Exterior spiral staircases with a touch of Anglophones in a seemingly european francophony northern-american city, a poutineville, and snow-laden walk way with friendly people, and discovering a city with 70s-like subway system with mon bébé is the beginning of an end! Je’taime mon Beau.
Our love across the universe is traveling through five continents (Asia, Oceania, North America, Africa and Europe) and is reunited in this glorious Christmas and are able to witness and celebrate the transition to 2013. Hallelujah to our 16-month anniversary!
Honestly, what more can we ask in our inauspicious relationship?
Admittedly, aside from all guilty carbon footprint that I left behind as a result of my extensive travels as you can see above, 2012 has been the most intensive year I’ve ever had. I’ve made some drastic decisions, committed myself in a seem-to-be impossible love, graduated as an environmental engineer without being able to tell the difference between a synchronous or asynchronous generator in wind turbine, seen one of the most beautiful desert sunset in World, tandem sky-dived from 13,000 ft, bungy-jumped for the first time, swam with dusky dolphins, inked again, picked up french lessons, sang with my loved ones, ate caterpillars, kissed a girl, made my first snowman, snowshoed, and……. I’m loved!
The fortune cookie tells that 2013 will be a year full of love and laughter!
Knowledge = Power (1)
Knowledge = (2)
Power = (3)
Let me open my case by presenting you some basic arithmetic derivation. Sir Francis Bacon famous aphorism “knowledge is power” produces equation (1) whereby Albert Einstein’s quote on “More the knowledge lesser the Ego, lesser the knowledge, more the Ego” equates (2). So, substituting algebraic equation (1) in equation (2) yields equation (3), fairly simple mathematics. “More the power lesser the Ego, lesser the power, more the Ego”, how true does this statement holds?
The world map above clearly shows the heavy distribution of scientific research, or publication of results, in richer territories which is concentrated on the global north. This locational bias is such that roughly three times more scientific papers per person living there are published in Western Europe, North America, and Japan, than in any other region. I’m deeply triggered by this map and somehow feel rather ashamed and overwhelmed by a deep sense of humiliation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying to spark off a race on which country hoards the most scientific papers winner earns a prize for that. NO, but I’m resentful on such indicators which is terribly shattering the confidence of the people from the developing countries to develop further. I argue that even education in the form of research and development is not serving as a stepping stone for local empowerment in most developing countries. More often than not, people’s well-being, be it poverty, the livelihood, even the level of civilization is measured by scientists trained and educated from the Western society. They impose biased judgments and values based purely on their understanding and interpretation of the researched society.
It’s not enough to have science which enriches knowledge but what more important is to understand the science and the arguments. Arguments are sets of sentences, statements and propositions. We can all agree that they are all made out of language. So, if we understand language better, we can understand humans and arguments better. Even Helen Keller who wasn’t able to see and hear gained her ability to use language and was able to communicate and transfer her ideas to people.
The illustration of this language diversity of the world can be seen from this chart complied by the Economist:
Economist reports that linguistic rivalry and relative poverty deter the emergence of a single language as occur in Nigeria and India, therefore scoring a high diversity index. Secondly, geography factor contributes to high language diversity. Countries consist of scattered islands like Indonesia and the Philippines shelter small languages. Two main factors combine leave Congo and Papua New Guinea the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. Therefore, is it a fair verdict that the lesser the power, the more Ego people possess to obstruct any form of intrusion? Or the more the power, the MORE Ego people tend to have to dominate the inferiors and vulnerable?
Language can be seen as one of the greatest barrier in the scientific communication and publishing field. Poor translation and misinterpretation as well as weak institutional guidelines and policy hinder the development both in soft and hard sciences. Many developing countries hence are isolated from the mainstream international science community. For instance, in China only a tiny fraction of 6,5964 scientific journals are abstracted in English and indexed in Scientific Citation Index Expanded (SCIE). On top of that, only 3 percent which is 495 of more than 15,000 scientific periodicals among the ‘BRIC’ countries is listed on the Scientific Citation Index Expanded (SCIE). The proliferation of the “hidden” science sources in native languages raises question about quality as they are not up to the standard of a global comparative study. The scientific society claims that lack of high quality standard assessment prevents the presentation and publication quality data. Yet, in order to overcome red tape and gain recognition from a renowned and accepted academia society is a hurdle for many developing countries’ scientists. As a result, due to lack of funds, resources and network, many undiscovered scientific outputs and potential seeds of breakthrough are swept under the rug. The excuse of governments and scientific society often lies at the core of complexity and transparency of the matter. When this access of academia outputs from the global south remains invisible to the scientific society the global level, it can only hinder growth and makes all global science poorer. Solely depending on the more influential northern society will only impede the knowledge dissemination as they can easily take this matter for granted.
In most general cases, it is reasonable to conclude that through acquired knowledge, power is gained or earned, either by means of invention, affluence, discovery, invention or innovation. When the developing nations are denied the least access to this knowledge transfer and communication, we’re destined to be marginalized and exploited in many ways. This simple anomaly projects not only the entire system of how we view the world but also the co-existence of white supremacy which continue to linger today. There’s a substantial effort made to revive and renew Area Studies by rendering globalization not in a US-perspective, but in perspectives coming from different regions of the world, “Global in reach, local in perspective”. This modification of Area Studies tends to promotes global agenda but national/local perspective. As Globalization is connecting our world closer, we are also viewing and defining our world through an americentrism-tinted glass.
Imagine there’s no nature
It’s easy if you try
No trees around us
Above us only smog
Imagine all the people cutting trees for money
Imagine there’s no LGBT
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to shame or fight for
And no discriminated immigrants and labor too
Imagine all the people living life without dignity
You, you may say I’m an advocate,
but I’m not the only one
I hope someday we’ll be awaken
And the world will be as one
Imagine apartheid I wonder if you can
Black in prison and white in mansion
Non existence of brotherhood
Imagine only xenophobia
You, you may say I’m an advocate,
but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll initiate
And the world will live as one
Inspired by John Lennon’s Imagine
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds. – Bob Marley, Redemption Song
I heard you asking what are the above mentioned themes have in common.
How reverberation of salvation of flora and fauna from ever-growing human violation and over exploitation or the propagation of equality of lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and their liberation from all forms of discrimination can shape a better world that we live in? How can the rights of the 240 millions migrants around the world be protected when they are in a state of powerlessness? What about the forgotten victims of Apartheid who were compelled to endure discrimination and enslavement due to racial superiority and whose voices always are belittled?
Global social advocacy, global civil society or transnational advocacy network, whatever roles there may be, however they may be named or categorized, and these global movements have an important role in placing international pressure to the undermined society as mention above.
Take a look at Uganda, a country with almost 35 million people is preparing to endorse an anti-homosexuality bill that proposes tough jail sentences for consensual same-sex behavior. East African nations do not recognize LBGT communities where they are considered as social outcast in the society. The new bill proposes a harsher penalty as homosexuality behavior will be punished with life imprisonment. This oppression of freedom to human dignity, equality and justice to all is clearly demonstrated when prominent gay rights activist David Kato was beaten to death in the country in 2011. This bill nullifies international treaties and protocols such as withdrawal from UDHR. Reaction and outrage from the international advocacy arena responded through civil society movement such as Amnesty International and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) as well as campaigns launched by Avaaz.org and Allout.org to collect signatories for their petition ‘Stop Uganda’s Kill The Gays Bill’ and ‘Hours to stop Uganda’s gay death penalty’ respectively. While more nations in the West are gaining momentum on legalizing full-marriage of homosexual, opposition to gay rights and homophobia remains ferocious. Change of attitude and trend in Muslim and Africa world stays onerous.
Zooming into South Africa, apartheid (apartness) is a legalized system of oppression and separation based on race. One start to question the Apartheid system which haunted South Africa for almost half a century beginning from 1949 to 1994 even as they intentionally abstained from signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which South Africa did in 1948, what critical role did the Transnational Advocacy Network play to abolish and repress this system? The detailed apartheid legislations were so carefully crafted to support the white supremacy and discriminate the majority of black inhabitants. Even with international oppositions to apartheid in South Africa, the whites were able to enjoy their dominance which was lingering over an astonishing half a century. How emerging global civil society can learn from the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM)?
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) were instruments used by AAM to intensify and spread the anti-apartheid campaign. Although AAM’s successes in forcing South Africa to quit its Commonwealth membership in 1961 and its expulsion in Olympic participation in 1970, other boycott and economic sanctions did not receive as much acceptance and support as intended from the west. AAM effortlessly spearheaded more radial cooperation with United Nations in 1966 to formulate an international campaign with range of measures to isolate the regime, imposing effective sanctions and promoting public opinion. The AAM was advocating using tactics like information disseminations, community empowerment, media and communication which were complemented by the existing infrastructure. BDS tend to influence government policies if organized by grassroots levels.
From legal to political issues to environment, woman empowerment, child abuse, human rights, social welfare, economic development and many more, people long to make these people’s voices heard in various areas. The idea of global advocacy to create a “better world” through a set of predefined morality and social justice is definitely possible if everyone in the world embraces the similar idea of change.
Whether all these advocacies in various vulnerable matters can be effective or condemned in an international scale largely depends on the dimension of involvement and approach of the global civil society network.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. – Mother Teresa
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but those who watch without doing anything – Albert Einstein
“Broccoli Obama or Meat Romney?”
Simple choice cause I’m a vegetarian
This morning while the day has finally arrived for Americans to decide its future, President Obama was asked about PSY’s Gangnam Style dance craze, yes even amidst the Election Day, he too needs to do the ‘Obama Style’. “I just saw that video for the first time…I think I can do that move,” he said of the gallop dance from the viral Youtube video that has a traffic hit of a staggering 659.970.000 views since being uploaded in mid-July.
South Korean rapper PSY has taken the world by storm with his splashly ‘Gangnam Style’’s dance move, that it was performed to the British Prime Minister David Cameroon and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who hailed “Gangnam Style” as a “force for world peace” and sparked off “UN Style”. Next his video became a source parodies to many prominent figures1. Students and fans around the world through internet have organized Gangnam Style flash mobs. How can this catchy pop song gain so much popularity? And what is ‘Gangnam’ style?
Gangnam is in reality a district of Seoul about half the size of Manhattan where its neighborhood is covered with designer boutiques, a boom of plastic surgery clinics, women with trendy and classy style, which is often described akin to the Beverly Hills in California. It has been reported that Gangnam is home to the wealthiest 1 percent of Seoul’s population and the average Gangnam apartment costs about $716,000, a sum that would take an average South Korean household 18 years to earn. Indeed, this neighborhood has access to the country’s best education opportunities, best cultural offerings and best infrastructure. This Gangnam style is nothing new to many emerging countries around the world; in fact it is a global scenario where no country can escape from the present trend of unequal distribution of both wealth and opportunity. The gap between the more and less educated has widen and cronyism continues to prevail in all layers of society. One in which the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer. Unequal income distribution is a reflection of market and government failures which all in all impede growth and social mobility. Can we call this disaster capitalism as described by Noami Klein? Is Gangnam, a green zone – product of capitalism?
Yes, strategic and economic reforms are crucial, but to what extent? Firstly, enhance market competition and restrain cronyism and monopolies are measures to promote equality both at the national and global level. Hence, in our 21st-century liberal capitalism, the access to the free market should enable and offer equal opportunity to everyone to compete on the global playing field – the fittest and the evils of the state survive. However, the current trend shows otherwise. Going back, it’s rather G20’s playing field. After the financial meltdown in 2008 many worlds’ largest economies have reverted to trade protectionist measures to dampen foreign competition as oppose to a consensus in a G20 crisis summit in Washington. A study shows that EU and its 27 member states are the culprits who have generated more than a third of the protectionism policies which 93 percent of them discriminated foreign competition. Laissez-faire capitalism or Western liberal capitalism is clearly not the case here. Fair trading in a global economic system where some companies are benefiting from national government’s support, overtly and covertly is questionable.
On the contrary, developing countries in Asia-Pacific adopted vigorous open trading through exporting to rich countries during the Asian crisis in the late 1990s. State capitalism adopted today was started in Singapore and the model was then implemented by Deng Xiaoping in opening China up to global market. Clearly the intervention of state in the liberal market demonstrates a system’s contradiction and self-defeating. Vested interests at the end might initiate a trade war. On meta-level governments around the world are ready to commit to progressively increase social expenditure, to create more jobs and reduce hunger to tackle the divergence in fortunes of the people and boost national growth. Education is the main ingredient to build a competitive society which can drive a nation collectively. Money has to be largely spent on improving education materials and incentive for teachers and students in developing countries. For instance, while America allocates roughly 4.8 percent of GDP, U$ 700 billion in military spending in 2010, shift of spending towards education which holds 5.7 percent of GDP, U$ 972 billion can be utilized to boost social mobility through investing in the younger generation.
As the Americans have opted for “Broccoli” for a more sustainable diet, people around the world can rejoice and continue to anticipate for more equitable world!
Three people from three different continents traveled over 1500 km, crossed path with one cheetah, one leopard, four lions, one spotted hyena, eight white and black rhinoceros, ten hippopotami, countless zebras, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, kudus, oryxes, springboks, ostriches, impalas, elands, hartebeest, damara dik dik, bushbuck, steenbok on the way to attend and witness a wedding of a German-Namibian couple over the weekend at Etosha National Park and Caprivi Strip.
Love has been defined in this short period. The love which is unconditional, with complete acceptance, pure happiness, trespasses time and distance is ultimately proven and witnessed in the wedding. The joy of finding our one true love and commitment to spend the rest of our lives with the one regardless of sickness, hardship and how big the storm might be is the greatest gift one could ever have. Without love, we are nothing.
On the other side, I also have witnessed that love is jealousy, possessive, selfish and unreasonable. Love can both bring out the best in one individual and destroy the best of one. Distrust, thoughtlessness, inconsiderate, depressive, egotistic in one’s personality can be the result of love.
I’ve seen how the newlywed couple truly appreciates one another and despite of the cultural differences, they can honor and respect their traditions and people of their own creed. Humility like one quoted is one of greatest quality in the humanity. We respect our partners and remain faithful to the people around us. We strive to treat everyone as how we want to be treated. Humanity exists because love brings us together and makes us whole. However if love were manipulated, it can also destroy our humanity.
So, here I am in Namibia learning about love for animals, love for a child, the respect to nature and experiencing the love shared by others: the beauty of love, the infinite love, as well as the selfishness of love, the protected love, the love that demands and not given.
I’m once again overwhelmed by the extent of it. I can only admire and learn from the all these people around me and ultimately be a better person.
My arrival on “Land of the Brave” has been positively invigorating and needless to say as this is my first time in the African continent, I don’t know what to expect. Before my departure, Namibia has never appeal to me or has caught much of media attention as much as the Central Africa due to much poverty and HIV/AIDS.
Truth to be told, Windhoek has surprised and charmed me with her very own way. I’m aware that I’m still a beginner when it comes to traveling and expanding my horizon, therefore with a tad little of beginner’s luck, I could go really far.
If there’s anything that I can help to draw you a picture of Namibia, it would be somewhere between Mongolia and New Zealand! The vast land, desert, landscape, sand dunes, rich wildlife as bonus and beautiful tribal people just excite me to thirst for more.
So, here I’m in Namibia, situated at the southern Africa just above South Africa and between Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Well, this is beginner’s luck! Little did I know the click language originated from this region.