Food For Thought

Open Letter to Rabindra Mishra

Published

on

Dear Rabindra Mishra,

I don’t know from where to start.  When you first announced your dream to establish an alternative party, I was super excited.  I even openly showed my support with high hope and huge expectation but then things didn’t turn as I wished, but still I had not lost hope.  Somewhere deep inside, I had the feeling that you would figure out and sort out everything and shine but then after your recent party manifesto advocating for referendum on secularism and federalism, with heavy heart I am giving up on you.  However, I feel like you seem to be bit confused and clueless on almost everything related to country and politics, and thus writing this open letter so that I could be of some help before we depart.

Let’s start from secularism, what is the idea behind and why it’s necessary in first place.

Secularism first appeared in the West in the classical philosophy and politics of ancient Greece, disappeared for a time after the fall of Greece, but resurfaced after a millennium and a half in the Renaissance and the Reformation.  The departure from reliance on religious faith to reason and science marks the beginning of the secularization of education and society in history. Among the earliest documentations of a secular form of thought is seen in the Charvaka system of philosophy in India, which held direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, and sought to reject the prevailing religious practices of that time.  Source:  Wikipedia.

So secularism isn’t really “western agenda.”  Though, it was later elaborated by western thinkers:

An increasing confidence in human capabilities, reason, and progress, that emerged during the Italian Renaissance, together with an increasing distrust in organized and state supported religion during the Reformation, was responsible for the ushering of modernity during the Enlightenment, which brought all facets of human life including religion under the purview of reason and thus became responsible for the freeing of education, society, and state from the domination of religion; in other words, the development of modern secularism.

Let me explain you what does that mean.

As human society evolved and progressed, people strongly started believing that a society should be guided more by reasoning and evidence-based arguments and not based on faith alone.  Religion on other side is purely faith-based…said so on Bible, so it must be this way.  Said so on Geeta, so must be this way, said so by Prophet, so it must be this way.  People then strongly felt doctrine and religion are nothing but human made concept based on faith and lacks reasoning and evidence and a state should not fall into those faith-based arguments and rather should go with reasoning-based arguments; laws and polices to be made based on reasoning and evidence-backed ideas and concepts.  Instead of based on religions sentiments and doctrines aspiration, state should be governed by intellectual thoughts and ideas and beliefs rooted to reasoning and science and facts and figures.

For such thing to happen, a country should first of all level up itself above religion.  It should separate itself from any religion and function independently based on reasoning, rationality and facts.

That is what secularism is all about.

Secularism is a path to take a country towards science, reasoning, facts, where religion becomes private affairs and everyone is free to practice what they believe in but state does not get involved protecting any specific religion or religious community.  State, instead of protecting and promoting, religious ideas and sentiments, focuses more on reasoning and evidence based ideas and policies.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself, what is wrong in that? Call for a meeting and brainstorm, what is wrong in that??

Now, understand this also — Tyranny of Majority.

The tyranny of the majority (or tyranny of the masses) is an inherent weakness to majority rule in which the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own interests at the expense of those in the minority. John Stuart Mill, a philosopher from 18th century, while promoting democratic ideas, argued on the weakness of democracy if it follows rule of majority.  You can read his book On Liberty.

Reason why the representative democracy instead of direct democracy.

Mass cannot be always right, so democracy should be a rule of representatives who through vigorous debates and dialogues will decide what is good for all without suppressing minorities and their rights and sentiments.

Going back to the secularism.  Of course, majority will like the idea of Hindu State since they are deeply connected with, so obviously if referendum is done, the idea will win, but mass cannot be always right since everybody don’t know how reasoning-based society is important over faith-based society.  Humans are mostly guided by sentiments and emotions and referendum on Secularism for Nepal with 80% Hindu, will lose for sure unless mass has understood the core purpose and philosophy of why secularism instead of religious state.

Think, how genius and wise would it be to go for referendum?

Now also understand this — Liberal Democracy.

Liberal democracy is a liberal political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism.  It is characterised by elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, a market economy with private property and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either codified, (such as in the United States of America[1]), or uncodified, (such as in the United Kingdom) to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. After a period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant political system in the world.   Source: Wikipedia

Liberal democracy is also called western democracy.

So tell me which part of the western democracy you don’t like?

  1.  Elections between multiple distinct political parties.
  2. A separation of powers into different branches of government.
  3. The rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society.
  4. A market economy with private property.
  5. The equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people.

Yes sir, the modern democratic world is pretty much influenced and blueprinted by “Westerners,” so it’s an open truth that all those ideas are borrowed and “imported.”  So unless, you can come up with your own political philosophies and ideas, you are pretty much following the westerners idea of democracy and institution.

That’s where federalism got in as well.  I don’t want to get there in this open letter, because I believe you are capable to self study and research on your own with the help of Internet.

Sir, you clearly lack fundamental understanding on modern politics, political philosophies.  I strongly suggest you to read as many books as possible from thinkers from Enlightenment Era; go through each wikipedia articles on related topics and understand history and context.  Get some mentors to teach you on these fundamentals before you even call yourself a leader.  Ignorance is a choice made in modern world.

Last but not the least, don’t see world as east and west.  Irrespective of geographies, we all are humans first and whatever seems promising and convincing gets spread out.  That’s how humanity has been in existence for many thousands of years.  Be proud of the collective wisdom and knowledge disseminating across the earth like one big family for greater good, for freedom, liberty, and individual rights and happiness, rising above faith, religion, caste and creed to science, reasoning, facts and rationality.

Ra jada jadai, say my hi to the muslim guy from your party, who is giving his time and effort to make his political career through your party.  Don’t advocate for Tyranny of Majority or else you are betraying his loyalty and aspiration.  At this point, I am feeling bad for him.

 

Regards,
Your lost supporter

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Food For Thought

Monologue: Curse of being urban Nepali

My definition of being urban Nepali is someone who grew up in one of the major cities of Nepal, like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Hetauda, Narayanghat, or Biratnagar or any municipality with easy access to school, hospital, transportation, water and electricity; has gone to private school and college; has relatively comfortable life with access to media and Internet; generally belongs to middle class and above; informed about global trend, ideas and concepts; up to date with technologies and styles and fashion; can read and write English.  Basically someone like I character in the monologue below.

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All my life, I thought it’s a privilege to be an urban Nepali until lately.  It was all well and good.  I could go to better school, better college, have that cool life – less to worry about what to eat or wear.  I could watch movies I like, read books I want.  Take my bike and reach to places I love.  I could talk on GOT to Netflix series; could discuss for hours on sports to world politics.  I could try anything that I am passionate about.  Looking at my life, people of my age from rural areas would wish to be me.  And then came the phase where I could no more live like a prince on parent’s earning.

Oh shit, now I need to earn.  Where do I start from?  No office looks good enough for me.  Either salary is too low or the team does not look like of my type.  Government job? I got no connection as such.  Moreover, I suck in Nepali to crack the exam.  Interested on private corporate but then they may make me work like donkeys for long hours.  I better start my own business.  Where do I start though? Unless something cool and fancy, my friends gonna laugh at me.  Moreover, all my relatives with that level of lifestyles, how can I stand in front of them starting small?  I will look weak.  I can’t afford to look weak.

I am broke but I can’t lower down my standard.  Everywhere I look, I see majority of those shutters are occupied by small-scale businesses but my mind only desires for next Java or departmental store and nothing less.  In streets, in markets, I see people selling goods and stuffs but I can’t stand by them and do the selling.  I see bike mechanics, I see plumbers and electricians, but I can’t go to them and ask to teach me their skills.

I wonder where can i sell my knowledge on GOT, opinions on world politics and English premier league.  I know how a good movie should look like, where can I sell that? I have great tastes on songs and fashions, but no one buys that.  Damn! no one gives a dime about the school I went and college I graduated from. I got 4-story building in prime location but it means nothing than to get rent for my parents.

The anxiety, the desperation, my ego, my dreams on one side and in another side, the reality.  Reality being I am a citizen of a country with income per capita of 2.5 dollars per day, that makes it roughly 1000 dollars a year or 10 thousands per month.  Whereas my desired life is that of global citizens who make 4000 dollars per month.  Huge majority of people don’t have problem living in that reality of 2.5 dollars per day but I can’t because I got a different tastes and habits, because I am an urban Nepali.

I so wish now that I was never born as urban Nepali, lived as urban Nepali, that I could pick up a cycle and sell something on streets.  Or, I could take any job and give my best.  All my people and relatives would be from village and no one would judge me or laugh at me.  I could manage in small one-room apartment and no girl from my village would call me poor.   I would be the majority, neither my ego would hurt, nor my perceptions would distort.

This country is not for me.  I should try abroad.  There, I will look like  a guy from village starting from zero — the condition I truly belong, I desperately need, for my own good.

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