Archives for category: Peace

If we stop and take a look at ourselves it is not a pretty sight. We are in the midst of an unprecedented knowledge boom yet our world does not reflect this. Few parts of it have peace and real freedom yet we know that war only provides horror and intense suffering and sorrow and solves nothing. In the end the result only comes through peace talks. In a world in which we used the knowledge we have those talks would be at the beginning, not the end.

In countries not at war there is still unnecessary suffering and deprivation. We still haven’t learned to share and accept that having too much doesn’t bring happiness. Having too little inevitably brings misery and hardship. Over Xmas our Australian Prime Minister was photographed helping to serve lunch to some of our impoverished citizens. They already had too many helpers so that it’s only purpose was to rub in the fact that his many tax-deductible properties were keeping poor people in that situation. But that’s another story.

If we go back to the world scene, what should we do? Firstly I assume that there is no question that democracy is better than dictatorship. Free and fair elections for all should be the free and accepted norm for every country in the future. Secondly we need to ensure that every citizen has the opportunity to succeed according to their abilities, including physical ones. Thirdly, the leaders we choose should have these goals, not self fulfilment, self-gratification and enrichment which tend to be their current goals.

So where do we start? New knowledge seems to be the catalyst which is triggering the desire for a better world, and in particular the necessity for those in leadership roles and others to keep their knowledge updated. This would lead to better informed decision making. We can no longer expect one person to have the necessary qualifications to lead a country. We should look to electing a leadership team with a wide variety of skills and up-to-date knowledge. The days when someone with out dated knowledge of law can be treasurer, for example, should be long gone.

We need to move to an election criteria in which my final suggestion would be the first. We can no longer have a situation in which those who stand for election tell us, and partially listen to us, at election time then forget about us. We need to elect representatives who will represent us, not just themselves or their parties. We need to elect people who will represent us and have a well-established mechanism for doing so, with frequent opportunities to listen to their electorate, not just tell us after the event.

If our leaders are not prepared to keep up to date with their knowledge then they have no part in the 21st century world. Leaders who help to serve lunch to our poorest at Xmas need to be replaced by leaders who sit down and listen to all citizens so that they are aware of their needs, aspirations and ideas, including the poor. This is 21st century leadership. It needs to be a team with up-to-date appropriate knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a time of instant communication across the world, and other technological progress, isn’t it time we moved beyond making resolutions which affect the next year to awakening awareness of the knowledge we now have and applying it to a much longer time period. We can’t be proud of the world we currently live in, nor can we want to pass on the current mess to those who come after us, hopefully down the centuries ahead if our planet survives in a habitable form.

Out world is currently in a mess. Look at the many wars currently waging across our world, most, if not all, with no signs of resolution. Look at the unequal distribution of wealth, not always based on distribution of currently needed resources. Even within countries many, if not all, show this unequal distribution. Few seem to accept that those born in positive situations are always the most talented and gifted. Any country which has poverty and lack of opportunities for any of its citizens, which again covers most, if not all, are missing out on those citizen’s talent and ability, which no country can afford to do. Why does this happen? Because those who get to the top tend to be addicts of money or power or both. They tend to think of enhancing their own lives instead of the world we are wrecking.

Where do we start to clean up this mess? Firstly this means educating everyone, and providing for their needs, regardless of their status, power or current knowledge. We need to recognise that everyone has something to offer to help save our future. Then we need to find some way of allowing all talents and knowledge to be utilised. This can only be achieved through a democracy. The trouble is that few, if any, countries have really achieved this. The USA, one of the most influential, has just elected a President the majority of its citizens did not vote for. This suggests that we still haven’t invented a true democracy.

I believe that this is the invention we haven’t yet discovered and is the one we desperately need. Even when we discover it we will need to disempower those who want personal wealth, power and influence from their current monopoly of nation, and hence world, leadership. There have been a few, sometimes unofficial, leaders in the past who have achieved it, people we remember often for decades after their death, but these are rare and often outside official roles. Names such as Gandhi and Mandela come to mind. It is leaders such as these, who are largely urging equality and opportunity for all, we should be enabling to be leaders.

Our New Technology Century resolution should be to fight for democracy and equality and a world in which we all unite to preserve our planet for those coming after us. This would be a far greater legacy to leave than merely the Technology Revolution which often contributes to our current possible destruction of our environment and annihilation as a species. Weapons which cause massive destruction, harm and suffering are not a good legacy for us to leave for those who follow us.

Not Happy New Year but Happy (rest of the) New Technology Century should be our wish and ambition.

 

It is fairly easy to measure progress in technological terms, although how we appropriately or otherwise apply it is less so, but trying to do the same the same with moral progress is a very different story.

If we look back on our history, from mankind starting out from one specific area and spreading to inhabit almost the whole world, we have made enormous progress. Things we regard as fairly trivial today, such as early man learning how to swim and subsequently including fish in the diet, and the influence of this on the development of our brains, were huge steps forward at the time. Can we say the same about our moral development?

What sort of people are we electing as our leaders to take our own particular patch of the world forward? The westernised world has moved on from leaders who led by the example of brute force but what have we replaced it with? Whoever wins the U.S. election will be someone who has reached their present position through being rich, not by their ability except through being able to take money off other people (i.e.getting rich). Neither of them seem to feel that the unnecessary and debilitating wealth imbalance is anything that should concern them.

In other countries there seems to be a reliance on the ability of one side or another to acquire more weapons, and more powerful weapons, than the other side. Acquiring manpower for those weapons is achieved through fear or loyalty. Last night I watched a documentary on the war in Afghanistan by a western reporter embedded with the government army. What a dreadfully derelict country that is, and it would be difficult to make it prosperous for all its citizens even without a war.

Our moral progress is woefully behind our technological progress in most, if not all, the world. How can we move over to work together and make sure every human being has the opportunity to lead a happy life, with at least all our basic needs satisfied and with hope of rising above that level. The current situation in which our behaviour is threatening the very existence of life support on earth is bringing some of us together, although there are some inadequately educated people who are opposing even this idea, making it more difficult to address universally.

If only we could form a united world in which people put down their weapons and gave away their wealth to work towards mankind’s survival. After all, our primitive ancestors managed to achieve this.

 

 

Earlier this week Playschool, an Australian children’s TV programme, celebrated 50 years of providing entertainment and learning to Australia’s youngest people. The programme has been, and hopefully always will be, under the guidance of experts in early education. A brilliant idea that children should have the best right from the beginning. If you mention the word ‘Playschool’ to millions of Australians the opening tune pops up in their heads. Not only did the program teach that it’s OK to be different but included such differences through the presenters themselves and the participating children. Music, dancing and singing, which I believe are essential to all human beings, were, and are, a major part of each episode. To those Australians trying to deny their connections to this programme I only have to mention Big Ted and Jemima to bring back memories.

On the actual birthday ABC TV aired their Q and A programme featuring the leader of a political party based on highlighting political and religious differences, and fostering a lack of understanding between them, a group which has recently re-entered our parliament. France has just suffered yet another mass murder based once again on religious differences. And in the US a money addict has been anointed head of one of their major parties and will stand for President later in the year. Not a happy and prosperous world.

If only all these people had started their early lives, and education, by learning that people are different and that these differences should be respected. We all have the right to live together working towards a common good. We all have the right to be different and pull together, through understanding each other, to create a prosperous and safe world for us all. These were the messages that Playschool taught millions of young Australians through love and understanding. I wonder if that is why we live in such a relatively peaceful country today? Thanks Playschool for what you have done for us individually, for our families and for what you contributed to Australia for over 50 years.

 

 

 

 

 

This week, for the second week in a row, I have visited a small country town in Australia. This time it was Dubbo, a small inland town with about 36622 residents and a catchment area of 130000. It is a farming community although currently they are in the midst of a prolonged drought. The drive there makes you aware of why it is currently called a dust bowl- the landscape has a cloud of dust above it.

At one point I was trying to find the local shopping centre and asked directions of a lady who turned out to be a leading light in the town. She was going to the same place and we chatted as we walked there. Before we parted company she gave me an 8 page pamphlet, published by the local people, of all the events in town they were organising. There were about 30 listed, from gardening groups to writers, musicians, a historical society, arts and crafts, theatre, dining, to cooperation with the Sydney Opera House. What a vibrant community.

This made me realise how important local communities are and that this is the major problem with our cities. I am not sure what city planners are concerned with, I can only assume it is with roads and transport and housing siting and other non-human items. This lack of acknowledgement of the human needs of city dwellers is what makes them the disastrous places they usually are, particularly for older people.

My suggestion is that we design cities, and renovate them, in terms of smaller designated areas round a central hub, probably with local shops and some form of meeting place. It would be an area which allowed, and encouraged, all the activities currently Dubbo makes available to its citizens. It would be designed around humans, not merely convenient areas for the provision of water, electricity and other local governance responsibilities. If we put people first we will have much healthier and happier communities.

This is not a dream world idea although it will be difficult to implement initially, simply because it has always been a neglected area of city life and planning. When cities first developed they were created in the interests of the manufacturers who needed a large supply of workers for their factories. Workers were merely commodities. We have now evolved to the stage where workers are recognised as people who will work better and more creatively if they are treated properly. They will also be healthier and happier. We have centuries of catching up to do in our cities.

My final morning in Dubbo was surrounded by a cloud of female motorcyclists (and their partners). They were meeting at the local showground. If they could get 900 of them together it would be a world record. Apparently they held it 2 years ago but the Brits took it off them! What struck me was what a happy group they were, pleased to be together joining up with other bikies from across Australia. Needless to say this good news event didn’t hit the national news. After all, they were regarded merely females and bikies, not young women harmlessly enjoying themselves, passing on their pleasure and enjoyment of life to others.

 

The other day I listened to an interview with a scholar who has recognised the importance of this attribute in the world and at all levels of society. It was not something which had been brought to my attention before but the more I thought about it the more I realised that this may be the missing link in modern societies. The more we crowd together in cities the more it seems to become a survival of the fittest. We come to know fewer people around us and the rest are regarded as strangers about whom  we know little, if anything.

During the interview mention was made of an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia, on the topic. The exhibition was apparently made up of people who are more disadvantaged than the rest of us and who had recorded their stories and left a pair of their shoes. Visitors to the exhibition were asked to stand in a pair of these shoes and listen to the person’s story. This physical contact was very important and those who visited it came away saying that it had been a very emotional experience and had changed them. They had experienced life through the eyes (and feet) of somewhat more disadvantaged than themselves. It was based on the old suggestion that we walk a mile in the shoes of someone less privileged than ourselves to better understand them.

It is many decades since the last world scale war and the cessation of these could be a measure of our progress towards a more peaceful planet, but there are so many wars going on at any one time, creating millions of refugees and injured people, as well as those who lose their lives, are we really making progress? Does the problem lie with the sort of people we choose as , or who are able to become, our leaders, whether we have a western style democracy or a dictatorship? We don’t realise, or we fail to admit, the extent to which empathy should be part of any such selection process.

During the interview I was listening to, the comment was made that rich people tend to have a lower level of empathy than the rest of us, which fits in with the definition of them as money addicts. Certainly in Australia we would have a very different type of person in our Parliaments if the degree of empathy of potential candidates was able to be measured and was taken into account in the selection criteria. This would also seem to apply in the USA in the current Presidential election process.

Is the study of empathy, and ways of measuring it, our key to a more successful and prosperous (for all) planet? What a breakthrough that would be. No more competition to build the biggest and most effective weapons with their power to kill and maim the greatest number of people as a measure of a country’s success.

I hope that the exhibition mentioned above will be able to move to many more places and many more countries so that it can be experienced across the world and take on the importance it seems to deserve. Maybe the missing link in our search for a better world is the lack of recognition of the importance of empathy as a human trait.