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Freedom

Freedom fascinates me, always did

The feeling of freedom excites. What is freedom,? Absolute freedom does not exist. Many things are determined by birth, nature and circumstances. Nationality is often not a choice. Country of birth neither. Parents are not chosen, although some think they are.

Freedom and limitations

I was brought up by parents who live in the Calvinistic tradition. A topic in their thinking is the issue of predestination or free will. They believe all is predestined. I do not believe so. Van Peursen, in his Delft lectures on philosophy, introduced me the work of Bergson. In ”L’Evolution Creatrice”, he describes the dilemma between causualistic and finalistic development. I believe in liberalistic free will to a limited extend, like Einstein wrote in his “Weltbild”. Each person has the freedom to develop him or herself during her/his life. It is a choice in work, family and free development of chosen preferences based on talents, dreams, values.

Each choice limits freedom.

Marriage limits other relations. A Choice of job and studies, limits alternative career paths. Choice of religion is often based on the preferences of the family you are born in. Free preferences influence these choices considerably. Not realizing free preferences destroy vitality.

Stephen Covey describes three objectives in life. First make one’s own life satisfying. Than be happy within groups and ultimately with the role in society. It is a very practical guide. I is in line with a live path as described in Indian thinking: in the first part of you life you work on your own development, career. Then you devote yourself to create a family and in the third stage of your life you contribute to society

It is basically about personal responsibility for choices, and for their consequences.

Kindness, beauty, truth.

Einstein mentioned these as the three values for life.

He did not mention freedom, but wrote on it. Expressing opinions, theories and ideas should never be repressed for whatever reason. Each person follows its own course maintaining life with least possible labor and use of natural resources. All people satisfy their physical needs. Some develop their intellectual and artistic powers to promote knowledge of nature and social processes for the benefit of all. Freedom to communicate and tolerance to other opinions are the prerequisites for personal and societal development. Each person has spiritual freedom. In schooling we stimulate to express it. Probably the UK education is best in this respect. Expressing opinions on Government free from repression is a great gift of democracy. People are not equal at birth, but society has to give equal access to knowledge and education. Personal responsibility for your own behavior and for treating others as equal is a pillar for democracy Freedom to express opinions, in word and writing and freedom to chose your own path in life, within lawful limits, are in the core of freedom.

How do I experience living in China?

Kindness yes, with expectations of rewards. Beauty yes, but only from the traditional past. Truth does not existent.

In daily life freedom is enormous as long as one does not get caught. In traffic, in paying tax, in living, in business. More freedom than in the USA because the enforcement of law is very limited in China. The mindset is very free and behavior is based on survival and self-interest. As long as one does not challenge the Government and the one-party-system, almost anything is possible. In the longer run the Government need to open up to bottom-up influences with space for creativity and innovation. The only way to realize a sustainable society.

My choices in my life history

I took responsibility to help my handicapped sister, who is two years younger than I am. It was triggered when I took part on a Christian summer camp in Anglesey, UK. My parents beliefs and education prepared me to make this choice. None of my brothers or sisters made the translation from “love your neighbor” to action to a member of the family. This was my first free choice. I do not regret. This choice gave me a lot, although the decision was not based on “give back”.

My second choice was to connect to my Professor Gerritsma in Delft who I believe is the only trustful and inspiring professor in Naval Architecture. I acted as his assistant in my last year in Delft and benefitted enormously from his participating in his team. His Master thesis topic challenged me and led to my Ph.D. He pushed for by nominating me to scientific working communities. He became a second father.

My third choice was my marriage, But very much in line with the social environment of my parents, their religion, and my student life. After 15 years of happy marriage the stress of a family life overseas was unbearable and I decided to divorce after returning from the east. My fourth, almost most important decision: to leave my wife and family when I was 50.

My own Life

I went into the survival mode and developed my OWN life. In work and home. The last important choice was to marry Song in 2007 in China. Completely my own choice. Only checked with myself. No social pressure. On the contrary, against social pressure. Like the birth of our daughter Fanfan in 2011.

My life now is in line with the consequences of these decisions and choices. I take personal responsibility for all my choices, my three children with my first wife, my step daughter of my second wife, my godson related to the life with my second wife. The fight in my family made them split up in two groups. Leaving my elder brother Lex and me as close friends and mates.

I am happy with all the Shell friends gathered over 25 years working in Shell. I feel at home with them. To a lesser extend also with the Chinese people of DHV. Even with the Chinese people in Wison. A person in ThyssenKrupp who I advise on their China ambitions. My best fiend, Cees Hendrikse form my Wassenaar years, is still an intimate and kind relation, being familiar with Chinese art and life. My Delft best friend Jaap Zeeman, visited Song and me in China and get monthly in toutch, like my South Africa friend Joannes Lugt. Buying an apartment in Dordrecht at the most busy waterway in Europe, was my decision. The family of my daughter decorated it according to my own design. I feel 100% happy at that location with perfect neighbors, Spaans, who are our best friends in Dordrecht. Sixma, ex-Shell, was my boating partner and our relation developed into an intimate friendship just as the relation between my wife and his wife.

All my decisions having happy consequences.

Going to Orshof was triggered by my second wife and her daughter, and brought me much self confidence and vitality. Later joining Ton Voogt in his HR coaching work, is of mutual interest and always enlightening. Correspondence with my USA friend, Andy van Vleck, is filled with philosophical and political reflections on things happening in China in its relations with Europe and USA.

Music, reading and writing are now my beloved ways of expressing

They fit working from home. I live with my choices made in freedom. They limit my present day freedom to do what I like to do. I am happy with the limitations. I read three Dutch magazines to stay in touch with my home country and cast my vote. - - -

There are three projects to complete.

Bugnet Foundation transition to younger inspirational persons. I am the founder and the Chairman of the Board

The “green box” innovation of aircon on solar energy only.

To enable the development of my daughter FanFan with my wife as leading person.

Good health is a must, so I adjust my lifestyle accordingly.

This is my life as consequents of my own choices I made out of my feeling of freedom. I conclude and summarize that freedom in choices is possible but in practice very much limited by birth, social pressure and circumstances. It feels like “going with the flow” and enjoy it.

With my third marriage kindness, beauty and truth came into my life.

Frans van Gunsteren

11 mei 2014

The Orshof instituut
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