Archives for posts with tag: current-events

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.

 

As we speed towards 2017, which will mean that we are well ensconced in the 21st century, we still face a great deal of uncertainty and still have no concept of ourselves as guardians of this planet. Technology has helped in that people across the world, either close by or on the opposite side, can usually contact each other within seconds, but we still behave as individuals, with little concept of our joint role as preservers of humanity itself. In fact most people still think in terms of their own patch of land, be it the building they live in, the town/city and the country  their lives are clustered around, with minimum global concept beyond those limits.

The problems the world (this planet we have named earth) seems to have has little or no place in our, or our leaders, lives. Our thoughts seem to be focussed around our own little patch, a relic of mankind’s history, with no attempt to look beyond this. I once taught in a private girls school, which was favoured by at least one prime minister for the education of his daughter. One of the staff reckoned the school motto should be ‘Me’ because that seemed to be the students’ focus! That could easily apply to so many people in today’s world, including leaders.

We are all familiar with the industrial revolution and how it changed the lives of so many people. I suspect that this century will be recognised for the knowledge revolution which is likely to change the lives of far more people across the globe, both for better or worse. The latter effect will be entirely our responsibility as holders of this knowledge and responsible for how we use it.

There seems to be an acceptance of democracy as the most acceptable way of ruling, with greater personal freedom not only in choice of lifestyle but in expression of ideas and knowledge. It is not yet an idea anyone has perfected, with most countries having an unacceptable level of poverty and homelessness. Public demonstrations against the ruling party is a healthy part of this, unless they go on for too long (an indication that the people are not being listened to) or if violence is involved suggesting another agenda.

We enter the new year with one major player in world affairs having a leader who constantly  changes his mind and another who faces huge poverty levels (they don’t publish the figures) with an additional 6 million of his people facing job losses in major industries. Meanwhile his government is building weapons structures which threaten major trade routes. Hardly a positive picture.

Meanwhile, on a lesser scale, countries such as Australia have their own struggle with the knowledge boom. The Prime Minister has publicly denounced the advice of the chief scientist on climate change, an essential part of the world’s survival. Neither the Prime Minister, or his senior cabinet, seem to have any expertise in this area. In fields where they do have knowledge it was obtained in the last century and is largely out of date, but unrecognised as such. This is why it is so important to employ qualified advisors and take their advice.

We need to change our approach to governance, and sharing our planet, if we are to survive.

 

The Australian Parliament has just risen for the long summer holiday (not an expression they use!). It tends to lead us to a point where we look backwards and forwards, not only in Australia but in terms of the situation worldwide.

I think that all those who live in a so-called democracy would feel that it is the best form of governance over a large number of people, either individual groups of people from one parcel of land calling itself a nation, or groups of nations together calling themselves another name such as the European Union, with a looser alliance. The latter may or may not be a long-term stable relationship as we are seeing through Brexit. The other alternative is a binding together under a harsher regime such as a dictatorship.

Those of us who live under a loosely termed democracy feel we have the better deal but I suspect that we are being conned to a greater or lesser extent. My impression is that quite a lot of people in Britain feel that Brexit was a wrong decision, even though the population appeared to vote for it. By this I mean people voted according to the information they were given, largely as reported in the press. So did the press have an unrecognised power?

The recent American election also had its faults given that the candidate most voters wanted is not the one they have. This has created a quite disturbing situation given that this new powerful man in the world often makes conflicting statements so no-one really knows what he thinks, or, more importantly, what he will do.

The Australian parliament is nowhere near as important as this but what we see is the damage that can be done in a country which claims to be democratic and is only marginally in conflict with some of its neighbours. Two areas of governance in the last week have particularly troubled me. Any boss who requires their workers to work until midnight day after day would be regarded as a law-breaker since there is a huge danger in making unfair and unreliable laws in that state of tiredness. Not only that, unacceptable deals were done on the basis of ‘I’ll vote for your legislation if you vote for mine’ for legislation they wouldn’t otherwise have voted for. This is not democracy in which elected members are supposed to represent their constituencies and vote according to the latter’s wishes. An even more blatant violation of this is when members are given ‘a conscience vote’ on issues. Their conscience, or beliefs, have nothing to do with what they were elected for. Meanwhile whilst this horse trading is going on, large groups in the population have their needs unmet. Those who don’t fit into the accepted male/female categories, the poor and the needy, in other words the majority of the population, have their needs unmet and live as second class citizens. We call this democracy. I don’t think it is full democracy.

I suspect what we really need in the months ahead is for the citizens of the world to get together and define what real democracy is and insist that our elected leaders follow this new role for themselves. I don’t think it will even happen in my lifetime unfortunately.

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.

 

 

So many changes are happening in the world that affects me, yet change can lead in different directions, not always based on the common good.

We’ve just had elections here in Australia which could take us either way, either to improve we way we live or worsen it. The British have had an even more traumatic vote on whether to leave the European Union or not and in the background the Americans are preparing to elect a new President. These are all happening in particularly prominent countries, whereas most of what is happening in the rest of the world tends to fit into the ‘more of the same’ basket, with decisions largely only affecting those living in that country.

The Australian election is important to me as it obviously affects me but whether we are affected locally or internationally, we are still dependant on a relatively small handful of people for decision-making guidance. The British vote was a frightening example of this. Two men with parallel backgrounds coming through the cream of the British education system came to opposite positions on whether to stay in the European Union or not.

How could this happen?  Surely with all the access they had to knowledge and information they should have come to similar conclusions, whether staying or exiting would be better for the countries involved, particularly given that their education and training should have enabled the leaders of the two sides to sort the available knowledge accurately and intelligently? Given that the decision taken will have a huge impact on the people involved it places the population in a very vulnerable position.

Other decision-making situations could have equally devastating results, particularly the US elections. Decisions taken there tend to affect far more than merely the people under that jurisdiction.

The general population needs more information and guidance and we need it from intelligent, well-educated people who are not driven by their own particular dreams and aspirations.

Change is inevitable as the world in its entirety changes. How we manage that change depends on the information given to us about particular situations and who gives it to us in terms of their own particular aspirations.

Is the problem the fact that our access to knowledge is changing and we are not yet trained to know how to deal with it? Meanwhile what are our decisions based on, and what should they be based on, particularly in the collective field of voting?

I’ve been arguing for some time that an ageing population is not a problem but a bonus. It is only regarded as a problem because societies in most country’s insist on regarding it as such and hence it becomes self-fulfilling.

Why should extended life for the oldest members of society, the ones with the most knowledge, experience and wisdom be a problem? We are the group with the most knowledge of the history and development of our different countries and societies from the consumer and resident’s point of view. Between us we have a tremendous amount of desirable attributes which therefore makes us valuable. Our knowledge of the past, for example, where we have come from, helps to put today’s knowledge and lifestyle into perspective and creates a trajectory into the future.

The only reason that our existence is described as a problem is because the rest of society has decided it will be labelled as such. Sure our bodies tend to deteriorate physically but there are plenty of ways that this can be compensated for with medications and physical supports. For most of us our bodies can cope quite well with our requirements, although more slowly, but then what’s the hurry? People push past us in the street and on public transport but often either it doesn’t save them any time, or if it does it is too miniscule to be useful. Dare I suggest that those doing the pushing don’t have the experience or knowledge to put such behaviour into perspective!

If we look at older people’s other capabilities instead of our physical limitations we are a tremendous source of riches.

Can you imagine living in a country in which older people were regarded as a source of knowledge, wisdom and experience upon which todays’ society is built and, more importantly, which will help to drive the future in an acceptable and desirable way? Have a look at the big mistakes of the past. Did these occur because of the lack of wisdom of older people or the headlong decisions of younger members of communities? Would we have had two horrific world wars if the antagonists had been older people with their knowledge gained over time? The same question could be asked about the endless battles which seem to be constantly happening in different parts of the world. The current horrific racial war which is threatening so many parts of the world is the result of headstrong youth rather than the wisdom of older people. Yet the people who pay the price for it are of all ages, but particularly the older people.

Can we older people ever take our rightful place in the world until younger people realise that we have so much to offer that they lack? We are not a burden but can be seen as a huge asset if younger people will take a good, hard look at the society in which we live together. This can’t be achieved until younger people are willing to do this. Meanwhile they are creating huge and unnecessary burdens for themselves and their societies.

As older people I think we are more aware of time and the changes that it brings with it. When I was a child newspapers were well established, including the advertising of specials. I remember my father saying that he could find out what he would be eating the following week from the specials advertised in the local newspaper!
Television was to take off a bit later, when I was in my teens. Modern communication, such as through computers and iPhones were nowhere in sight, except as a twinkle in the eye of a future inventor.
I don’t know if this is why younger people really take up the latest development in this field more easily than older people who just see them as the latest in the long line of development of communication methods. One of the reasons why terrorist groups use them so easily, and recognise their potential is probably because they can see the advantages, and different possibilities in using them, to further their cause. Unfortunately these people are on the dark side of humanity and their acceptance of, and ability to see the possibilities in the use of modern communication devices really helps to spread their message. To me this is a lost opportunity for people on the more humane side.
I was reminded of this with the story of the ordinary man, I can’t remember which country he was from but it wouldn’t have made any difference as he could have been from anywhere, who sent out a message about putting his cricket bat out in front of his gate to help his grief over the loss of the young Australian cricketer. He was just an ordinary man with an ordinary, but special, message. Within a very short space of time it had spread across the world and people from so many countries, particularly the cricket-loving ones, were fishing out their cricket bats and putting them out in front of their gates. It spread from Kirribilli House in Sydney to cricket fans in the UK and so many more places.
It was really heart warming to realise that this relatively new technology can spread so quickly, and probably more efficiently, the more humane messages as well as those of hatred and violence. This is what we should be learning to do instead of leaving it to the darker side of our humanity to see, and use, the possibilities of the latest gadget. Phillip Hughes did not die in vain.

As a protest marcher from way back (being older I rarely participate these days!) I couldn’t help looking at the recent climate change marches objectively. The good thing about such events is at least it wakens others to the realisation that there is a problem that they should think about. I’m sure that most of the world is currently aware of the problems the residents of Hong Kong are undergoing. If China was more conscious of, and cared about, world public opinion it would be more effective than it apparently is at present. Thanks to modern communication no country can entirely silence its people these days. The effectiveness of protests internally depends on whether a country cares about how the rest of the world sees it.
Back to the climate change marches. The problem with this topic is that it is a very complex one with many other issues tied in with it. If we care about the climate shouldn’t we also care about the way we treat the planet we live on, not just the atmosphere around it? It really worries me that we are using the limited resources the world has without even a second thought. When I grew up after the second world war everything was scarce so we had to recycle everything we could. This involved repairing, not just discarding.
I was reminded of this recently when a male relative asked me if I would darn his socks. Even I was a bit rusty with this process! It led me to contemplate how little we recycle anything but fundamentals these days. We just accept, for example, that electrical goods aren’t built to past standards and have a limited life after which they are discarded. Yet so many of the limited resources used in them are ever really considered. We add to the problem by wanting the newest of every gadget and just discarding the old one.
As I watched the climate change marchers I wondered if preserving the world’s finite resources was ever a consideration to them.
All this occurred about the time my electricity account arrived. The solar panels on my roof insured that I had a credit even though it applied to the coldest part of the year.
People who march do a good job but it would be even better if they thought through the whole issue. Climate change is only part of the threat to the planet we live on.

There were times when older people were regarded as ‘elders’ and treated with respect. In most Westernised countries this tends to be no longer the case for what seems to be two major inter-connected reasons. Firstly we are living longer so that being old is no longer clearly defined and secondly this means that there are more of us who could be regarded as old. There are other differences. In the past people were looked up to as ‘elders’ because of their knowledge and wisdom, both of which came from their experience of being a comparatively long time on earth. Today things are different for many because ease of travel has expanded our knowledge of the world well outside our immediate neighbourhood and secondly knowledge through learning from textbooks and educational institutions has greatly increased our knowledge and improved access to it. We have more and more older people many of whom have greater knowledge and wisdom through both experience and formal learning. Since the title of ‘elders’ is no longer applied to us does that remove the obligations which went with this role? Worse still, are we deliberately abandoning this role, putting it in the too hard basket?
These thoughts have been inspired by the current situation with young people and alcohol. Should we take on the role of elders and accept our responsibility to use all our experience to view the situation objectively and try to create a better world for those who come after us?
There is concern about the current amount of alcohol based violence, a problem for both victims of abuse as well as the abusers. There should also be concern about the body damage which drinking can inflict, particularly the presently popular binge drinking. Will those who come after us be able to cope with the law and order problems, the disabilities being created, as well as organ damage today’s young people are creating, all of which are high cost problems.
Remember that today’s older people have taken the country from the ‘6 o’clock swill’ to today’s nearly open slather on drinking venue opening time? Is this progress or regression? Should those of us who remember the days where alcohol ruined lives were less common than they are today (and which will be even more of a problem tomorrow) speak out about the way our country is heading, particularly for our young people?
Currently our police often have to put their lives at risk from alcohol induced thuggery and staff in our emergency hospital wards are being sickened by what they see and have to treat. If for no other reason shouldn’t we speak out and push for less freedom to save these professionals who work on our behalf, as well as the young people who we sit back and let ruin themselves, their careers and lives, and those of their innocent victims?
Aren’t we making sure that the proud title of ‘elders’ is no longer ours through our silence? Are we abandoning our knowledge and wisdom for no apparent reason? After all, most of us do still care.

Just a reminder to those of you over 65 that I am asking people in this age group to let me know their views on the positives and negatives of ageing so I can have a selection of voices in my book on ageing on this topic, rather than just my experiences! They are starting to trickle in but the more I get the better the chapter will be and people who are not in our age group will understand us better. Please send your ideas to YourStory@over65.net so that they will reach me. It will be anonymous so feel free to be candid about both positives and negatives.
Apparently this week new laws have been enacted in Australia to counteract another aspect of sexism. They are very much needed, we only have to look at the figures on the number of women on company boards to realise that women are still regarded as second class citizens. I mention it here because the chances are that whenever anti-sexist laws are strengthened similar laws protecting coloured people (racism) should be looked as well and of course ageist behaviour. All three ‘isms’ have a lot in common and when we strengthen one we should automatically look to see if the problem being addressed applies to the other two. Otherwise changes take forever to filter through. The anti-sexist behaviour battle has been fought for well over 100 years and is still not entirely won. I’d hate to think both anti-racism and anti-ageism wars were still being fought decades ahead. I’d like to think that older people in the not too distant future will be treated the same as other citizens and our knowledge, talents and wisdom recognised so that we can lead an enjoyable life as equals in the community.
I’m always amused when dealing with younger strangers who see my wrinkles and decide how they are going to treat me. Some of them ignore the wrinkles and treat me as a normal person while others decide that since I am old I must be incompetent and treat me accordingly! I have an inner giggle as the chances are that I am far more qualified than them, poor things! I think that that is probably reverse ageism! Why not.
Audrey