On Nationalism, Support groups and self respect

One friend post today, in Portuguese, in Facebook a note that he called "IMIGRA ou MIGRA?", asking if once once we get out of Portugal we forget about what it mean to be Portuguese. I’ll not link his note, because his profile is protected and the link would take most people nowhere. But I think the subject is important. So, here are my thoughts…

First of all, I don’t understand the need of being proud of belonging above being themselves. Most people aren’t proud of themselves, but they are still loudly proud of being part of some specific group – that group is for most people living outside of their country their nationality, as it is sometimes the sports club, the sexual orientation support group, … It’s usually something that make them different from everyone else, but similar to a sufficient number of people that make them recognizable, aknowledgable.

That kind of behaviour makes it simple to justify and validate their behaviour. Make it easier to explain why they join in the club and don’t go to the street barbeque. It make for simpler explanations for almost everything. But if people can be simple, persons never are. Even when part of group and with a lot of similarities with everyone on that groups, every single person is also very different from everyone else on that groups.

But groups are, mostly labels. They make easier to other to make you part of their group or part of the "others" group. For every single person, "Us" is usually the union of all the group that person belongs to. But there is no "US" that works for two single person, it doesn’t matter how you choose those two person. Even for two twin brothers "US" will include all the twins there’s a group that includes one of them and not the other (those who were born first).

I’m also part of groups. Some of them are obvious – I’m Portuguese, I’m a Perl Webdevel (that is a small subgroup of a bigger group – WebDevel – that is part of at least two different groups – Web workers, including designers, content managers, web editors and a lot of other people who work for web, and Computer Programmers). Do I identify with those groups? Yah, sure. By the core of the group. Do I identify with the people who belong to the group? Yah, sure, some.

But groups are not all created equal. In most cases Nationality is not a choice. It’s a core part of everyones personality. We can choose a lot of things in live, but where we are born is not one of those things. And it doesnt matter if we latter choose to change our nationality. We only have a birth, and the first years of our life have a very wide impact on our personality. They define which language we speak best, which types of food our taste most apreciate, which type of social interaction we get used to.

And most groups – sports club, nationality and religion on the top of this lists – come with filtering glasses, that exist in two types, the pro and the against. In the "Portuguese" group there are an aditional filter, the called Sebastianismo.

But, Am I proud of being Portuguese? Who in the earth would be proud of a country with the history Portugal have? Yes, we have a very unique history. Portugal is the country in Europe with their main land frontiers fixed for more time (and few in the world have older frontier than Portugal). Portugal had a very important contribute to the world see nagivation – as Empire, we followed the Roman – that we were the first to successfully fight. Spain, to find America, needed Portuguese Navigators (and it’s told, maps). We divide the world with Spain (our neighbor) while the rest of europe were still fishing in their own backyard. We’re a peaceful, charming, caring society. Yes, I love the Portuguese history. But I hate the Dom Sebastião Portuguese way of wait for the future.

The legend says that in 1578, in the Alcarcer-Quibir Battle (also known as the Three Kind Battle), Dom Sebastião, the then young king of Portugal, were able to survive the battle that Portugal lost, and that he would return to Portugal and that the old Portuguese power and prestige would be restaured. Well, that may had make sense at the time. But three spanish kings rulled in Portugal, and five hundred years (ok, four and a half hundred) are gone now. the prodig king will not return! It’s time to look around and find the big stone that need to be moved and start moving them.

Yes, Portugal have fantastic weather, fantastic food, fantastic people, fantastic views. But it also have severe problems in Education, a gigantic trust issue with the political class, a lot of opaque business stratigies, an awful resource distribution, strange work laws and pratices – over protective law and under protective pratice.

But to me, live is not in fault. I’ve had good and bad things and growed with both. A lot more with the later ones. I lived in Portugal for more than 30 years. I studied there, I have several jobs there and I was given the oportunity to grow there. And it come a time when I had a choice between continue in Portugal and come to Amsterdam. I made a choice, and I’m living with it. I choosed the one that I believed at the time that would give me more changes to provide a better life for myself and my family. I still believe that I made the correct option.

But it’sn’t not because I’m live aboard that I stopped calling my mother frequently (in Portuguese, obviously) and my family. even if I changed the idiom of my blog (and even most posts on my twitter and facebook).

Most of all, I respect myself. The groups I’m part of are also part of me. And I keep asking myself how do those groups change me and how can I change those groups! So, how can we change what means to be Portuguese?

Daily live – Gratefulness

I walk slowly from home to the work in the morning, and do the same path in the oposite direction most days. Somedays my steps take a detour from this usual path, getting me to the coffee across the street from the office and I stay there for a couple hours after work, other days I walk to the supermarket or to some other place that the pratical things of the daily live don’t allow me to avoid.

I usually walk slowly. And I usually like to see what is around me – the places, the plants, the things, but the people most of all. Amsterdam is a city specially good to look around. Not only the city is very beautiful – I think, at least – as it is always full of tourists and non-native people, looking around for places. And even those who are here for longer – or native – are very interesting to observe.

For me, it’s mostly about the differences, specially the differences on simple, usual settings. For instance, the way people sit on a coffee terrace… Usually, in Portugal, people sits in oposite sides of the table, facing each other – In Amsterdam, on the other hand, you mostly see people sitted side-by-side facing the place where more people walk by.

It’s even fun to see how people look at maps all the time, and the corner of building, looking for street names, always trying to find out here they are, which path they should use to get somewhere.

And even fall. This is the first time for me where I really see leaves falling.

I don’t have everything I would like to have, and I don’t have everything most people would want. There are things in my live that are not as I would like to be, there are some that I don’t know how I want them to progress. It’s, I think, a consequency of the fact that no man is an island. I think that includes me.

But, most of all, I usually remind myself that live is still my lover, that live keeps providing me with what I really need. And that is my most profund wish – to have the opportunity to do a job I like, have the things I really need, and keep doing some of the things I really love to do.

And, for all that I’m grateful.

Blogs, Blogs and still more blogs

I have a lot of blogs. And I’m really lazy.

And when the task I’m doing is migrate blogs from one platform to another, I start asking myself…

  • Should I migrate them all?
  • Should I kill some of them?
  • Should I keep them in the current platform until I have time to migrate them? In this case I still need to migrate them from the current servers to the new one.
  • Which ones do I keep, which ones should I kill?

Well, three of them (four if Catarina’s blog counts) are already on the new server, using WordPress. It’s not completly fair, because in this one and Catarina’s we just started from post zero. And the InfoDump only have a small part of the content of the previous version.

The fourth is already being migrated – I’m coping the content to the new version, but it’s a lot of content – 45 pages of 13 posts…

Well, tomorrow is another day. For now it’s time to sleep!

Random things about me

Tonight, while listening to Rui Veloso – Do meu vagar some random things about me come to mind:

  • I love Portuguese music,  Rui Veloso, Luis Represas, Mafalda Veiga and Xutos & Pontapés above them all.
  • I love to read and like to write.
  • I have to much blogs.
  • I live now in Amsterdam, but I’m Portuguese.
  • I’m almost always eating.
  • I’m my best friend.
  • I like to spend time alone and never get bored only by myself. That is specially true if I have internet access.
  • My two favorite writers are Robert Heinlein and Paulo Coelho.
  • I believe in a very special concept of magic(k) and reading Brida (from Paulo Coelho, the first book from him I did read) was the first time I thought about the subject.
  • I believe in Polyamory and the first time I got in contact with the subject was while reading Friday by Heinlein (no, not Strange man from a strange land – I did read Friday first, and only later Strange man from a strange land).
  • My favorite book so far is not from one of those authors. It’s “A Lua de Joana”, a portuguese book for teenagers, that is intended as a diary of an adolescent girl (Joana) who get into drugs and dies of overdose. It’s an intense book, that I recommend to any Portuguese reader – I don’t think the book was ever published in any other language.
  • I only go to cinema to see “Entertainment movies”. Cinema, for me, it’s time to turn the brain off and relax. Don’t make me think.
  • My favorite TV Show type is SciFi Series. I love StarTrek, as much as it is possible to love it without being a trekkie. I don’t like the original series, but I like Picard a lot and love Voyager, my favorite one. I like Entreprise (the serie about the first Entrepise Star Ship, but don’t like the last episode at all).

Rita Lee – Amor e Sexo – Love and Sex

The lyrics, in english would say:

Reload, using WordPress

For too long I used my own blog engine, that is still available, and that I still use in some of my blogs. But that will be a thing of the past soon. Very soon I would like to say. Unfortunately, migrate all the blogs I have, including porting the content to the new versions take time. A lot more time than I would like to spend on this task.

It was fun having my own blog engine, specially because I started mine before a lot of the engines that exist today were started. I started the project because I didn’t liked what was available at the time, and because I wanted to learn quicker how to do things.

It was useful. But, specially because today there are a lot of blog engines that are very powerful, supported and used, it doesn’t make sense anymore to keep using it. I think that WordPress is today the blog engine with the bigger user base and with more templates and plugins available. I used it in the past on projects for clients and those are the reason I will be using WordPress from now on, instead of any other solution existent.

I’m not yet sure if I will migrate any of the content on the old version of this blog, time will tell.

For now, this is the reload of theMage – yes, in English from now on.