Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Overcoming Egocentrism

Understanding the needs, values, motives and emotions of other people has rarely been easy for individuals of any age.  Empathy requires people to possess the ability to acknowledge and comprehend a wide range of points of view other than their own.

It is natural for young children to experience egocentrism.  The trait is necessary for their survival.

Adolescents and young adults often find it difficult to overcome egocentrism, even when a situation requires empathy.  Overcoming egocentrism is a sign of healthy maturity.  Bullies are frequently egocentric.

In mature persons, egocentrism is a possible medical sign of unhealthy emotions and moods.  Egocentrism is probably the cause of much abuse, in any context, including a medical one.  Yet egocentrism is rarely acknowledged by a person expressing it, perhaps as a consequence of difficult dilemmas.

The social psychology of egocentrism is a fascinating topic to consider when creating world peace.  As I am sure you are aware, dear guest, a peaceful world requires that all egocentric actions are managed appropriately.

If you have ever had responsibilities as a parent, or in place of a parent, you will know how exhausting and exasperating egocentrism can be.  In political situations, such as parenting, and when making decisions in other groups, or for various groups of people, there is no place for excessively self-centred attitudes.

It is most unfortunate, therefore, that egocentrism is frequently displayed in political situations, even by persons responsible for making political decisions.  Why societies allow such situations to arise is most perplexing.

Whenever I wish to reflect on any important matter requiring a difficult decision, I retreat, whenever possible, to a more private area of the location in which I happen to be.  That is why, whenever I am here in Villa Twaklinilkawt, I retreat to my Adelaidean boudoir for such purposes.

As you may know, I have frequently provided access to a small, outer room of my boudoir for the benefit of individuals without a dignified private retreat of their own.  Empathy is required in a wide range of circumstances, of course.

Today, I wish to draw the attention of my guests to several relevant historical matters already examined and reflected upon in this salon:

Reflections on the ending of a war

Reflections on human rights

Reflections on enjoying a better world

I have often reflected on peace, and in peace, within the privacy of my boudoir.  Whilst doing so, I have made summaries of my most relevant journal notes.  Subsequently, I have made those summaries available for the enlightenment of the global servants of peace and various visitors.

Here is a small sample:

Notes about Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845)

A boudoir of one's own

Highly enlightened women, pre 1850

How to be a gentlewoman of some importance

Villa Twaklinikawt is continuing to be developed as the world's most peaceful and inclusive, non-physical cultural institution.  Before each of my frequent absences, I delegate many essential tasks to my well-trained colleagues and staff.  I obviously wish to ensure the 21st century Enlightenment can be suitably conducted with the urgency it deserves, wherever I happen to be or not to be.

Providing a public good often requires empathy.  Yet it is difficult to teach empathy to anyone.  It must be felt authentically, like the appreciation of an artistic work or the ability to understand a science.

The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has several worthy objectives in terms of identity, values and meaning.  I am here today mainly to observe the political situation in Australia.

This part of the world has some of the oldest continuing cultural pursuits on Earth.  It is also home to one of the most culturally diverse societies on Earth. Unfortunately, such facts are rarely acknowledged sufficiently though governments or businesses, or even through not-for-profit cultural organisations and multicultural family groups.

From the private cultural activities within a boudoir to the more public cultural activities of a serene, philosophical salon, and through every cultural activity in between, and through every cultural activity in parallel to those pursuits, identity, values and meaning must be acknowledged respectfully if mutual empathy is to be achieved.  How have you overcome egocentrism, dear guest?  Are you aware of the differences and similarities between egocentrism and ethnocentrism?

You may wish to reflect upon such matters in private, as I have done in my boudoir in the context of the following topics:

Females and fertility

Women of peaceful nurturing

A refreshing environment

Psychology, physiology and overcoming misogyny

Part of the aforementioned UNESCO Convention Text reads as follows:

The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, meeting in Paris from 3 to 21 October 2005 at its 33rd session,
Affirming that cultural diversity is a defining characteristic of humanity,
Conscious that cultural diversity forms a common heritage of humanity and should be cherished and preserved for the benefit of all,
Being aware that cultural diversity creates a rich and varied world, which increases the range of choices and nurtures human capacities and values, and therefore is a mainspring for sustainable development for communities, peoples and nations...

But what does this mean in practice?  As I consider myself to be an ethereal representative of the 21st century Enlightenment, not just as the chief executive officer of the International Training Centre for the Harmonious Interplay of Beauty, Understanding and Magnificence but also as a head of state of an enlightened nation, namely Nilkawt, I firmly insist that enlightened cultural leadership must be permitted to transcend egocentrism and ethnocentrism.

A continuation of the text reads as follow:

Recalling that cultural diversity, flourishing within a framework of democracy, tolerance, social justice and mutual respect between peoples and cultures, is indispensable for peace and security at the local, national and international levels,
Celebrating the importance of cultural diversity for the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other universally recognized instruments,
Emphasizing the need to incorporate culture as a strategic element in national and international development policies, as well as in international development cooperation, taking into account also the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000) with its special emphasis on poverty eradication,
Taking into account that culture takes diverse forms across time and space and that this diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities and cultural expressions of the peoples and societies making up humanity...

Matters of culture can often be emotionally challenging and sometimes intellectually confronting, especially as far as perceived taboos are concerned.  The intolerant political expression of an oppressive national identity is also a significant problem for any society to overcome.

In a similar way, international treaties can be seen as oppressive by persons who feel excluded by them.  There are many egocentric and ethnocentric attitudes towards cultural expressions perceived as uncivilised.  Yet it is only abuse itself that is uncivilised.  As indicated earlier, matters concerning war, human rights and the enjoyment of a better world must be reflected upon regularly.

Here are a few more summaries from my boudoir:

Catherine the Great (1729-1796)

Art, nudity, gender and ideals

Women and non-party politics

Enlightened cultural influence

The matter of social, cultural and political influence is particularly important to consider when attempting to assist a relatively mature person to overcome egocentrism.  Most of my own work is directed towards assisting persons older than twenty-seven years of age.

After examining many centuries of experience in such matters, in a wide variety of cultures, I know that younger persons are apt to become misguided on many occasions, even by their own minds and their closest friends.  Unfortunately, their parents and grandparents are often misguided, too, hence my own occasional expressions of subtle, empathic, enlightened guidance.

The maintenance of a cultural identity is no excuse for ignorance, hence the importance of an enlightened education and appropriately meaningful training.  These should preferably be experienced through voluntary, respectful attendance in such activities.

However, no-one has a right to value their own egocentrism, or that of anyone else, as an excuse for remaining ignorant.  This is why egocentric young persons require compulsory forms of education.  Human rights, based on empathy towards the long-term well-being of individuals, must always have the priority.

The UNESCO Convention Text continues as follows:

Recognizing the importance of traditional knowledge as a source of intangible and material wealth, and in particular the knowledge systems of indigenous peoples, and its positive contribution to sustainable development, as well as the need for its adequate protection and promotion,
Recognizing the need to take measures to protect the diversity of cultural expressions, including their contents, especially in situations where cultural expressions may be threatened by the possibility of extinction or serious impairment,
Emphasizing the importance of culture for social cohesion in general, and in particular its potential for the enhancement of the status and role of women in society,
Being aware that cultural diversity is strengthened by the free flow of ideas, and that it is nurtured by constant exchanges and interaction between cultures,
Reaffirming that freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies...

I first opened a small part of Villa Twaklinilkawt to the public in 2009.  The response has been overwhelmingly respectful, hence the gradual opening of other areas of the villa over time.  Have you taken the official virtual tour here recently?

Enlightened cultural expressions take many different forms, in many different locations.  At their heart is the mutual, respectful meeting of needs.

How do you usually understand the world and your place in it?

Here are a few more summaries from the boudoir:

Almost unknown women

Women of perpetual celebrity

Peaceful playfulness and affectionate regard

The qualities of truly nice persons

Many of my own online writings are still only in their first-draft form.  Once they are developed more clearly, how will they be valued, culturally and economically?  I have provide my drafted literary works to the public for free perusal purely for reasons of empathy.

One of my long-term aims, however, is to provide accessible, physical versions of Villa Twaklinilkawt in various parts of the world.  I wish to do so in order to further the cause of enlightened cultural leadership.  Have you completed any of the preliminary training towards that pursuit? 

Unlike a digital entity, a physical one requires considerable additional assistance, including financial assistance and political assistance.  If you know of an area of the world where egocentrism is properly managed, do let me know.

I have obviously done my best in Nilkawt to ensure empathy is expressed sufficiently there, especially in my official Nilkawtian residence, Palazzo Twaklinilkawt.  Unfortunately, I am yet to find anywhere else in the world suitable for my well-meaning and well-developed plans.

Recognizing that the diversity of cultural expressions, including traditional cultural expressions, is an important factor that allows individuals and peoples to express and to share with others their ideas and values,
Recalling that linguistic diversity is a fundamental element of cultural diversity, and reaffirming the fundamental role that education plays in the protection and promotion of cultural expressions,
Taking into account the importance of the vitality of cultures, including for persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples, as manifested in their freedom to create, disseminate and distribute their traditional cultural expressions and to have access thereto, so as to benefit them for their own development,
Emphasizing the vital role of cultural interaction and creativity, which nurture and renew cultural expressions and enhance the role played by those involved in the development of culture for the progress of society at large...

Cultural pursuits can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, with or without the influence of anthropology.  Cultural interactions can often be oppressive, especially when one person or group is attempting to change the behaviour of another.

The same can apply when one or more participants have more social, political, cultural and/or economic power than the rest.  With money and/or aggression and/or access to large audiences, egocentric persons find many ways to convert other egocentric individuals to a particular cause, belief or purchasing pattern.  Have you ever participated in the production and distribution of an advertisement?

Here are a few more relevant summaries from the boudoir of Villa Twaklinilkawt:

Sensitivity and gentleness

Volunteering for peace

The real economy and genuine care

A refreshingly safe environment

A federal election campaign is currently underway in Australia.  I am unsure as to whether it should be regarded as a minority cultural pursuit.  You may have an informed opinion on the matter.

Democracy should, in an ideal situation, be a way for everyone to overcome egocentrism and practice empathy.  But what does democracy mean in reality?  And how does it relate to culture?

As I have long been involved in developing enlightened cultural activities, and delegating expressions of them, my aim has always been to enhance the wider society by doing so.  This is easy to verify through your own explorations of culture here in Villa Twaklinilkawt.

Have you visited the music room here recently or even participated in the rehearsals there?

Have you participated, in a longitudinal way, in any of the ongoing experiments in the science studio?

Have you studied in the library?

Here are a few more sections of the UNESCO Convention Text:

Recognizing the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining those involved in cultural creativity,

Being convinced that cultural activities, goods and services have both an economic and a cultural nature, because they convey identities, values and meanings, and must therefore not be treated as solely having commercial value,

Noting that while the processes of globalization, which have been facilitated by the rapid development of information and communication technologies, afford unprecedented conditions for enhanced interaction between cultures, they also represent a challenge for cultural diversity, namely in view of risks of imbalances between rich and poor countries,

Being aware of UNESCO’s specific mandate to ensure respect for the diversity of cultures and to recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image...

Essential to all cultural activity is the use of symbols and symbolism.  Are you at all familiar with symbology?  Are you a member of a subculture with its own symbols and symbolism?  Are you part of an organisational culture?  Have you ever seen a logo?

To continue with the text of the 2005 Convention:

Referring to the provisions of the international instruments adopted by UNESCO relating to cultural diversity and the exercise of cultural rights, and in particular the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of 2001,
Adopts this Convention on 20 October 2005.

Objectives and guiding principles

Article 1 – Objectives
The objectives of this Convention are:
(a) to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions;
(b) to create the conditions for cultures to flourish and to freely interact in a mutually beneficial manner;
(c) to encourage dialogue among cultures with a view to ensuring wider and balanced cultural exchanges in the world in favour of intercultural respect and a culture of peace;
(d) to foster interculturality in order to develop cultural interaction in the spirit of building bridges among peoples;
(e) to promote respect for the diversity of cultural expressions and raise awareness of its value at the local, national and international levels;
(f) to reaffirm the importance of the link between culture and development for all countries, particularly for developing countries, and to support actions undertaken nationally and internationally to secure recognition of the true value of this link;
(g) to give recognition to the distinctive nature of cultural activities, goods and services as vehicles of identity, values and meaning;
(h) to reaffirm the sovereign rights of States to maintain, adopt and implement policies and measures that they deem appropriate for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions on their territory;
(i) to strengthen international cooperation and solidarity in a spirit of partnership with a view, in particular, to enhancing the capacities of developing countries in order to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions.

Throughout the world, there is much corruption.  All corruption is caused by egocentrism in one way or another.  Preventing corruption is therefore an enlightened cultural pursuit.

Through one of my many roles, I am still the Countess of Dada.  In the ethereal Nilkawtian county and diverse artistic territory of Dada, it is my ongoing duty to uphold the instinctive expressions of creativity of the inhabitants.  It is why I have since become a world expert on ethereal economics and other intangible phenomena.

Dada unofficially began as an art movement about one hundred years ago.  In one country, since known for its secretive banking institutions, Dada began in a nightclub.  In another part of the world, Dada helped to established the location as an influential 20th century artistic centre.  In both locations, at that time, Dada reflected political confusion.

Yet the politics of Dada have shifted to the peaceful centre over time, with the growing realisation that the leaders of both left-wing politics and right-wing politics have a tendency towards egocentrism.  That is why 21st century Dada, in its most well-balanced and moderate form, is also known as the culture of the Twaklinesque.  This is especially in the case its Adelaidezone training centre manifestation.

Indeed, I am frequently considered to be an avatarial being in the digital sphere, though I prefer to be visually personified through  ethereal images consensually borrowed from talented, respectable mortals of earlier centuries.

Dada has never been egocentric.  It has rarely been appreciated by anyone without a knowledge of its context, and its purpose.  It continues to challenge assumptions, which is the essential purpose of any cultural interchange, and the essential purpose of Dada itself.

Back to the boudoir now:


Gender, sexuality, identity and social categories

Cultural reproduction and cultural change

The social value of anything depends on how it is perceived.  In a similar way, a person's work has an economic value only if people are willing to pay the asking price for the goods and/or services produced.

Yet people pursue many activities other than for payment though a market economy.  A market economy can, in fact, encourage egocentrism when the rewards from it are great for some people and not for others.  Indeed, the egocentrism may be expressed by persons hoping for similar rewards themselves rather than the actual recipients of unusual success.

There is often an emotional gain to be enjoyed through self-chosen cultural activities, if not an intellectual gain or economic gain.  An intellectual gain, in the form of additional knowledge and understanding, many itself be enough reason for a cultural pursuit, especially if it is also enjoyable.

What motivates your own cultural activities?

The value of cultural activities, whether emotional, intellectual or economic, can only be judged during the experience of them.   There are also the social relationships of the participants to consider in terms of value, including the audience members.

Cultural activities can be long-term or momentary, too.  They can require years of preparation or none at all.  They can occur regularly or on a unique, single occasion.

Back to the UNESCO document:

Article 2 – Guiding principles

1. Principle of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
Cultural diversity can be protected and promoted only if human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, information and communication, as well as the ability of individuals to choose cultural expressions, are guaranteed. No one may invoke the provisions of this Convention in order to infringe human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or guaranteed by international law, or to limit the scope thereof.

2. Principle of sovereignty
States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to adopt measures and policies to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their territory.

3. Principle of equal dignity of and respect for all cultures
The protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions presuppose the recognition of equal dignity of and respect for all cultures, including the cultures of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples.

4. Principle of international solidarity and cooperation
International cooperation and solidarity should be aimed at enabling countries, especially developing countries, to create and strengthen their means of cultural expression, including their cultural industries, whether nascent or established, at the local, national and international levels.

5. Principle of the complementarity of economic and cultural aspects of development
Since culture is one of the mainsprings of development, the cultural aspects of development are as important as its economic aspects, which individuals and peoples have the fundamental right to participate in and enjoy.

6. Principle of sustainable development
Cultural diversity is a rich asset for individuals and societies. The protection, promotion and maintenance of cultural diversity are an essential requirement for sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations.

7. Principle of equitable access
Equitable access to a rich and diversified range of cultural expressions from all over the world and access of cultures to the means of expressions and dissemination constitute important elements for enhancing cultural diversity and encouraging mutual understanding.

8. Principle of openness and balance
When States adopt measures to support the diversity of cultural expressions, they should seek to promote, in an appropriate manner, openness to other cultures of the world and to ensure that these measures are geared to the objectives pursued under the present Convention.

The idea of culture is never static.  There are certainly cultural activities likely to be unworthy of respect, particularly when criminality and egocentrism are involved.  This is the central challenge within Principle 3 above.  No-one supporting Principle 1 would accept equal status between a peaceful culture and one with abusive practices.

I do hope that, by attempting to lead by example, my efforts will encourage my guests to express their own empathy through enlightened cultural and intercultural practices.  It is necessary to challenge unfair cultural oligopolies and unfair political oligopolies just as it is necessary to challenge unfair economic oligopolies.

Villa Twaklinilkawt is part of the world's cultural heritage, at least for the moment.  You may wish to express your support for its peaceful, digital continuation and perhaps even devote your intergenerational and intercultural empathy towards its potential future physical, political and cultural developments.

Historical Twaklinesque overview of openness and balance


October 2010
Light and serene

January 2011
World Enlightenment Forum

September 2011
To buy or not to buy


June 2012
Waltzing with Queen-Empress Matilda at the Diamond Jubilee

June 2012
Collecting your enlightened views

June 2012
Demands and distractions


October 2012
Who are "We the People"?

October 2012
Appreciating Adelaide Adagia

October 2012
Employment opportunities and you

October 2012
The justifiability and justice of equitable freedom

October 2012
The quaternary education sector

October 2012
In pursuit of good governance

October 2012
Factual accuracy and significant viewpoints

October 2012
Dadaism and the delusions of advertising

October 2012
Elections, lists and binders of women

October 2012
Trustworthy political bloggers and responsive blog producers

October 2012
Peace makers, policy makers, storytellers, script writers and speech makers 

November 2012
A special professional

November 2012
Quite perfect enough

November 2012
World Enlightenment Forum 2013

November 2012
Whatever is evident

November 2012
Correct posture for suburbia

November 2012
Supervising the news

November 2012
Twenty letters

December 2012
An introduction to admirable domestic architecture 

December 2012
All stages of life

December 2012
Youthfulness and usefulness

December 2012
Acknowledging reality

December 2012
Glamour is ugly

December 2012
Healthy acquisitions

December 2012
About seeking assistance

December 2012
Business as usual

December 2012
Enlightening the world

December 2012
The art of sensible commentary

December 2012
Have no fear. I am here.

December 2012
Dear Enlightened Being

December 2012
A fair price


August 2013
The art of election campaigns

September 2013
A new parlour maid

September 2013
A Minister for Ladies


September 2013
An artistic Twaklinage

September 2013
Artistic ladies in Australia


November 2013
By Appointment to the Countess of Dada

January 2014
An enlightened definition of Dada

April 2014
The Ethereal Grand Duchy of Nilkawt

August 2014
The appropriate community usefulness of the arts and sciences

November 2014
This is history

June 2015
Enlightened facilitation