House Rules

A house is supposed to be a place you run to, not a place you run from. However, sometimes things can go a bit out of track and, with time, sail on astray up to a point where one’s house can hardly be considered home anymore. One of the reasons for that is ontological; humans are never quite finished, we are eternally becoming. That means people change with time.  Unnoticeably, this change can move foundations of people’s thinking to opposite directions, leading to a point where, inside the same house, the core way in which life is seen and tackled differs so much that a dialog between the worldviews is rendered almost impossible; and when this results in conflicting behaviours, living together is rendered impossible. That’s when home becomes just a house.

The main difference between a Democracy and a Republic is the existence of a Constitution. A Constitution is a document that states inalienable rights of individuals within a society. That means that even if 99% of the population wants to do something, if it infringes the rights of the other 1% they cannot do it. Just as in a state, in private life a house should not be a dictatorship. If many people live in the same place, they all must be able to express their individuality, thus everyone must have a say. Decisions must be made democratically, taking into account everyone’s opinions and preferences. As Mr Marx worded it, “the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all.” However, as in any democracy, majority rule can be oppressive for a minority. And that’s where the constitution comes in. Almost as a declaration of principles and values, a house’s “constitution” will be a guide to behaviour and decision-making, aiming to assure that no one –be it man, woman, visitor, a senior or a junior member of the community– will abuse of anyone’s rights, combating despotism and arbitrariness of conduct, and making sure everyone’s behavioural foundations are clear and firm, keeping home home for everyone.

Because, as I heard somewhere, “when you are hurt and in trouble and you aren’t sure were to go, you go to the place where your heart calls home.”

Having that in mind, here is the “constitution” I would set up; these are my house’s values and rules (still under construction, new clauses are still being added):

  • Everyone must be treated with respect. The following paragraphs explain what it means to treat people with respect.
  • People must treat each other as they would like to be treated plus following all clauses of the house’s constitution.
  • Men and women are intellectually equal and must treat each other as such.
  • Prejudice of any kind –be it skin colour, nationality, religion, sexuality, social status or any other kind– is recognised to be fruit of ignorance and is unacceptable.
  • Generalisations are seeing with enormous suspicion, boarding on prejudice, therefore ignorance. Thus, should be avoided.
  • Justice is understood to be possible only out of forgiveness. If there is no forgiveness it is not justice, it is vengeance.
  • Correction of any type aims at the establishment of justice. Correction’s goal is rehabilitation, never sheer punishment. The individual being corrected must be made aware of what was done wrongly, why it was wrong and what should have been done instead.
  • It is understood that actions are physical expressions of mental concepts, therefore corrections are aimed at the thinking process that originated the behaviour and not blinded by case-specific attitudes.
  • Screaming, verbal aggression and physical aggression are considered despotic means of coercion that rely on fear and authoritarian abuse. They are understood to be a primitive behaviour resorted to in face one’s inability to express oneself logically.  This behaviour is a violation of the main idea of respect and is therefore intolerable.
  • Gossip is unwelcome.
  • Any action that does harm of refuses to help is considered wrong.
  • Senior members of the family shall be treated with deference –which means common respect plus acknowledgement of their historical importance in the family.
  • Polite treatment is part of being respectful. “Please”, “Thank you”, “Good morning” and “Good night” are not optional.
  • No one is obliged to do anything unless specified in this document.
  • Children are obliged to obey their parents as long as the parents’ orders do not go against this document.
  • Amendments to this document must be decided democratically among everyone 16 years old or over that lives in the house, taking into account children’s opinions.
  • There is no specific distribution of house chores based on sex. Chores are assigned according to one’s ability to perform it. Everyone that lives in the house must contribute in the house chores.
  • Everyone’s sleep is sacred. Whenever someone is sleeping everyone awake must respect it and make the most not to disturb it.
  • Sharing is vehemently enforced; however, it must be a personal decision. People have the right to individual non-shared property –except for items of communal use like food, hygiene products, etc.
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House Rules

If You Survive Your Family You Will Survive Life

I open my eyes and there is a knife 5 centimetres away from my throat, it is my brother trying to kill me for the third time.

No! That never happened, that’s not what I am talking about. I believe your family has the various types of people you will find in your life. Some are smart, some are stubborn, some are complicated, some like you a lot, others not so much and yet they are all members of the same family, your family.

family-large

My parents divorced when I was little and married their current partners some years later, so, I have four families. There are all kinds of people in my family and I believe that if I can survive them all, if I learn to deal well with each of them I will certainly thrive in my life. Because if I can’t cope with someone who is a kin of mine how will I bear someone who isn’t even that? And I know sometimes there are people who are really hard to deal with. But first, allow me a brief digression.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was given to me by Sir Benjamin Franklin, it saved me from a lot of trouble. He said “Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody”, and thinking this way he got to be United States ambassador in France. I just erased half of what I had written in this text. I would use some of the people of my family as examples, wasn’t a wise decision. You gain nothing for saying bad things about people, so don’t do it.

Your family life will teach you skills that you can’t imagine how much would cost you if you had to learn it somewhere else. If you really survive your family you will learn how to deal with emotional blackmailing, how to win an argument, how to show a point of view effectively, how to talk to someone who is not thinking rationally, learn to wait for the right time to ask for things, learn to apologise, to make peace, to share, to give in, learn that just because someone is talking with confidence it doesn’t mean the person is right and many other things. In your work life these are critical abilities, they can be the difference between being the boss or a subordinate.

There are many skills we can learn from our family, but there is a specific one that, I have noticed, haven’t been well taught. It is the ability to admit you are wrong. The worst thing when you are arguing with someone is to notice that you are wrong in the middle of the argument, it is awful. I understand you have your pride and that you want to show superiority, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are wrong. If you go on with the argument pretending you are right you will only make things worse for everyone. For you, for example, it will be bad because you will be lying, you will be defending something you think is wrong and you will be losing your credibility because people will think you are either stupid (for not noticing you are wrong) or crazy for defending such a wrong thing.

All through his dialogues Plato makes use of elenkhós, the refutation method, and condemns the methods used by the sophists (the wannabe philosophers of the epoch). As Plato explains, real philosophers use dialectic to question each other and thus, through refutation, get to the real truth, while sophists had as object of their quest not the real truth, but the appearance of being right. So, acting this way, they could reach to the conclusion that anything they wanted to be right, they could “prove” it to be right, and this way they lost their credibility, because if you really wanted to know if something was right or not you wouldn’t go to a sophist, because instead of the real truth he would rather tell you his opinion — which he would try to prove true.

When you don’t admit you are wrong you are acting just as a sophist, despised by Plato. You make it hard for people to treat with you, because you don’t make sense, you are not being rational. Learn to admit you are wrong, learn to apologise. People will like you better. It won’t make you look stupid, when you admit you are wrong you immediately improve. Now you are better than you were a second ago, because a second ago you thought that something wrong was right but now your thinking is better than that.

Another cool thing you learn with your family is patience. I am a longsuffering man, not easily irritated, but if you try to be funny in waking me up, you are looking for trouble. Today I was sleeping and my 5 years old sister screamed in my ear “WAKE UP TO LIIIFE!”. In this moment God himself descended from his throne in heaven and took my spirit away to a far and calm place, with mild waters and a nice green grass, and I am forever thankful to him  for doing that, because if it didn’t happen, now I wouldn’t have a sister anymore.  And that’s how you learn to be patient. If no one try to make you mad you are not learning patience, you are just in a peaceful environment. Patience is not important when everything is right and calm, it is needed when you are right in the middle of a huge shitstorm. Remember that in an argument whoever gets angry first, loses.

But that is your family. It is good sometimes, annoying sometimes, you have got to deal with it. And if you survive your family, if you learn to deal well with all of them in all kinds of situations, then you can be sure you will thrive everywhere you go.

If You Survive Your Family You Will Survive Life