beliefs

Benefits of Nudity

In today’s society sex and nudity are used to sell products and casual nakedness is frowned upon if not actually criminalised. (Incidentally nudity, per se, is not illegal in the UK.) This is harmful in many ways, body shame being amongst the least of them. So little wonder that naturism is perceived by society as being different, and even a thin cover for rampant sexuality.

Nudism is generally considered the act of being naked, while naturism is a lifestyle which may embrace more than just nudity. Actually I would define both a being lifestyles; it depends on one’s attitude. Both can be social or practised individually, although naturism is generally more social than individual (at least in my estimation) and often encompasses other environmentally aware beliefs. In what follows I’ve been lazy and tend to use the terms “nudism” and “naturism” fairly interchangeably.

I would define myself as a nudist; I am comfortable being nude, both privately and socially, but I’m not one for the wider naturist lifestyle if only from a lack of opportunity and a dislike of the regimentation so often expected by clubs and organisations. I like the ideas of naturism, but clubs etc. don’t work for me; so my nudism tends to be private. I would like that we could live in a world where nudity was accepted anywhere and at any time and we think nothing of practising social nudity with friends and family. Until then I wear clothes to cover other people’s embarrassment.

Nudism and naturism as lifestyles are all too often frowned upon by society; this is often as a result of fear and misunderstanding of what they’re about. Contrary to what many people think, naturism and nudism are definitely not sexual lifestyles; they are holistic, bringing about many physical, mental and societal benefits.

So here are a few of the Benefits of Nudity:

  1. Naturism as Therapy. According to naturists, one of the main benefits of naturism is that it provides an incredible feeling of relaxation. Being naked is more comfortable and removes the restrictions of clothing; it is very sensual (not sexual). This creates a feeling of well-being, which helps to invigorate the body. The feeling of the breeze or sun on your naked body, or of walking barefoot, is very invigorating, and enhances enjoyment of your surroundings. The feeling of euphoria that comes with being totally naked also helps alleviate mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.
  2. Body Acceptance. People are under pressure to live up to the mythical ideal image, and use clothes as a way of hiding their feelings of inferiority. The fear of being naked is a defence mechanism which many people develop (or have imposed on them by parents) to protect themselves from feeling inferior due to their self-perceived imperfections. Naturism helps avoid this by enabling people to better understand that their self-perceived body imperfections are nothing more than part of the glorious diversity of human bodies. This helps people to accept their bodies, and respect those of the others; in turn this has been shown to promote healthier relationships and sexuality.
  3. Self-esteem & Maturity. Clothes are also used by society as an indicator of social status and focus attention on sexuality; partial clothing is considered very sexually stimulating. Naturism on the other hand, focuses attention on the acceptance of the body whatever its perceived imperfections. Shedding clothes makes people familiar with nakedness; it ceases to be something to be scared of. Moreover once people remove their clothes, everyone is equal and very little attention is paid to the social status. All this helps people who engage in naturism be more mature sexually and have enhanced self-esteem.
  4. Tolerance. Naturism advocates self-respect and respect for others, which helps promote tolerance in the society. Clothing promotes a patriarchal society where women are expected to dress according to certain requirements. Naturism advocates the acceptance of other people as equals and helps people to respect their bodies. This helps to eliminate male oriented expectations that are repressive to women and respect for all.
  5. Money and Time. Clothes are a huge expense in terms of money, time spent shopping and environmental damage. Wearing, and needing, fewer clothes is good for your bank balance, your time balance, and for the planet.
  6. Natural Body Processes. People are taught that they are not supposed to expose their bodies. This cultivates body shame, makes people view genitals as “dirty” rather than parts of the body that have important functions. In turn this generates mystery, ignorance and fear about the natural processes of the body, such as adolescence, pregnancy and ageing.
  7. Better Health. Clothing, make-up and the like hinder the basic functions of the skin, including the correct microbial balance. Body crevices become hot, sticky and humid which encourages the growth of (for example) fungal infections. Nudity allows air and sun to the skin, preventing the sticky conditions loved by many pathogens and hence helping maintaining a healthier body. Additionally, and importantly, exposure to sunlight boosts the production of vitamin D.
  8. Healthy sexuality. Many studies show that countries which support naturism have a lower rate of teenage pregnancy and abortion, because naturism promotes the understanding of sexuality and body image. While this will not remove common teenage curiosity with sex, it does help it be more appropriate because of an enhanced awareness of what sex and bodily functions are all about.

At the end of the day, give or take the odd scar or mole, we all know what’s under my, and your, t-shirt and jeans. So really, where is the problem?

See also:
http://zenmischief.com/nudity.html
http://zenmischief.com/nudequotes.html
British Naturism
Is there a human “need” for being naked?

Personal Ethics and Morals

Almost every individual – excluding perhaps those insane persons who have no sense of right and wrong, but certainly including everyone from religious leaders to gangsters and serial killers – has a set of ethics.
… … …
Each person draws portions, sometimes bits and pieces, of their personal … ethics from an almost random variety of sources, such as their childhood upbringing, a dramatic or otherwise pivotal life experience, religious beliefs, discussions with family, colleagues, and friends, and the ethical teachings of whatever philosophers [they] may have read.
https://www.irmi.com/articles/expert-commentary/where-our-ethics-come-from

I’ve written a number of times before about ethics and morals (see for example here and here). But stimulated by a conversation with one of my friends (yes, somehow I do still have one or two!) some days ago I’ve been moved to return to the subject at a more personal, rather than philosophical, level.
 
What follows is a summary of some of those “bits and pieces” I’ve garnered over the years as my personal ethics and morals. These are the things which I try to live by.

  1. Causality. Things are as they are for a reason which is seldom disclosed to us. There are more things in heaven and earth than we can ever know or understand.
  2. Respect People. Always treat others as you would wish them to treat you – with respect, dignity, kindness, equality, compassion and integrity. Essentially this is the old adage: do as you would be done by. Or in the words of Matthew 7:12, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Or to spin it the other way: if it harm none, do as you will. If you can do this one thing, all the rest pretty much follow.
  3. Respect Nature. We are but a small part of this Earth. It is not ours, it was here long before us and it should be here long after us. We are merely it’s current custodians and as such we should behave as ethically towards the Earth, Nature and all living creatures as we should to other human beings. Do not rape our natural resources or screw the environment. That doesn’t mean being vegetarian, living off-grid or the like – after all eating plants and felling trees can be considered murder just as much as eating animals – but it does mean respecting what you do eat (we almost always raise a glass to the animal we’re eating), recycling as much as possible, and not consuming for the sake of it. Do not play god; there is no reason to suppose we know better than Mother Nature.
  4. Be Honest. Be open, honest and truthful in all things and at all times. Open government and fair dealing. Admit it when you don’t know; don’t guess.
  5. Respect Relationships. Never do anything to unhook or put in jeopardy anyone else’s relationship. This is something I formulated for myself as a teenager: that I would never do anything to harm or unhook another relationship. It didn’t matter how much I fancied the girl (and for me it always has been girls) in question, nor how strongly or loosely committed the relationship; if there was a relationship the parties were strictly off-limits as anything more than friends. It just seemed to me to be ethical, kind and respectful not to meddle while the relationship existed. (This is one reason Noreen and I knew each other for several years before we started dating.) I have continued to live by this, not just as student on the pull, but as an adult where others might have seen/wanted an opportunity for adultery.
  6. Freedom of Speech. Be liberal and relaxed in dealing with other people’s views and beliefs. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and is entitled to express those opinions even if I don’t like it. I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death, your right to hold and express your opinion. To do otherwise is but a short step to censorship.
  7. Beliefs. Each of us is entitled to believe whatever we like. Just don’t expect anyone else to share your beliefs. It’s not what you believe that’s the problem, but what you think I should believe.
  8. Use Your Abilities. Do everything to the best of your ability.
  9. Don’t Judge. Don’t be judgemental: you can never know how someone else feels inside, what motivates them, nor how their relationship works, so don’t assume or judge.
  10. No Revenge. Don’t hold grudges or be vengeful – be compassionate and forgiving; understand the other person’s position and move on. It’s OK to be angry; it’s never OK to be cruel.
  11. Admit Errors. If you’re wrong, be strong enough to admit it, apologise and if possible do something to remediate the error. Never blame others for your failings.
  12. Never Regret. Do not regret anything which has happened, even if you now know it was not the best thing to do. If it’s good, that’s great. If it isn’t, it’s experience to learn from and move on. We all do things that with hindsight we wish we hadn’t; but they cannot be undone and rarely properly repaired. Regret is unhelpful and destructive.
  13. Be Responsible. You are responsible for what you do, say and think; accept that responsibility. However you are not responsible for other people’s emotions, beliefs, actions and reactions; nor they for yours.

That’s the high level stuff and I feel sure I’ve left something out. I can’t think any of it is very startling, but it is interesting to put it all together – something I’ve never done in quite this way before – as it really does make one consider whether the whole is self-consistent. Of course, I’ve not yet made any attempt to integrate this with my core constructs (such as I know them).

And below all that are my personal beliefs, like the legalisation of sex work and marijuana; nudity and body acceptance; the scientific method; the absence of deities; etc.

Heavy stuff. I need a gin & tonic.

Open Door

There’s been this meme circulating recently, especially on Facebook, about people having an “open door policy”. Leaving aside that I generally don’t get involved in such viral nuisances, I’ve not engaged with this because (a) the wording felt wrong and (b) it is not new for us and should not need saying.

About 35 years ago Noreen and I made a deliberate and considered decision not to have children. Instead we said that we would always be available for our friends, their children, etc. if and when they needed us.

All our friends know this (at least they all should know this!); most have been told at some appropriate time. And as the younger ones reach an age to properly understand (generally around 15-16, but sometimes earlier), we have a quiet conversation with them about it. What we say is ad lib but generally something like:

Know that we are here if you ever need us. No parents, however good they are (and our friends really are brilliant parents) can provide everything a child needs. However open, frank and honest your relationship with your parents there will always be something you don’t want to talk them about – but something you would like to discuss with someone detached and outside the family. That is what we are here for. You can come and talk to us at any time and about anything; literally anything: boyfriend/girlfriend problems, exam worries, sexuality; if you’re in trouble and need bailing out of the police station; if you need a bed for the night; if you want to talk about life and what direction you’re going; or you just want someone to talk to. Remember, we may be geriatrics, but we’ve been there ourselves. We were students in the heady hippie days of the late-60s/early-70s so we’ve either done it or we have a friend who has. You are very unlikely to shock us – one way or another we’ve encountered most things. We don’t do judgement. And we aren’t going to tell you what you must do. We’re here to listen and to help you work through whatever is worrying you. Just pick up the phone or turn up on our doorstep (call first if you can to ensure we’re at home) at any time; day or night. And most importantly anything you tell us is in complete confidence; it will not be repeated to your parents/family/friends unless you specifically ask that it is. This is what we are here for and why we chose not to have children of our own. Here’s a card with our contact details; put it in your wallet and keep it in case you ever need it.

Yes, this is indeed a part of why we are here. Having someone detached to talk to is important. (It’s like mentoring at work: I always did it and vowed that I always would even if management told me not to.)

Over the years we’ve helped a number of friends in various stages of separation and relationship problems, medical worries, and confusion about life. We’ve even been called at 3AM by a friend about to appear in court and who expected to end up in jail (they didn’t). More than one of our friends has said to us that although they’ve never needed to take us up on this, it is a great comfort just knowing we’re there if needed. There are several friends for whom we are either “spare parents” or “spare siblings”, which is a good way of looking at all this.

This is more than just having an “open door policy” or “a friend in need”. It is about the meaning of life; being a true friend; and being ethical.

Remembering Hierarchies

Hierarchies of all sorts get a bad rap these days. We’re all supposed to be equal and everything should be egalitarian. But a few days ago Aeon published an interesting article from a group of academic thinkers. (They don’t call themselves philosophers, though such is what they are.) They suggest we need hierarchies; indeed we can’t function efficiently without them.

As usual it was a long-ish read, so here, via a handful of extracts, is a summary of the key points for me.

Preamble …

The modern West has placed a high premium on the value of equality. Equal rights are enshrined in law while old hierarchies of nobility and social class have been challenged … Few would doubt that global society is all the better for these changes. But hierarchies have not disappeared …

… the idea of a purely egalitarian world in which there are no hierarchies at all would appear to be both unrealistic and unattractive. Nobody, on reflection, would want to eliminate all hierarchies, for we all benefit from the recognition that some people are more qualified than others to perform certain roles in society. We prefer to be treated by senior surgeons not medical students, get financial advice from professionals not interns. Good and permissible hierarchies are everywhere around us.

… We live in a time when no distinction is drawn between justified and useful hierarchies on the one hand, and self-interested, exploitative elites on the other.

Correct use …

Apart from their civic importance, hierarchies can be surprisingly benign in life more broadly. Hierarchy is oppressive when it is reduced to a simple power over others. But there are also forms of hierarchy that involve power with, not over …

Take the examples of good relationships between parents and children, teachers and students, or employers and employees. These work best when the person higher in the hierarchy does not use that position to dominate those lower down but to enable them to grow in their own powers.

A common Confucian ideal is that a master ought to aim for the student to surpass him or her. Confucian hierarchies are marked by reciprocity and mutual concern. The correct response to the fact of differential ability is not to celebrate or condemn it, but to make good use of it for the common [good].

Bounds of influence … Experts are expert in limited domains, but most real-life problems are complex and multi-domain …

To protect against abuse by those with higher status, hierarchies should also be domain-specific: hierarchies become problematic when they become generalised, so that people who have power, authority or respect in one domain command it in others too … we see this when holders of political power wield disproportionate legal power, being if not completely above the law then at least subject to less legal accountability than ordinary citizens. Hence, we need to guard against what we might call hierarchical drift: the extension of power from a specific, legitimate domain to other, illegitimate ones.

This hierarchical drift occurs not only in politics, but in other complex human arenas. It’s tempting to think that the best people to make decisions are experts. But the complexity of most real-world problems means that this would often be a mistake. With complicated issues, general-purpose competences such as open-mindedness and, especially, reasonableness are essential for successful deliberation.

Get a life …

One reason why hierarchy is offensive to the modern, egalitarian mind is that it implies deference to those higher up than them. But if the idea that deference can be a good thing seems shocking, then so be it. Philosophy should upset and surprise us.

Paternalism …

… paternalism … has become another dirty word. Political paternalism can be defined as coercive interference with autonomy. This form of hierarchy is generally regarded with great suspicion for very good reason: many authoritarian governments have disregarded the interests of the people under the pretence of acting in them. But there might be a justification for at least some forms of this, as paternalism can, in fact, foster autonomy.

See the Confucian argument above.

So in summary …

Hierarchy has been historically much-abused … Nonetheless, we think it important to put these ideas forward as an invitation to begin a much-needed conversation about the role of hierarchy in a world that is in many ways now fundamentally egalitarian, in that it gives equal rights and dignity to all. However, it clearly does not and cannot give equal power and authority to all. If we are to square the necessary inequality that the unequal distribution of power entails with the equally necessary equality of value we place on human life, it’s time to take the merits of hierarchy seriously.

Most Important People

I came across the attached article from the Naples Daily News (Florida) at the beginning of the year.

I don’t know I 100% agree with the author – well it is American! – as I think he has tilted the balance too far from the current norm and I think there is a balance to be struck. However from what I see around me the best adjusted children are those where the family apparently adheres, more or less, to his tenets.

Here’s an image of the article, and in case you can’t read it easily I reproduce the text below.

[ Image Removed ]


Naples Daily News, Sunday 1 January 2017

Your kids should not be the most important in the family

John Rosemond, Family Psychologist

I recently asked a married couple who have three kids, none of whom are yet teens, “Who are the most important people in your family?”

Like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they answered, “Our kids!”

“Why?” I then asked. “What is it about your kids that gives them that status?” And like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they couldn’t answer the question other than to fumble with appeals to emotion.

So, I answered the question for them: “There is no reasonable thing that gives your children that status.”

I went on to point out that many if not most of the problems they’re having with their kids – typical stuff, these days – are the result of treating their children as if they, their marriage, and their family exist because of the kids when it is, in fact, the other way around. Their kids exist because of them and their marriage and thrive because they have created a stable family.

Furthermore, without them. their kids wouldn’t eat well, have the nice clothing they wear, live in the nice home in which they live, enjoy the great vacations they enjoy, and so on. Instead of lives that are relatively carefree (despite the drama to the contrary that they occasionally manufacture), their children would be living lives full of worry and want.

This issue is really the heart of the matter. People my age know it’s the heart of the matter because when we were kids it was clear to us that our parents were the most important people in our families. And that, right there, is why we respected our parents and that, right there, is why we looked up to adults in general. Yes, Virginia, once upon a time in the United States of America, children were second-class citizens, to their advantage.

It was also clear to us – I speak, of course, in general terms, albeit accurate – that our parents marriages were more important to them than their relationships with us. Therefore, we did not sleep in their beds or interrupt their conversations. The family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after-school activities. Mom and Dad talked more – a lot more – with one another than they talked with you. For lack of pedestals, we emancipated earlier and much more successfully than have children since.

The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a corporation is the CEO. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important person in a family are the parents.

The most important thing about children is the need to prepare them properly for responsible citizenship. The primary objective should not be raising a straight-A student who excels at three sports, earns a spot on the Olympic swim team, goes to an A-list university and becomes a prominent brain surgeon. The primary objective is to raise a child such that community and culture are strengthened.

“Our child is the most important person in our family” is the first step toward raising a child who feels entitled.

You don’t want that. Unbeknownst to your child he doesn’t need that. And neither does America.


Message Getting Home

At long last a few UK politicians are getting the message about the need to decriminalise sex work. This is from the Independent a few days ago.

Liberal Democrats move to quash all historical sex-work convictions
of prostitutes and punters

What I find especially interesting, and slightly surprising, is that ex-senior policeman Lord Paddick is in favour. The police aren’t generally considered to be forward thinkers, but then Paddick has always been an outlier.

Now to get the message home to the rest of our politicians that New Zealand seems to have the best model.

Idea Rights

I’ve just come across this on Twitter …


Click the image for a larger view

It’s clear, concise and correct.

Although as a couple of people have pointed out in the comments

people have the right to ideas, thoughts, according to UN Declaration of Human Rights

and

people actually have the Human Right to think what they want

Which is right — the abstract (ideas) and the non-living (eg. rocks, buildings, cars) cannot have rights per se although in some circumstances the living might be said to have rights on their behalf (think, burial of the dead). It is people — in fact arguably all living things (people, cats, cockroaches, trees) — which have rights.

Talking Therapy

Over the years I’ve tried talking therapies, of various sorts, on a number of occasions and each time I have found they don’t work even if one persists with them for a protracted period.

In fact it is my contention that they don’t really work for anyone, although some may be able to delude themselves and reach a cosmetic resolution — which I guess is working of a sort.

Last evening I was reading a blog post by our favourite zen master, Brad Warner under the banner I Hate Myself. Brad points out that the root of the problem is that the “I” and the “Self” are one and the same, so trying to fix one to fix the other is as useful as trying to argue your way out of a paper bag — pointless and productive of very little. And because we become aware of our failure it often makes the situation worse, rather than better.

Indeed it seems to me this is what talking therapies are trying to do: to fix (your variant of) “I Hate Myself” by getting you to separate the “I” and the “Self” when this is neither possible nor sensible.

And this is why talking therapies don’t generally work: they’re based on the false premise that “I” and “Self” are different and can be separated.

In the words of the exam paper: Discuss.

Don’t Criminalise Us …

The fight to get governments to decriminalise sex work (and sex workers) continues. Here’s a piece which highlights the views of Europe’s sex workers — most of whom are (voluntary, not trafficked) migrants.

It is notable that it isn’t just the sex workers who are saying sex work should be decriminalised. This view is backed by

major human rights organisations such Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the World Health Organization and several other United Nations agencies such as UN Women and the UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work are also calling for the decriminalisation of sex work, noting that decriminalisation guarantees better working conditions, and reduces the social vulnerability and marginalisation of sex workers.

And as that implies many are now warning that the basic human rights — as covered, for instance, by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — are being violated; and that those violations are state sanctioned the world over.

When are people going to wake up to what’s going on around us? It’s being done in our name, and yet how many of us agree with it?