Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Word from Mr. Keynes

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back"

-John Maynard Keynes-

I choose to post this quote not only because Keynes is my favorite economist, but also because I am an International Relations major and am considering a second major in Economics. My aim is such to become the 'academic scribbler' Keynes is discussing. I agree with him, in that I too see the world directed largely by economic & political theory. I study with the hope that someday I may be in a position where I may have a large affect in empowering the oppressed, motivated by my heart of social justice. Hotel Rwanda reminded me why I am in school, and why I am an IR major, because honestly I could care less about the Republicans or Democrats, or the new face of the DNC. I mean its all fine and fun at times, but the reality is there is alot of oppression left in this world and I hope that I may, to whatever degree is possible, follow in the footsteps of such great figures as Mandela and King and add a grain of hope to this world.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

So I am back from Spring Break, it was really nice, anyhow... Over the course of it I saw Hotel Rwanda, and it affected me deeply, I honestly cannot remember the last time I was so upset. I was upset because this atrocity is one of the worst genocides in human history, it occured only 11 years ago, and yet the West understands so very little of it. I was angry because it is still going on, with the RAF hunting down former Hutu fighters and militia. I was angry because the world ignored the conflict and let it happen, why because they were Africans. I was angry because I could see the direct influence of colonialism as acting as a catalyst in the conflict. The west interest in Africa too often seems to exploit it for personal advantage, and ignore it when it despritly needs our help. I am tired of Africa being eclipsed, and misunderstood and that is why I am angry. I highly recommend the movie, and if anyone is interested there is a book, Shake Hands with the Devil, that came out last year that deals with the UN general who tried to keep the peace. He plays a large role in the film, and the book just came out. I have not read it, but heard excellent reviews from NPR.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Question of Reconciliation

So I have been thinking alot about Christianity's legacy tying itself with Colonialism. I was researching for a paper, on colonialism in Africa and I came across this.

Onward Christian Soilders
Into Heathen Lands
Prayer Books in you Pockets
Rifels in Hands
Take the Happy Tidings
Where Trade can be Done
Spread the Peaceful Gospel
With the Gattling Gun


How do we as Christians reconcile our past. It seems like for too long we have just ignored this aspect and said, "oh well I didnt do it". Well I am sorry but, this is an issue we must address. Being at Knox the number one thing you hear about Christians is the atrocities associated in the name of God. It is an obstacle to the Gospel, and something needs to be done.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Illuminate.

"A European village priest in medieval times once gathered his church for a special service. 'Come tonight,' he told them, 'for a special sermon on Jesus.' And they did. They came. To their surprise, however, no candles illuminated the sanctuary. They groped their way to the pews and took their seats. The priest was nowhere to be seen. But soon he was heard walking through the church toward the front. When he reached the crucifix that hung on the wall, he lit a candle. Saying nothing, he illuminated the pierced feet of Christ, then the side, then one hand, and then the other. Lifting the candle, he shed light on the blood-masked face and the crown of thorns. With a puff, he blew out the candle and dismissed the church. May we do nothing more. May we do nothing less."

- An excerpt from "It's Not About Me; Rescue from the Life We Thought Would Make Us Happy" by Max Lucado.

Friday, March 04, 2005

BAN PROPOSAL

I propose that we ban Mr. Adam Jefferson Cox from Amandla. No participation means no admittance.

I wish I knew Mr. Peck

Bring it on!...

"That which is false is unreal. The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world- the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusion- the less we will be able to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions...

Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful. We can revise our maps {i.e. our own course of action} only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain. To have such discipline we must be totally dedicated to truth. That is to say that we must always hold truth, as best we can determine it, to be more important, more vital to one's self-interest than our comfort (BAM!, YES!)... A life of total dedication to truth also means a life of willingness to be personally challenged... but the tendency to avoid challenge is so omnipresent in human beings that it can properly be considered as a characteristic of human nature."

Thank you Mr. Scott Peck.

Currently listening to: My Music on Yahoo (where you rate the music they throw at you, according to your preferences). Something horrible is on right now (Matt Nathanson)- it's going to get the 'never play again' vote.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Acceptance of the Unacceptable

So over the past few days I have been throwing down thoughts surrounding the oppression of women with my friend Ana. While doing so, many questions have arisen in my mind surrounding cultures at large and how to deal with the inequality present in a foreign culture while still respecting its sovereignty. So let me first highlight some assumptions that will be used in formulating this argument against the oppression women in a foreign culture. I would assume these are givens, for all who read this but none-the-less let me articulate them. First women are of equal status to men. They hold the same value, and thus deserve equal respect, protection under the law, and reimbursement for services. To attain these goals they then must also be afforded equal opportunities for self-advancement. Secondly, culture is the totality or aggregate behavior, ethos, beliefs, expressions, and overall tone of a society. Given these values and assuming the universal application of them--it is my argument that oppression of a person based on gender is wrong, regardless of culture.

To remain somewhat unbiased let us assume for the moment that we have in country Y a society who's overall tone is oppressive to women. Our goal is the change this and create equality. My first challenge is that there seems to be a liberal value that many of us have which respects and seeks to respect a society, and to not interfere with its course or belief system. However, in doing so do we tolerate the intolerant? In other words, do we have a certain set of values for human rights that we hold as a measure in our own society, yet lower these principles and standards when looking internationally. I believe that this is wrong because I do believe in the idea that all people have certain inalieable rights, and that these rights are universal to the human experience. All people are equal, one does not hold more or less value than another. So if we hold equality of women as applicable only to our society, yet believe in the universalism of it, then our silence towards another cultures practices is both hypocritical and malignate to the human race.

It is possible to throw out a section of a society without disenfranchising it. Culture is an apparatus of human formation, it contains both good and bad elements. Thus if country Y were manifested as a human, we could say that their are certain elements of that persons character which are well, and others which could be improved or altered in order for them to become a better person. And yet they would remain the same person, just in a more developed state. Likewise in a society we see the same thing. A great example from our own history is the civil rights movement, and the issue of civil disobedience. King and others in the movement rejected the subjugation that minorities dealt with, and sought to bring about equality. They did not reject the United States, merely the oppression within it. They worked within the system, disobeying certain statutes yet recognized the authority and value of the society overall. They felt a deep love and commitment for this culture and sought to bring about its development, not destruction. So in throwing out a portion of our culture that was cancerous they in effect made us better, and we are still distinctly American.

Finally, how do we respect the sovereignty of a nation while still invoking this sort of change. For me it is a simple answer. We find women and men inside the society who are already working towards equality, and we align ourselves with them. We give them our support and aid them as possible, yet it remains their's. We don't live in their society, nor do we understand the specificities of it and as outsiders we don't have to live with the consequences of the actions. I feel this principle can be applied to a multitude of issues, and is one of the reason I was against the invasion of Iraq. We were invading and imposing our will. We should have been there in 96' supporting the popular uprising...Anyhow I digress. If people themselves don't propagate a movement I worry about its effectiveness. Without ownership a movement is less likely to penetrate a society and/or have lasting influence. Remember its passionate people who affect and change society, not ideas.

In closing, I would not like to summarize the above but rather to comment on two more personal points. First of all, as a man in this society I find the objectification of women disheartening. The propagation of this, largely by pop culture, I fear reverses many of the advances in equality since the 1920's. Granted women have received much more equality and opportunity, yet the idea that outside the professional setting they are material is disturbing and wrong. Secondly since this is Womens appreciation Month, I would like to recognize the many strong and capable women who have given me such respect for women. First of all my brilliant and loving Mother for raising and investing in me, my grandmother the worlds best listener, the Barrett-clan sister--whom I consider my own--for being strong and independent, Erin for not taking crap and having a voice, to Brenda Rindels for not being afraid to put me in my place, and most recently to Ana for spurring the thought that led to this essay, helping me formulate ideas, and for being such a strong and great friend.