Morality

What is morality, she asked.
“Judgement to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, and courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price. But where does one find it?”

The young boy made a sound that was half-chuckled, half-sneer:

“Who is John Galt?”

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

Recently I have ventured into a bit more philosophical reading with “Justice: What is the right thing to do” by Michael Sandel. In that book, he discussed at length about the development of philosophical discussion regarding what constituted justice aka what was the right thing to do, from the simple idea that whatever made the most people happy to the intertwine between religion, social custom and human liberty. If you have not read about him, I do recommend his lecture series on Youtube.

 

After I have finished his book, since I have a lot of free time, I start on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Whilst I do agree that the book portrayed an extreme view on the government oppression and special interest group on the market, up to the point of limit technological advance for the sake of “social equality”, I realize that the book does contain deep philosophical discussion on morality, human liberty.

To be honest, such discussion regarding human liberty is fascinating for me. From an Asian perspective, there is extensive rulebooks, social norms on what constitutes a good behavior that each of us (the citizen, son, father, etc.) is expected to conform. Therefore, such book opens a whole new discussion point for me. I remember whenever I challenge my family decision, they leverage on the main thesis that this is a norm, a custom, and culture of the society and I should not deviate or else the family and I will be condemned by others. Sometimes, I do wonder who are those “others”, so omnipotent that able to judge us “impartially”. I argue that whatever custom, the social norm is not always what guides us, individually into a good life and worse, might not be right to do. Nevertheless, after multiple heated exchanges, I have decided to give up. Despite my defeat, I maintain my points that I have my own liberty to pursue whatever is right for me or makes me feel happy as long as I do not do anything wrong or violate other people rights. Social norm and customs present for people to observe and interpret. They are not fixed and constantly change to reflect the current trend. Therefore, applying social norm blindly into one’s decision will sometimes be counterproductive and worse might not be the right thing to perform.

Anyway, as I am leaving Asia to North America, I am getting straight into the multiverse of opinion, perspectives, religion. As such, I am ready to embrace them 🙂

 

I read, therefore I am

Technically I should have written about 3 leadership sins, in fact, I have nearly completed the draft but can’t bring myself to complete it. Hence, I switch to this topic as it is more lighthearted and seems way more interesting to me than work lolz. Maybe it is for the next post.

Anyway, every year I have my reading target. Last year it was 30 books and I completed 32. This year, it is 33 and I have read 10 so far. However, the quantity of book is not a primary goal but the quality is. You can read 30 short books and call it a day but you didn’t find any of those interesting or worth your time. Thus, you have failed. Every year I try to identify a book that truly moves me regardless whether I agree with the author or not. Last year, that honor went to “Animal Farm” by George Orwell and to a certain extent, “The Sympathizer” by Nguyen Viet Thanh. People might be familiar with “Animal Farm” with this quote “All animals are equal, but some animal are more equal than others” and “Khong co gi quy hon doc lap tu do” (“Nothing is more precious than freedom and independence”) vs (“Having nothing is more precious than freedom and independence”) from “The Sympathizer”.

For the first half of 2016, I read quite a lot of Russian classics e.g, Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Brother Karamazov. I totally immersed myself with the guilt that engulfed Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment or intrigued my mind with ” Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” in Anna. Unknowingly, my writing style reflected the genre that I read. It was quite funny that during my performance review, my boss asked me if I had read any Russian classics so far. He commented that he sensed some Dostoyevsky usage of adjective and maybe some Tolstoy premise in my mid-year performance haha. At the end of 2016, I told him that I was reading Kafka so watch out for some enigmatic language and complex set up in my review. Thankfully I didn’t do it.

Recently, I have read quite a lot of Kafka stories such as The Trial, Metamorphosis, The Hunger Artist, etc. I am in the middle of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Besides, I have completed When Breath Becomes Air By Paul Kalanithi and 1984 by George Orwell (thank you, Trump). I reckon that all the book I have read so far for 2017 contains a strong sense of melancholy, darkness in the setup. Some of them was a like a utopia that seems so near yet so incomprehensible and slowly drifting away from the main characters. Anyway, my choice of books might be affected by the current working situation that I am stuck at.

Regardless of circumstances, reading has become my habit and I am glad that I am still maintaining that habit since young (not like I am old or anything ;)). Reading has changed my perception of the world, provided me with anecdotes for my conversations with friends, colleagues, and clients and yes, shaped who I am.

Below is the list of books I have done for 2017 YTD.

1984

The Refugee

The Trial

Metamorphosis

The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka

Reading Lolita in Tehran

When Breath Becomes Air

A Peace to End all Peace (ongoing)

One Hundred Years of Solitude (ongoing)

The Blackswan (ongoing) (by Nassim Taleb, not the novel one) – he is into himself too much ~.~

Why Nation Fail (ongoing)