Sunday, June 11, 2017

Broken trust and peace

Do you recall this person – Mohammed Bouazizi? He was a 26 year old vendor that literally sparked what is known as the Arab Spring. Of course there are many theories of why he lit himself on fire. However the complete frustration, loss of hope, poverty, oppression and injustice he felt is very important for each of us to battle as well. It is imperative to understand then conquer the personal mental battle first and always act peacefully socially with everyone else. What is ironic is that a root ideology of Al Qaeda was to end oppression. That ideology morphed into groups such as Al Shabaab (youth movement) and Daesh. The level of violence and absolute disregard for any flexibility of thought has put a strangle hold on the world. Again, the irony is that those groups are acting out due to a deep frustration that something is broken. Now we are dealing with people spreading fear and panic anywhere they can to ease a personal battle of frustration. It is these acts of violence seeking to draw even in the tally of pain which set larger ripples of hate and distrust in motion. It is the ripple effect of distrust which fuels further hate, then eventually can and does lead to violence. In simplistic ideology that is the formula of understanding groups such as Daesh. As you put your head in your hands and seek some sort of sanity within all of this we have other shots to the public trust. How in the name of all that is peaceful do you keep calm when corporation sell us on trust. Then, those corporation take actions that destroy trust. These actions spread into the distrust of government and filters down to distrust of each individual. On the corporate side of understanding actions which destroy trust are explained in two words – greed and influence. With groups like Daesh, the world responds out of necessity. For many nations, military action was not a choice to drop bombs or shoot people. However, we have a responsibility to protect. With that it is understood that each person shot or area bombed we are destroying the person who fires the bullet or drops the bombs as well. This is the circle of hell we must live with when killing others is needed. It can not be put anymore clear that the small acts of kindness are the equivalent of bullets. Community gatherings of celebration are like the bombs of war. These are the acts which will ultimately defeat groups such as Daesh. Such community building initiatives are the front lines in securing peaceful societies. Apparently we need more of these acts as individuals are spreading hate such as we have seen in London England. Each of us feels the frustrations of those who act violently and those corporations that are destroying public trust. It is truly hurtful to have to act on those who willfully break the public peace. It is not a choice but a responsibility to act in order to restore peace. That begins within each of us to act peacefully with our own minds. To quell the hate in our own minds first and then branch out is the individual battle of peace. When you lash out in frustration, the war has been lost already.

Friday, May 19, 2017

France looks past the hatred.

There was a time, not long ago, when the world was speaking out against multicultural societies. The popular thought was that multiculturalism was a failed policy. Then comes the vote of the United Kingdom to exit the European Union, Donald Trump gets elected in the RUSA and France looks at voting for similar protectionist ideology. Last night France voted for a multicultural ideology. France voted for a reality that reflects the truth of the world. The world is multicultural. The world is open and free movement across the globe is a right of every individual. Of course an open society will open the world to more experiences that may not be wanted. The best method to ensure a safe society is to build and maintain strong communities. This responsibility rests with the individual to take up. Governments are a macro level entity and violence starts within the minds of the individual. That is why an open ideology needs to be supported by individuals as well as governments. For example, we can look at Daesh and their play book management of savagery (the book is easily found on the internet). It is an example of how individuals can impact global security from within communities for either good or evil. The same playbook can be used for good, the difference will be a peaceful mindset for the immediate result. As we look at the reasons for the protectionist versus the open society there are valid points for either side. In other terms we have hawks versus doves, hard power versus soft power, peace versus war and other axioms. The reason violence seems to be the more effective choice is due to the immediate impact/response and drama of tragedy. A peace strategy is very much like a person growing up, one day you are 5 years old and then almost dream like you are 34. You wonder where the years went. It all seems effortless yet we forget the daily attention that must be paid to ensure we live a peaceful life. The daily efforts that are small must be made and are unnoticed by the larger community is the path to peace. War, violence, hatred and evil on the other hand are large and can be launched in a single moment to impact many years into the future. Due to that, it is easy to understand why a protectionist attitude is prevalent. As the people of France stood up, the rest of the world needs to thank the people of France for standing up for an open society in the face of what they have endured. That is true courage and a steadfast belief in the reality of the world – multiculturalism, peace and openess.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Syrian end to violence

During the years 2010 – 2012, there was a global movement of youthful change. Many protests took place around the world. There was the Occupy Movement. Elsewhere there was the Jasmine Revolution and Arab Spring. Each had varying degrees of impact. The protest in Halifax produced one of the most ironic statements of the global movement, “We have heard your plights now go home and be quiet”. In other parts of the world extreme violence broke out and rage on to this day. Syria, Yemen and Libya are the most known. Of these, Syria has taken a greatest grasp of the global stage. As we seek solutions to ending the war in Syria there will always be counter solutions and of course history. For those who live in the towns and cities of Syria, an end to the violence can not come fast enough. It is at this point where finding blame needs to be put aside and focus on the ceasefire agreements. For those that disagree, they should truly understand that in all reality there is no one that is without blame. Right now the world needs to look at what is taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as power vacuums are prolonging violence. Sadly the current government of Syria has a leader that has done an extraordinary amount of harm to the people of Syria. It is truly disheartening to see this man remain in power. To that reality we must ask who is to lead next? Now, if you think what is taking place in Syria is terrible, The power struggle will become even more chaotic when Assad is removed. Another Iraq or Afghanistan will be created. The best way forward is to keep the current leadership structure in place until the people can peacefully vote him out. How is that done? The complexity is held within the mechanics, the building blocks, the melding of all that is or simply put – the how. Every country needs to swallow a bit of bravado and take the monumental step of actually working together to end the violence. This will need to have the children as the absolute focal point of the solution. It will need a deep and heavy commitment of ground troops to enter Syria. Tighten the borders of Syria if not completely lock them down. Assad will have no choice but to listen to such a plan. As for the legality of sovereignty, that issue is put to the side under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. This is the same doctrine that Canada used to bomb Libya. Next people will ask how long will our troops be engaged in the battle. Well Canada did not leave the European theatre until 1992 so another 50 years is possible. Unless you do not have the courage to actually solve the Syrian war then continue on the path that is currently being taken. In all probability, after fifty years this war will still be raging on and the same solution will be needed. There is no doubt that Assad must go. So does every leader at some point. Calling for Assad to leave now is not going to help the situation. What is more important is the world powers to actually work together and take control of this war. The capacity is there to accomplish peace fairly quickly. The missing element is the will to do what needs to be done. What is taking place in Syria is simply the combatants fighting to hold power. We have gone down the path of destruction to far to not work with Assad now. As much as it pains us to do such a thing it must be done because it is the quickest path to peace – without complete and total destruction of the population and country. As often happens in a dysfunctional and disgusting situation, we must deal with hidden agendas, back room deals, ego and power grabs. There is no lack of such elements as poor decisions are made one after the other. In the end the one who pay the ultimate price – the children.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Politics and Patronage

Throughout history, in fact ever since two people stood in front of each other there has been a need for systems of understanding. Language being one such method used to bring understanding. As humans progressed and larger groups formed, we needed more systems to bring order. Political parties are examples of systems used to bring order and structure at least, peace is a different matter. We often get people who are skilled at politics yet inept at peace. The irony is that politics is there to assist us in securing peace. For example we have Libya, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and many other areas where politicians have done a masterful job of getting what they want. However the ability to bring peace has been left behind. Here in Canada, peace in our society is far greater than the countries noted above. Even though we do not live in an society that is waging open warfare does not mean we can be less diligent on the efforts to be peaceful. In truth, we should feel the obligation to be ever more diligent. To do this we must look beyond current thoughts and understanding of political normalcy. One area that has been abused to get lengths by every party holding power rests within the legislative branches of governance. One of the most radical out side the box ideas is to do away with party politics in the House. For example, here in Canada, the territory of Nunavut has no party politics. Doing so increases transparency, responsibility to voters and decreases political patronage, pork barrel politics and whipped votes. One of the largest barriers we have is the attachment to old school party politic method and ideology. The system of party politics is comfortable and familiar. Sadly, there are emergent realities that erode the trust of the people creeping in, these must be dealt with. As an example the next government could pledge to appoint the best person for each Ministry no matter what party they belong to. These members should not have to change parties or cross the floor which does happen on occasion. Or, how about each party leader as a Minister of Education, another party leader as Minister of Health or Minister of Finance and so on. At the very least I think that every elected member should be allowed to apply for a Minister position. The best person for the job is always mentioned and sometimes the party that holds power just does not have the best person within its ranks. I understand these are not typical concepts but that is what outside the box thinking is. Furthermore, there is no legal reason it is not done today. The only reason it is not done is due to political patronage and the fact that it is rare to have a politician with enough courage to try it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Recruiting youth

Ending mass group violence such as gangs and even groups like Daesh has some very common connecting threads. Even more broadly, the threads of commonality that can end violence also reach into racist ideology. The common thread is very much stated in the words of a former soldier fighting for Daesh in Iraq. Below is an exert from a news article on the Reuters website: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-mosul-prisoners-idUSKBN15W1N0 Hussein sees himself as a victim of hardship, a product of a broken home and poverty in his hometown of Mosul, where Iraqi forces have launched an offensive against Islamic State to dislodge them from their last stronghold in Iraq. "I had no money. No one to say 'This is wrong, this is right.' No jobs. I had friends but no one to give me advice" said Hussein. These impoverished people are the gardens of gang recruitment. Sadly we have understood this reality for hundreds of years. Even though the news article is about a person in Iraq, it can just as easily be a person in any town or city across the world. Yet it is completely mind boggling to me every time I hear people say there is no money to help such people or that enough is being done to help. The issue of assisting the impoverished is not simple because we make it complicated. However, there is an element that is difficult to bridge and that element is best stated with a cliché of “you can take a horse to water but you can not make it drink”. This is the proverbial person who “slips through the cracks”. Are we doing enough, are we spending enough? We are spending enough but we are spending in wrong areas. This is where we have a certain lack of will to do the toughest job, to fight where it matters most and stand up for the youth who seem to continually thumb their noses at us. If gangs can recruit these youth, others who have a greater societal peace in mind can do so as well.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Political Leadership

The cliché stating that politics and religion are not considered polite conversations topics is rooted in the fact that such topics often result in fights. Going a bit further into the reasons why discussions end up in fights is due to the mental inflexibility of the involved. Simply put, the conversations quickly end up in absolute statements or what is known in negotiation speak as ultimate hammers or more commonly my way or the highway type of language. If we are to progress in society each of us has to expand our tactics of discussions. This is the political leadership we need. For those that can remember chat rooms, message boards, and now facebook posts, the type of language being referenced is clearly exhibited in those formats. These formats are then defended with freedoms of expression laws and human rights law. What is often missed is the fact that laws are the lowest bar of common decency not the highest level of expectation. If you have to use a law to defend your actions you have already crept towards the minimum of expectations. As many political parties around the world are looking for new leadership there is and will continue to be a tremendous amount of rhetoric. This is where the communication tool called the internet is used to perfection. We have all seen the videos of a ranting Hitler, the interview of Mexican laughing, the baby making a fist and many others. Each will have captions and words dubbed in. These are wdiley used and can be transferred to point a finger at anyone. What is most disturbing about such tactics is that it is a well documented indication of racism. Next we often will hear such statements as “This is the only person who has the intelligence to lead” or “This is the only person who can understand the complexities of international trade” or “this is the only person who whatever”, fill in the blanks. Such statements are completely ignorant of fact. The truth is that every society is filled with people who have the intelligence and capacity to accomplish any task needed. Furthermore, no leader is greater than the people/staff/citizenry they are surrounded by. Building society truly rests upon each of us – the individual. Over the last thousand years we have come to understand that the best way to have peace is to be peaceful. The best economies are those that have the most peaceful societies. The best trading partners are those that seek to improve every aspect of life. The best people to deal with are those that seek to understand first and then find a common path forward. In short the best leaders are those that have a calm resolve to peacefully work with whoever they may find themselves amongst. As we hear leaders debate there are tell tale words and phrases which must be noted as characteristics of poor leadership which have been noted above. Of course there are a great deal more. Ultimately there is no replacing the leadership that each of us is responsible for when engaging with others.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Globalization and protectionist trade ideology

It is very rare that a brand new system or thought enters the world. It is like those who say that wifi is a brand new technology when in fact, wireless communication was invented in 1901. Again that date is not really the first time wireless communication was tried. There had been years of tests and failures. What does this have to do with trade relations? First off, the relation is to understand the reality of the world we live in. Understand the history of how we got to where we are. Understand why we have globalization of trade, understand that trade is part of economic growth as far back as we can recall. The Silk Road was globalization trade. The explorers that reached the shores of the Americas had expansion of economics on their minds. On the downside we must understand that global trade is somewhat a house of cards as well. Globalization is a factor in many economic problems. These are front and center in the pushes for Brexit and the recall of the Trans Pacific Partnership, North American Free Trade Agreement and others. No one really knows how these trade agreements will turn out until they are in place and allowed to work. The reason for that is called life. Things on paper will not always work when put into action. Everyone person on this planet should know and understand this primary factor of life. Thought and action are two different realities. That is why every agreement has a negotiation/dispute settlement clause in them. As life evolves, so will the wants, desires and views of the public change. Again this is life and that will create conflicts. Throughout history there has been the understanding of the connection between economics and social good – quality of life. One of the greatest concepts about this subject is known as the Tragedy of the Commons. In another great reference of the connection between economics and social good is the story written by Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” (1843). In this story, the lines “Mankind was my business. Their common welfare was my business” was screamed by the ghost of business man Jacob Marley as he tried to change the mind of his partner Ebeneezer Scrooge. Going back further we have stories such as the Stone Soup or Button Borscht. These are very much rooted in the ideology of communal good. These stories can also help us understand why protectionist ideology is harmful and why globalization trade is needed. Although there is a simplicity in this article, the reality is not. Trade agreements take decades to negotiate and then years to implement and of course the evolution takes place. Also we have to understand the complexity of merging economics and social welfare. At some point there will be harm done to generate economics such as pollution, human injury and other harms. Again this is life, there are costs/balances to everything. Trade/economics and social welfare have been separated in arguments because social welfare is not on the minds of those who wish to exploit. Some leaders grab on to this sentiment and run with them. They do so at their peril because we have lived in a world that has been deeply connected through global trade for centuries if not thousands of years. As always we must be on guard due to the elements within the tragedy of the commons – greed. We know that there will be those that sell out the entire world for money. As we get set for many debates about globalization and protectionist ideology, complex factors will surface about what is the goal. Many will say it is the pursuit of a good life. Well the definition of that is again different for each of us. As the debate rages on we will hear the theories about rising tides, domino effects, nash equilibrium, tit for tat game theory and many others. At the end of it all it will come down to trusting the everyone negotiates in good faith. Let the games begin and pray for those that will get stepped on by the Machiavelists.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Paper tigers are doing great harm to the world

We have lived in a world where courts and negotiation rooms have been used to the point where such environments are feared. In reality these environments were built to bring peace and fairness to the world. Over time these systems have been usurped by paper tigers. These people have completely forgotten about the reality of why these systems were built. At this very point we need the axiom of “forget the lessons and you will make past mistakes”. Over thousands of years we had grown tired of fighting, killing and destroying each other when a disagreement took place. There was an enlightening period where we had seen a larger end game at play. We needed more peaceful methods. We progressed to a point where physical wars were seen as a reality to avoid because it was just stupid. However we have to respect natural instincts and sometimes insanity takes hold, then a brawl (war) takes place. So here we are. We have many people who take peace for granted as they push others around using courts and negotiation rooms. These people have forgotten the insanity rule. The insanity rule is this: 50% of all the world is insane because that is the true balance of nature – equality – for every action there is an equal reaction. The most important part of the insanity rule is that an insane person can be dealt with rationally as long as you are willing to work peacefully with others. However you best be ready for the occasional burst of energy. We all have this component within us. Sadly there are some who have forgotten this and use the systems of our courts and negotiation rooms as if they are battle fields. We built these systems to be arenas for mutual discussion, team work, to allow facts, truth and reason to be expressed. Over time these systems have become something else and feared. The court rooms have been used as weapons of oppression. The negotiation room has become a place to drop notice of impending doom. For more clear examples of how the paper tiger attitude has eroded global peace, this is exactly what the Arab Spring was about. This is what sprung the Occupy movement. This is what brought Al-Qaida to the world. This is what small print contracts have become. Each of these indicate that the mind is the first weapon used. Next is the mouth, then the hands. With many paper tigers the intention is to bully others. Such people will bring great harm as we have already witnessed. It is the intention of the actor which is to be questioned. We built systems of peace yet those systems are now being used by certain actors to oppress many. We are told that the systems are there to protect us yet, how many of us feel that is true? This is an indication we need to be very aware of. As is always the case, it is not the system being used – it is the people using the system that is of greater importance.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Play nice with the bully

For many years we have poured great effort into the issue of bullying. Well this very morning I have just read four newspaper articles that speak to the bullying style leadership of Donald Trump. Add the disturbing fact about how the tactic relies on misinformation and threats. The more disturbing part is the reality that people are bowing under the pressure. Seriously, what does that say about all the resources, attention, effort and advice we have spent to end such behaviour? What is says is that we can be bought, we are sell outs. Personally, it is not a shock to see the image of a very tough, thick skinned, fast paced, financial industry be exposed as a group that can be easily pushed around. Same as the auto industry. These corporate giants have crawled on hands and knees to governments before and use similar bully tactics on a daily basis. This is how the tough image was born. You will be sold out at any moment. There is no integrity, there is no good will, there is no character but the image of who has the most money no matteer how you get it. The character of all the charity work to stand up to bullying, to stand up for truth, for just society and to be leaders of good faith have all been crippled. All of this work has been undone by and we have allowed the bully to rage on. This is a very disappointing situation. Furthermore, the media has been telling us to play nice with Donald Trump because he will take our lunch money if we do not. In the face of that I have to ask – what the hell did we fight World War Two for if not to end such idiocy? Where is our character, what do we stand for? Are we really going to sell out and bow down to a bully? Are we that short sighted, that weak, are we going to shame those that we have told to stand up against bullying? For years we stood up against such tactics. Yet at the pinnacle of opportunities to be an example of integrity, character, trust and strength we are failing. As this is being pointed out the only argument that is brought to counter the stance against Donald Trump is that it will cost us money. Well to that I say, if you ever wanted to know what it is like to be a prostitute you have just crossed that line. You are willing to sell the very essence of what we are for money. So play nice with the bully so you can keep your money while your integrity and character is flushed into the sewer. While you are at it, you best stop all the advertising about corporations being community friends, strong supporters of building communities that care, building communities that look after each other or building a sense of strength for those who speak truth in the face of lies, attacks, slander, threats, accusations and outright childish temper tantrums. Building a peaceful world is not easy and it cost a great deal more that all the money that will ever exist. At this time we have tough choices to make and how we act. Who you are and what you stand for is being put to the test. Having seen what has already taken place I have to say that most will sell out. Once this battle is all over it will take a massive cleanse to wash the slime off ourselves. How do we get through this with our character in tact? We stay with the facts and truth. When we are threatened with misinformation we stand firm and say – take your best shot. We might get hit hard. However the hit will never be hard enough to do any real harm. We continue on with our work as we expose weaknesses of the bully. In time we will gain greater rewards than if we had capitulated to the bully. This is the path of peace.