0.1. FROM THE AUTHOR
This book is about human(s), and it is intended for those who feel the need to be a citizen and actively participate in preserving and improving their state. We all need to be alert enough to see what already works well in our state and what needs to be cared for and protected. It is also necessary to keep an eye out for anything that is not yet too well, that needs improvement, amending, and what should be gotten rid of. The world is changing, and we all need to think about what fosters or hinders our lives, both in rural and urban life.
The Republic of Estonia must ensure that the Estonian nation and culture are preserved through ages. Consequently, only a state that creates and protects the preconditions for its autonomy can be considered acceptable. This really requires an unwavering faith and a firm desire to strengthen the state and society persistently and consistently, the individual and the family, and to preserve conditions conducive to the formation of civic consciousness and civic engagement.
The government cannot maintain society or culture; only the people themselves can do this if the government and parliament foster it (and do not hinder or harm it).
Our state, created and proclaimed on February 24, 1918, is built on the principles of freedom, justice, and law. Everything false and deceitful, unjust, and harassing, should be impermissible in Estonia. Therefore, it is inappropriate to support parties that, once in power, do the exact opposite of what they promised during election campaigns. There should be zero tolerance for political fraud, favoritism, and disregard for the will of majority of people.
According to the Constitution, Estonia is an independent and autonomous democratic state, where the people are the bearers of supreme state power. The state, the people, the supreme power, its exercise, and the responsibilities it entails are not empty and meaningless words but represent important concepts for every citizen. Unfortunately, there are few opportunities for delving into meaning and connections between them.
To navigate social and cultural life, a citizen should use these and other terms that have a concrete and clear meaning. If everyone interprets these words and the interconnections between them in their own way, then discussions will become impossible, because of the lack of mutual understanding. Models are needed for learning and examining.
In medicine, biology, and law, one should know the terminology in Latin in order to be acceptably precise. To obtain a diploma, it is necessary to pass many exams, proving that all the concepts required for orientation in a particular area and the connections between them are mastered as a system. Nothing like this exists when discussing society; individuals who have achieved power through fraudulent schemes do not even want to hear about learning something to mastery. We explain in this book why we should pay attention to learning of home and homeland, human relations, communication, and environment.
It is not studying that helps to move forward, but intelligence, diligence, perseverance, systematic thinking, and action. At the same time, one should remember that hopes and future cannot be based on any kind of aid. In a society, aid is only something that helps to grow more independent. If cooperation changes into so-called “aid”, it can lead to dangerous and deepening dependence and even more dangerous negligence. People who are used to living off the help of others will find at any event and always that there is not enough aid, and that there is no point in learning and independent thinking.
One of the main causes of impoverishment, whether here or in Africa, is so-called “aid.” Aid can create learned helplessness, the most serious consequence of which can be the loss of sovereignty.
Enrichened are those who are willing and able to apprehend themselves and their surroundings adequately, who are able both to create and live independently and in cooperation with others, who can be sufficiently fastidious and generous, and who wants to stay in lifelong learning process.
That said, any unsystematic learning can only form impressions. One can become independent only through the kind of study that results in maturity to think, analyze, generalize, synthesize, model, and extrapolate, decide and execute decisions, to be in perpetual and productive collaboration.
It should be kept in mind that learning can form only some preconditions for smartening: first of all, terms (material for thinking), thought structures (theories), principles of action (methodology), tools (methods) for action; moral concepts (morality and philosophy of morality – ethics), ideals and sublime ideas, virtues and worldview, as well as perceptions of the beautiful and ugly – both aesthetically and ethically.
In the process of learning knowledge is accumulated. Understanding is achieved through thinking and reasoning. But only those who are sufficiently critical, precise, consistent, independent, and free become smarter.
For Estonia to last through ages, we must achieve the kind of thinking capacity by which everyone in the country can differentiate what is reasonable and necessary, and what is useless and dangerous. There must be the ability to distinguish who is who and what is what. This should be kept in mind in any kind of elections. One cannot give a vote to just anyone. Vote can only be given to someone who deserves it, who is honest, fair, competent, and loyal to their people.
In our reasoning, we start from the concept of responsibility, or more precisely, civic responsibility. A sense of responsibility is formed through decisions. In this book, you will find food for thought about the conditions under which participation in the decision-making process is really possible, and in which cases it is replaced by a decision-making game, and what comes along with it. In society, participation in such games can lead to estrangement, estrangement to alienation and role conflicts, where some no longer want to and others cannot live the old way.
The book that you are holding in your hands was written in order to help, at least a little, to be able to navigate society as a system. The book does not offer concrete solutions and in no way claims to be absolutely right. The concepts contained in it can contribute to a broader view of oneself and the world. For thinking big, one must see the whole. Only a person who can think big is able to act precisely and effectively.
It is important that everyone is capable to think independently and find suitable solutions for themselves, doing so thanks to society and the environment, and realizing that cooperation contributes to moving forward. Only in this way can the population form a civil society that cares for its state and acts as befits the bearer of the supreme power.
0.2. ABOUT THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK
This book contains 13 chapters.
Chapter 1 (“Person”) provides a brief overview of the characteristics of a person and the points of view necessary to study a person (first of all, oneself). A person is regarded as an individual, a personality, and a subject, a totality of roles, etc. It explains why a citizen should improve their competency and be humane. The thesis is substantiated that citizens are not born but become citizens in the process of upbringing and self-education.
Chapter 2 (“Life”) examines the individual in the context of social connections. In the biological sense, a person’s life is the period between birth and death, but in the social sense, it is possible to live several lives in parallel, or even to end one life and start a new one. It is about the way and style of life, rhythm and tension, quality of life, etc.
Chapter 3 (“Environment”) offers the reader an overview of the living environment, its structure and meaning, and a discussion of what is in it apart from the natural component. Particular attention is paid to the social environment as the source of many anxieties and joys. Concepts such as estrangement and alienation and related factors are considered; an attempt is made to interpret the mental environment as a situation.
Chapters 4 (“Society”) and 5 (“Culture”) examine the individual in the context of social and cultural connections. We are all simultaneously members of society and representatives of culture, as well as members and representatives of several communities and our families.
Chapter 6 (“Communication”) deals with inter-human relationships and connections formed through meaningful symbols and signs, as well as through actions. The communion, preconditions, effects, and consequences of communication and interaction are examined.
Chapters 7 (“Activity System”) and 8 (“Cognition System”) give an overview forming models of thinking (theories) as well as principles and means of cognition and other actions (methodology and methods). More is said about scientific cognition.
Chapter 9 (“Education”) deals with the communion of knowledge, skill, and understanding; the communion of education, informedness, and experience; and the educational system from various perspectives. The priority of upbringing is emphasized, as well as the fact that development of the subject is a function of creativity, not the process of learning. All social institutions, including school (the entire network of educational institutions), have educational significance.
Chapter 10 (“Work”) provides an overview of the preconditions and foundations for productive activity. It talks about the form and content of work, the resources necessary for it, and the conditions. In addition to the meaning and importance of work, the intensity and rhythm of work, working relationships, work culture, and the relationship between job performance, wages, and other rewards are examined.
Chapter 11 (“Management”) deals with the preconditions of decisions and self-regulation, the quality of a decision, decision making, its execution, and evaluating the results. The process is considered as the object of management. It clearly explains why it is so important to fix the main process and maintain only those auxiliary, supplementary, accompanying, and coercive processes that contribute to the development of the main process. An attempt is made to reveal the identity and activities of the manager as a teacher.
Chapter 12 (“Cooperation”) examines the division of labor that emerges from mutual activity and the preconditions for the professionalization and synergy that depend on it. Bureaucracy and demagoguery, which hinder cooperation and can lead to degradation, are discussed in more detail.
Chapter 13 (“Concerns”) deals with the most pressing issues in Estonian society, primarily poverty and the birth rate.
0.3. FOUNDATIONS OF INTERPRETATION
In order to gain knowledge about any object or phenomenon, person or group of people, process, or any part of it (action), it will be wise to find out first what it is. To consider an object, it is necessary to find many points of view. A good example of the fact that it is impossible to see the whole from a single point of view (no matter which one) is a pyramid viewed from five points (See Figure 0.3.1.). In the first case, the view is directed from above, in the second from the side, in the third from below, and in the fourth and fifth from different angles and directions. All the pictures represent the same object, but they all differ from each other, and they are all true.
Likewise, it would be worthwhile to find quite a few points of view to consider a person, family, organization, environment, and much more. There is no single correct view or opinion! The whole cannot be judged based on what is seen from one point of view.
After that, you can see what the object consists of, what its structure is (how parts, elements and subsystems are in relation to each other), what its genesis and dynamics are (how this object was formed, how it functions, changes, and develops – if it develops). The next step is to see what characterizes the object, what it depends on, and what, in turn, depends on it.
So, step by step, we are very likely to come to an understanding. The logic of interpretation can be explored using the illustration here. (See Figure 0.3.2.)
In order to draw conclusions while reading this book, it is necessary to distinguish and find connections between such concepts as general, specific, and individual; objective and subjective; knowledge and opinion; motive, motivation, and motivating; past, present, and future; aim, goal, and (available) means; principles and criteria; data and information; connections and dependencies; causes, results, and consequences, etc. It is necessary to distinguish between describing, measuring, evaluating, and counting, and to see under what conditions it is possible to obtain reliable data, how to make indices, model and extrapolate.
Some readers might like to have so-called recipes, ready-made meaningful models, while others would like to see only starting points for creating such models. I am afraid that it is not possible to create a text about people and society that would be equally understandable, necessary, and interesting for everyone, and equally applicable everywhere. We do not set that task for ourselves. In this book you will find something to consider and discuss, amend, deepen, and expand on, linking it to your personal experience and the experience of others, to expectations and lofty ideas, and on the basis of which you can build further thoughts, make predictions, and create scenarios of different colors, from “pink” to “green” to “black.”
HOW TO APPROACH THE PROBLEM?
As a citizen is formed from a resident of a country, it is important to learn to identify problems in society and culture, in all spheres of life and at all levels of regulation (see Figure 7.2.1.), and to always be ready to find connections between them and their causes.
Sometimes a problem is called a difficulty that could not be overcome, or a question that did not have a suitable answer. In our book, a conscious and then meaningful contradiction between the actual and the desired state of affairs is considered as a problem.
Conscious contradiction can arise only in the minds of people. There are no problems in objects, phenomena, processes, texts, health, etc.
At all levels of regulation and governance, including the family and community, each problem has its own specific content, meaning, and impact. What is appropriate for one level or one culture may be completely inappropriate for other levels and cultures.
At least three preconditions are necessary for awareness and identification of the problem:
- knowledge of the current circumstance, conditions, and situation (a fixed view of the initial position);
- a view of the desired circumstance, conditions, and situation (an understanding of how things should be);
- an active commitment to deal with the difference between the initial and desired status (not indifferent).
In the material world, you can change the status quo by simply swapping things around; in society, you cannot change things that way. In order to achieve change, reality factors must be changed while being careful not to harm those that need to be carefully treated and protected.
A problem cannot be solved by itself. Problems are solved by reducing (or at best eliminating) their causes, existence, expansion, and/or deepening, as well as by adding the necessary and strengthening the insufficiently strong elements.
It is necessary to identify, formulate, systematize, and publicize the reasons (causal [directly related] and functional [caused without anyone’s direct will], public and hidden, global and local – the entire system of connections and dependencies!) for the contradictions that have arisen in society and culture. Otherwise, the level of interpretation will be amateurish (unprofessional).
Already 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome, people understood that if one lacks the ability to identify and formulate the causes of vices, and the courage or ability to make those causes public, then there would be no prospect for liberation from vices.
According to the famous “3+5” rule in ancient Rome (see 13.4.). To achieve the necessary changes, at least the composition, structure, objectives, principles, and basis (criteria) of assessment should be changed. All of this is discussed in this book.
Problems can be classified according to their danger, range, degree of consistency, regularity, etc. The book emphasizes that the ability to identify and formulate a problem is a necessary precondition for independent activity.
FOUR IMPORTANT STARTING POINTS
There are four aspects to any matter, phenomenon, or process.
First, it is necessary to identify and articulate all the good things that need to be preserved and protected.
Second, identify and articulate what is bad. It is important to remember that shortcomings cannot be changed directly in society and in culture (in the intangible world). Measures can only be taken to affect the causes of the unsatisfactory circumstance (conditions, situation) and their connections, as well as to add missing and strengthen weak factors.
Third, it is necessary to identify what is missing (but should be present) and add it.
Fourth, determine what is undesirable and get rid of it.
THREE IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES FOR A CITIZEN
To understand people’s behavior, attitudes, communication, or treatment of one another, every citizen (regardless of field of expertise, level of regulation) should have knowledge about both the psyche and about life and the living environment (see Figure 0.3.5.).
Mental processes, states, and phenomena belong to the field of psychology; social psychology considers a person in the context of the microenvironment, and sociology considers a person in the macroenvironment. The value is the perception formed in the unity of these disciplines, not each of them separately. Moreover, in the absence of one of them, the other two will be of little help in practice.
0.4. ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
In this book, you can often find the words “mandatory,” “necessary,” and “cannot [prohibited, impossible].” One should not think that the author wants to command or forbid anything. There are no prescriptions here. On the contrary! We invite the reader to seek and discover, in addition to the general, individual, and specific; to find new points of view, to create models both in static and in dynamic; as well as to find concrete distinguishing features that can always be unique, and therefore unpredictable.
On the other hand, it should be recognized that since society in Estonia is (should be!) knowledge-based, it is the moral obligation of every resident to strive to become or remain a citizen, able to navigate and participate in the discussion and make decisions, and to understand that only in this way can they fundamentally share responsibility for what is happening in the state and in all state subsystems. Thus, in a certain sense, all the “mandatory” and “necessary” relate to civic duty.
One additional goal that the reader will hopefully notice soon was to emphasize the significance of language. Unfortunately, in Estonia, some concepts have been mixed to the point of uniformity, for example: data and information, connection and correlation, aim and goal, goal visualization and feedback, systemic and complex (comprehensive), decision making and accepting other people’s decisions for implementation, etc. It can be said that those who want (believe it is necessary) to behave like demanding citizens should ensure that the necessary concepts are correctly assimilated during discussions – this creates a single terminology and conceptual basis for further discussions for all participants. If the language is confusing, then it is impossible for the interlocutors to understand each other, and people are not able to act as citizens.
Misunderstandings are found at every turn in Estonia. If there is no research, then opinion is taken for knowledge, and research is considered useless. If connection is haphazard and the reliability of data is irrelevant, education also loses significance; education begins to be considered what is done to children and “given” to them in kindergarten and school. Weak intergenerational connection could cause a cultural divide.
What to do? Do you pretend that nothing terrible is happening, explain that in other places the circumstances are even worse, and continue in the same spirit? Do you realize that if the native language is so neglected that it is no longer included in the list of cultural languages, then the ability to be independent will disappear? Perhaps drastic measures should be taken to stop any attacks on language under different pretexts occurring in universities, institutions, and elsewhere.
Let’s think about why dialogue in Estonia has quieted down, and what each of us can do to make all residents return to a live quest.