Freedom is the element of love

Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and the so-called “father of existentialism” was born today, May 5 in 1813. To celebrate, I drink a bottle of champagne and share this essay which, recently, was published in the Wild Roof Journal.

A man in his late fifties enters a tattoo shop in Barcelona. He shows up unannounced with his new girlfriend. They are both a little bit drunk.

“Can you write her name on my arm?” he asks the young female tattoo artist who was busy tattooing me. 

Before waiting for an answer, he rolls up the sleeves of his grayish sweatshirt. “Here,” he says, pointing to a vacant spot of bare skin close to his wrist. I notice that his arm already carries four other female names. Three of them are crossed out. 

“I need you to cross out the last one and add her name,” he says, as he points to his partner. Her. 

The tattooist looks at the man’s arm, looks at the lady, and says, “Lucky you!” 

Is she being ironic? 

She observes, “Before he didn’t have room for you; now he does.”

Love and Freedom Are Bound Together 

This episode makes me think of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who once wrote in a letter to his fiancée, Regine Olsen, “Freedom is the element of love.” This statement encapsulates the two most important features of a life worth living: freedom and love. 

You’re free to do almost whatever you want as long as you’re willing to take all the consequences. It goes without saying that you’re never free to violate or harm anyone, deliberately, which also has nothing to do with love. Love is edifying, as Kierkegaard writes wrote in Works of Love (1847). 

For Kierkegaard, love is the metaphysical foundation of life; it is what is. Yet, combined with freedom, love can take many forms: friendships, parents, lovers, etc. 

Regardless of one’s gender or sexual orientation, what is important when it comes to love is there; it exists. We are all free to experience the possibilities of love, but doing so in our own way. Looking at Kierkegaard through the recollection of this episode, I believe it illustrates—or at least encourages me to reflect on—something more general about society than whether a few people like ink or not. 

For example, many people in today’s achievement-oriented society who suffer from insecurity, anxiety, stress, or burnout do so because they feel alone. They basically lack the experience of real and honest contact with other people. Often even with themselves, as when Wittgenstein defines a philosophical problem with being lost. 

Isn’t showing a new acquaintance, a potential lover, that your arm already carries the names of four other women a way of showing honesty? A way of trying to facilitate real contact? Create a space where love can flourish, despite it all?

If I am right, then there was nothing sad about it for him or her. Quite the contrary, being unconnected with other lives leads to sadness. Unfortunately, many people live behind what resembles a firewall that falsely protects our vulnerability or fear of losing face while, at the same time, prevents us from connecting with other people. It’s like a veil between the world, you, and me. 

Are we being too  polite to be honest?

Many, would probably feel embarrassed if they had to cross out a name on their arm, especially if they hadn’t learned from their first, second, and third mistakes, but just kept on adding name after name. Still, they would only be embarrassed because they would look at themselves through the ideals or norms of others, especially those people with whom they might hope to be identified. This, I believe, illustrates how the existential and political tend to become indistinguishable. For instance, in today’s identity-political sphere, many tend to criticize or oppose other people, thoughts, or forms of life, not because of critical thinking but due to prejudices. Knowing how easy it is to fall outside in a society where people tend to shoot before they ask, or even think (if they think at all), firewalls eventually emerge. 

Freedom, therefore, also becomes a question of power. As Byung-Chul Han has shown in What Is Philosophy? (2019), “Violence and freedom are the two end points on the scale of power.” Although there is a tendency among philosophers to leave power to political scientists and organizational theorists, power addresses existential questions. 

For instance, whether those subjected to power follow their own desire while doing so, or whether they follow the desire of the powerful as if it were their own, or whether they even anticipate the desire of the other. Thus, regardless of how trite this may sound, I believe that many people lack the courage and creativity to live the life they want (again, I am thinking of any kind of life that doesn’t deliberately harm anyone). If we are afraid of losing our good standing among people who don’t actually tolerate any diversion from their own ideals, we are not free, and therefore—following Kierkegaard—not capable of loving. The kind of firewall that I refer to is mainly constituted by powerful norms and ideals of our current achievement-focused society that constantly forces us to live in a particular way. 

For example, many young people today feel a pressure to attain an unrealistic body image, often only achieved through plastic surgery or synthetic enhancement. Or how we may feel forced to develop certain competences or express warranted opinions (typically only those that already fit into or enhance our “human capital”). The result of this capitalization of life is that we drain ourselves emotionally, mentally, and physically. We not only fail to live up to all the ideals but also to forgive ourselves for not being able to do so. We have lost our direction in life playing the power-game of others.

To Become Free 

Returning to the opening episode, we must understand that instead of one true love, some people might experience several. Similarly, instead of claiming that there only exists one right way of living a life worth living, there are several. If Western philosophy teaches us anything, it is that we are always placed in the middle, trying to do our best, exploring and testing life. That is testing our freedom and desires, like asking whether our desire to do this or that really is our desire, or whether we’re just being seduced, forced, or manipulated.

According to Kierkegaard in his letter, love and freedom cannot be separated. Feeling loved and being capable of love make a person free. A simple example could be how most people feel free when they are together with their loved ones. Together with friends, we can turn off our protective firewall. 

The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau opens The Social Contract (1762) with the claim: “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” Despite the power of this sentence I don’t believe we are born free; on the contrary, as a father of three, I have noticed that we are all born helpless and impotent. Still, to some extent, I agree with Rousseau. Instead of cultivating a capacity for critical thinking and compassion in our children, most future citizens are institutionalized in a way that chains them mentally. For the same reason, I agree with Rousseau when he goes on to say: “Those who think themselves masters of others are instead greater slaves than they.” They, the masters, maintain a self-constraining system, yet they do so because they seduce themselves into believing that the systematic status and prestige they have reflects how good they are at living a life worth living. But it doesn’t. 

To become free in an existential sense requires more than stripes on the shoulder, a high salary, or being born in a privileged part of the world. It requires first of all an acknowledgement and respect towards the world we are born into, its norms and ideals, but also an empathic yet critical capacity to question these norms and ideals, the structure behind them, perhaps even to change them. In my book A Philosophy of Mindfulness (2018), I defined freedom as a combination of having the courage to stand against all that which limits, controls, or even destroys our lives, combined with the imagination to create space for alternative lives. It’s a mixture of resistance and inventiveness. Or, to put it even more simply, a mixture of saying both “no” and “yes.” The reason why I don’t believe that we are born free is related to the fact that in order to know what is important, we will have to have tested, explored, or experimented with life. With age, most people know when to say “no”; however, they only know so because they become conscious of what to affirm or say “yes” to. 

Love All People as Equals 

Reflecting on the couple entering the tattoo parlor, I propose that we might see them as a couple that, despite their setbacks, imagines a world where love is still possible. They still know what is important, what to affirm: love.

Another way of confirming that freedom and love are the main ingredients of a life worth living could be by postulating that egocentrism is the exact opposite of freedom. I say so because I only believe we can become free together. Saying this, I am aware that some may suggest that the man entering the tattoo parlor is being egocentric in the act of getting a tattoo of each woman’s name. However, such an assumption would require that we see the tattoo as a symbol of more than it is, for example, a kind of ownership or possession which is a part of our habitual capitalist mindset. On the other hand, the tattoo might be nothing more than a faithful confirmation of the strength of love. Of course, the tattoo—-especially in this situation with so many names—-can make us think of the person as naive, romantic, or too spontaneous, and yet, it is also an affirmation that emphasizes what connects those names on his arm: love. 

Love is everywhere the same, although it always expresses itself differently. 

Kierkegaard illustrated this strength in Works of Love (1847)where he elaborated on the biblical sentence “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” stressing that “thy neighbor” does not refer to your people, nation, gender or sexual orientation, but all people. We should love all people as equals.

Now this is something that very few of us are capable of, but even more sadly, loving everyone as equals (not equally) is something that many of us don’t even strive to accomplish. Capitalism has made us lazy in a comfortable way, either by avoiding any kind critical scrutinization of our own pre-existing biases, or by assuming that all problems can be overcome through consumption. On the contrary, love teaches us to become worthy of what happens. It’s hard work but nothing is more enriching and liberating. 

Kierkegaard, in my opinion, doesn’t present us with an abstract ideal of love; rather, he confronts our confusion and limitations, which can be extremely powerful in a time where many are so self-conscious of their own way of thinking (often anchored solely in their race, gender or sexuality) that they become resistant to alternative perspectives. 

Perhaps this more humble approach to life could lead to a more caring educational mission: How can we teach people today what makes them capable of loving all people tomorrow? 

Love is all inclusive

This reflection of love, freedom, and tattoos has become more political than intended. However, and perhaps I am being too romantic or naive as well, I do believe that love belongs in a political context as well. The power of love transforms not only our lives but also societies by overturning the cultures of domination and repression because they have nothing to do with love. For example, when we are dominated or dominate someone, we are never free. Violence and coercion are lifeless. In other words, those who misuse power (not those in power per se) do so because they are not free. A parent hitting his or her child might claim that he or she did so “out of love”, although it is just an act of violence. 

Love is all inclusive. Or as Kierkegaard said, we should love everyone as equals, not favoring our own gender or religion. Our human history is full of violence, discrimination and killing of women for being women, killing and discriminations of different races, religions or thoughts solely for being different. Human history is one where far too many only like the stranger as long as he or she thinks exactly like them. Thus, there are many reasons to be angry, and anger often comes with a clearer vision, just as there is a lot of needed fuel in it, and yet in order to build or construct a better future, only love can do the work. Love cares for everyone and everything. It was there before we were born, and it will be here once we are gone. Love is what links each name together, not just the one on the man’s arm, but all names in human history. 

Love is not hierarchical, nor does it moralize. The tattooist illustrated this. She didn’t moralize as if she represented a higher and more lucrative position of unquestionable “good”. Instead she was open, not just because they were potential paying customers, but due to her capacity to empathize with them. 

The couple in the tattoo parlor shared a belief in love. Not in the sense that life is without difficulties and suffering. It is; but rather that it’s love that helps us overcome these setbacks, never revenge or hate. 

Love, therefore, is not an abstract ideal but something we all experience and notice if we pay attention. It is like pointing out what all football fans share regardless of their favorite team, which is a love of the game; what all languages share, which is the ability to communicate, make connections, and dialogue; what all people share regardless of national origin, which is that they live on this planet; or what all of us share regardless of gender, race, and sexual preference, which is that we need sunlight to live and that we all breathe the same air. 

If we can love all people as equals, then we would also be capable of seeing why all people should be treated with the same respect, trust, care, and justice. There is no love without mutual respect and equality. However, and this is why I have been using this little episode about the man and women as my point of departure; if I cannot encounter two drunk people in a tattoo parlor without feeling better than them, pitying them or any other kind of sad behavior that would illustrate my embedded prejudices, how should I then make myself available for those who live lives far more different.

Is love bulletproof then? Without answering directly, I would claim that the mistakes we make in love can be crossed out. We can go on living because they initially emerged from a free, honest, and nondiscriminating relationship to and with life. It’s an honest mistake. The man in the tattoo parlor doesn’t hide his previous relationships. On the contrary, he brings (or she brings him) to make another affirmation of love. It is like an ethical confirmation; despite all the discrimination, greed, and violence in today’s world, we must “go on” affirming what matters. Daily.

You know when you’re in love. Or to put it differently: if you’re doubting, you’re not in love.

The last thing I heard the tattooist ask the man as I left the store was, “Are you sure?”

“Do I look like I am doubting?”

 It was her saying those last words. 

Kierkegaard: Love, literature & life

“Loving people is the only thing worth living for.” – Søren Kierkegaard

I will be participating in the “Ciclo de conferencias ‘Europa en la cultura'” held at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador.

The conference takes place next week.

Tuesday the 10th of December, I will be given a talk on “Kierkegaard and the concept of love as a political force.”

“Everything I do I do with love, and so I also love with love,” Kierkegaard writes in Either-Or.

***

The following two days, the 11th and 12th respectively, I will be organizing two seminars or lectures on “Philosophy, literature and a new therapeutical approach to life.

During these seminars, I will relate my thoughts to philosophers such as Deleuze, Weil, Murdoch and Wittgenstein to both problematize our current achievement society, as well as proposing possible escape routes. To strengthen my argument, I will–briefly–refer to artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Karl Ove Knausgård, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf and Roberto Bolaño.

If you happen to be in Quito, Ecuador, you’re welcome!

Catching life

Recently, I bought a boxset with the Television series Twin Peaks and David Lynch’s book Catching the Big Fish

“Ideas are like fish”, Lynch writes. “If you want a little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.” It is well-known that Lynch uses transcendental meditation to go deeper. Everything there is, comes from the deepest level, he says, which modern physics call the Unified Field.  “The more your consciousness—your awareness—is expanded, the deeper you go towards this source, and the bigger the fish you can catch.”

Reading this little book while watching Twin Peaks was illuminating. For example, the series opens with the log women speaking and telling us what it’s all about, she ends up saying: “Laura is the one.” 

She, Laura Palmer, is the Unified Field. Everything that happens in Twin Peaks, is related to her: Laura Palmer. 

The whole series is drawing a map of a complex totality as a way of gradually going deeper and deeper. For example, in later episodes, the log women speaks about dreams and ideas. The FBI special agent Dale Coper often gets his ideas, or clear up a misunderstanding, in his dreams, perhaps as an illustration of the “hidden” potential that lies deep within – something unconscious, something still unknown, waiting to actualized.

I recall seeing the series when I lived in small town (some years younger than the young bunch of main characters, some of which I found both cool and very attractive back then). Twin Peaks caught my attention like no other series had before (and not like anyone else had until I saw the first season of True Detective). 

Lynch, reminds me of the Danish poet and film instructor Jørgen Leth, who I once wrote a book about. (I encountered Leth’s poems and films more or less at the same time, I saw Twin Peaks). Leth is also semi-inspired by a humble philosophy where you’re open for whatever happens; you take it, whatever it is, and use it as good as you can. In continuation of Leth (and later with the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño), I’ve tried to develop a poetic and attentive philosophy, where the senses are all active

Both Lynch and Leth mention how certain coincidences that happened at their filmset later were integrated into their films, making them better. They both believe that time should be allowed to unfold as it unfolds. Time is not a passive medium within which acts are placed; rather, time is immanent “within” action, when opening for or making another possible future actual. They both believe that everything is connected.

I emphasize that everything is connected or interconnectivity, recalling the Norwegian eco-philosopher Arne Næss who once said something like: if I destroy another life, I also destroy myself to some degree. Why? Because relations compose who I am, who we are. Relating this idea to a small community like Twin Peaks, then the life of each one of the characters is not sustainable without the others, and vice versa. The death of Laura Palmer is, therefore, not only a tragedy for her and her closest relations; rather, it’s an attack on the social bonds that holds this community together. 

Perhaps Twin Peaks can be seen as how fragile or vulnerable these social bonds are when we focus on money, power, greed and hate, and how these bonds can be strengthen through friendships, honesty, trust … stressing something like an equal value of all lives. For example, special agent Dale Coper listens to all citizens with equal care and interest, even those we (the viewers) might look at with skepticisms. He is a fairly good person.

Seeing Twin Peaks and reading this little simple book brought me back to my own youth—perhaps not as something deeper (not sure I agree with Lynch’s vertical metaphor)—but as an expanding of my consciousness, reconnecting with these basic social bonds of love, care and friendships. Catching moments of life.

In a way, re-watching Twin Peaks made me recall how ethics is generous. It gives or shares without asking for anything because it passes on what cannot be owned: love, friendship or social bonds.  

Isn’t philosophy’s first virtue to be humble as in curious, open, available?  

Where Does the Wind Come From?

“Where does the wind come from?” my son asked. I wetted my finger and stuck it in the air. A mild and gentle breeze cooled one side of it. “That side,” I said, pointing nowhere. “OK,” he said.

Afterward, I thought about the problem that arose from the question, “Where does the wind come from?” The wind doesn’t really blow from one mouth. Even rivers don’t have just the one mouth. Rivers are constructed by their surroundings: the mountains, the rain, nearby lakes, and the ocean, to name but a few. There is no origin. Similarly, the wind comes from everywhere and nowhere. 

Perhaps everything comes from there: from nowhere.

Read the rest of the essay in Sky Island Journal

Kierkegaard: A Responsible Philosopher?

Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855) is without a doubt the greatest Danish philosopher. The father of existentialism. In a very simple way, he lived his philosophy. After all, to exist means not only to be alive and breathing but also to “stand out.” 

I always visualized existentialism as a vibe board, where a particular life stands out in an ocean of other lives. The image is romantic but it fits with Kierkegaard. He stood out. 

To the world he is known for setting the tone for such themes as fear, guilt, and anxiety, but also for choosing the choice, freedom, and love. In Denmark, his name is spoken with a certain amount of reverence because it can be difficult not to be seduced by his vision of life and poetic style, but also because he was radical. For example, Kierkegaard was openly critical of democracy when he elevated the individual above the crowd. In fact, he would not see imprisonment in isolation as one of the worst forms of punishment, because the truth emerges, undisturbed, between the individual and God. 

For Kierkegaard, I suggest, it all comes down to four important concepts: the self, truth, freedom, and one’s relationship to God.

Read the rest of the essay in Erraticus

Philosophical Leadership

Today, the concept of happiness has been so popularised that it has almost become a burden, perhaps even a cliché. There is a booming happiness industry of self-help books and programmes that rarely serve as more than a plaster on a sick and stressed culture. Companies hire ‘chief happiness officers’ in a valiant attempt to measure, weigh and quantify happiness, as if a person were just ‘another brick in the wall’.

The importance of balance

According to Greek philosopher Aristotle, happiness is rather less tangible than the happy pop lyrics of today. To him, happiness was leading a life worth living. Such a life is able to stay in balance despite the changing winds of time.

Even the art of balancing depends on our abilities and general life circumstances. But what seems to be crucial is independence from the time restraints and stress of our surroundings. It is good for our well-being to be extravagant with time every once in a while. Aristotle spoke of the golden mean as the way to a life worth living: neither too much nor too little. This is not as easy as it sounds, which many young people experience in their initial encounters with carousels, candy or alcohol. Buddha also spoke of the Middle Path between austerity and indulgence.

Kill your idols

This balanced path is found or even created as you gradually investigate life’s opportunities. Yet, unlike many contemporary self-help programmes that advocate a one-size-fits-all approach, the philosophical path to a happier life is paved with innumerable exits.

A happier life is never more than a side effect of leading a life worth living, a meaningful life.

It requires an understanding that the world’s so-called ideologies are never more than fleeting ideas disguised as incontestable and unalterable truths. Even Buddha said, ‘If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.’ Meaning: kill the idealised concept that inhibits a critical examination of your own mind.

Explore, experiment, try things out.

Philosophical love

Instead of focusing on happiness, I suggest concentrating on creating a meaningful existence through cultivating a more caring and loving relationship with all aspects of life: family, friends, work, nature, etc.

I am not, therefore, referring to obsessive narcissistic self-love, nor the romantic love of the nuclear family. Rather, I try to propose a worldlier, more politically or socially transformative love. A love that does not discriminate but embraces life in its multiplicity.

The challenge for a philosophical leader is to step back and make room for love, that is, to relinquish one’s need to control, one’s desire to polish one’s ego.

Only through a more honest and humble approach can we establish meaningful relationships. Only this way can love’s multifaceted revelations become manifest.

Philosophical leadership is about protecting life’s various energies, not one’s own ego. Therein also lies the potential for creating a future without domination; one of trust, respect, care and equality for all.

First published at the TBS blog

When I Am Gone

In the late spring of 2014, I left my home in Barcelona to walk in Norway for twenty days with my friend Jeppe. We planned to follow the last 300 kilometers of the pilgrim path to Trondheim, St. Olav’s Way, named after the Norwegian king who brought Christianity to Norway in ad 1033. 

I am not a religious person; I do have not faith in any of the marketed Gods but a strong belief in life. And yet, during this journey, I experienced an encounter with a muskox that I can only describe as healing, perhaps even spiritual.

Read the rest of my essay in Amethyst Review.

How will I be remembered?

He sits on the sofa and looks at their wedding pictures. It was three years ago. Not even three years, he thinks. They both looked so happy. Drunk. Elegantly wasted, as they had been so many times before. And later. Everything was later for them, postponed. For nearly thirteen years they had been together. That’s a long time. At such an age, most kids would be baptized.

Was it too long?

Read the rest of my short story in Daedalus Magazine.

Kierkegaard’s True Love

In the twilight of Søren Kierkegaard’s life, he begins to question his own philosophical fundament. He did not plan this. Actually, he would prefer to avoid it. But it is happening. While lying for nearly five weeks at the Royal Frederiks Hospital certain images, memories, and ideas surface.

Some of these trouble him.

He inscribed himself at the hospital after suffering from a blackout in the middle of the day. The purpose for this inscription is not recovery. Although he is only forty-two years old, he knows that this is a last preparation for the inevitable fact of life: that it ends. Soon he will meet his only master: God.

What he didn’t expect were the questions now emerging.

Read the rest of the short story here

Philosophy in dark times

Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars.”

I like this quote; it consists of several interesting elements. Most obvious is the ambiguity of stars: they can both guide us and blind us. I’ll get back to that.

We live in dark times, where terrorism, fascism, racism, sexism, and rigid nationalism seem to flourish everywhere. In addition, I am not even mentioning the environment, that is, how we treat this lovely earth that we are lucky enough to inhabit for a time. We live in a time where egoism has hindered us—that is, all sentient beings—from seeing how we are all interrelated.

Just a few days ago, the city where I live, Barcelona in Spain, suffered an awful terror attack, like so many cities before it. It happened in La Rambla, a commercial and touristic area characterized by its openness.

LaRambla

People come and go; even the locals that tend to avoid it have to pass through or by it, stroll along for a while when they go to the theater, the market, the museums, bookstores, cinemas, etc. It’s an intersection where all paths in Barcelona are fated to pass, once in a while. What happened in Barcelona was, of course, just one of far too many murderous attacks on innocent people, which has happened, and continues to happen, all around the world.

But let me step away from the street and over to an important and relevant book in these dark times. Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism opens with a German quote from Karl Jaspers. In my English translation, it says something like: “Don’t give in to the past or the future. Be entirely present is all that matters.” Or, “What matters is to be entirely present.”

The moral is clear: to pay attention to the present moment, that is, to what happens right now. Totalitarianism emerges because of our ignorance, our lack of awareness of what is taking place right here and now.

This Jasper quote makes me recall the story of Oedipus, who, after realizing that he had killed his father and made love to his mother, tears out his own eyes. He couldn’t take or carry the pain. For me, philosophy is about trying to become capable of carrying, that is, live on with pain. In Barcelona, like so many other places, people screamed, “We are not afraid!” I share this but yet, I am afraid … afraid that we don’t learn to see better, that this act of terror will not sharpen our senses, afraid that we will still neglect to deepen our questions about ourselves, involve ourselves. I’m also afraid that this tragic event might be used strategically by Catalan nationalists …

If Oedipus were a philosopher, he would not have blinded himself but looked the fear and pain right in the eyes.

LaRambla02

Let’s return to Dr. King’s quote emphasizing how we ought to look into the dark, perhaps to reflect why we didn’t notice the stars before it became so dark. Apparently, terrorism, racism, fascism, hatred, stupidity, etc. were already there; yet, how come we didn’t see them, just ignored them? Yes, many of the elements on my list have been very overt in many places in recent times, and still, how come so many didn’t notice the hate? Here, of course, the stars don’t refer to anything heroic—quite the contrary: they blind some, they seduce some with their too naïve logic. No one is born hating another person because of the color of her skin, as Barack Obama once said. It is easy to stigmatize. They appeal – those hateful ideologies – because they don’t require the hard work related to thinking, analyzing, etc.

A simple example is how changes in society happen gradually. Some people use diminishing and hateful words to describe other forms of life; some make jokes about minorities. And people let these pass. “It’s nothing,” they say. And yet, gradually what began with us not paying attention to how people use language strangles us.

On a more positive note, when it is dark we can see the stars, referring to those who are already fighting back, resisting stupidity. Those stars guide, inspire, or challenge us to think. It can be through demonstration (recall the women’s march soon after the election of Trump), humor, as well as serious and thorough in-depth journalism that allow readers to sharpen their vision. Those who meet hate with hate are not the stars. Hate is too easy. Instead, the stars are those who are capable of creating alternative ways of living, who are open to more compassionate and loving paths, who establish sustainable futures where we all can live together without being reduced to the same. We must take direct action. Question the dominant worldview in our culture such as neoliberalism, white supremacy, sexism, rigid religious interpretations, etc.

So, in dark times, like in all times, we need philosophy. Luckily, philosophy is for all. No discrimination here (see more here). Furthermore, love and thinking have always walked hand in hand in philosophy; if you’re not capable of loving, you’re not capable of thinking. That is why you find no convincing philosophy among political and religious terrorists, fascists, sexists, or racists. Socrates, one of the first philosophers, interacted with people out of love, and he cared for their reasoning, as if he knew that depression, unhappiness, or feelings of inferiority were symptoms of mental illness.

It is as if people who can’t think are responsible for what we call “evil.”