Learning

I’m a bare-bones and big-picture thinker. Although, I understand the general purpose of this question, I can’t help but hear it in its most simplistic form.

How has learning affected my thoughts or ideas?

Well, I’d be a real idiot. If I hadn’t learned to crawl or walk, I might have grown with the impression that the world was there to serve me just as my parents would have had to do. If I hadn’t learned to speak, I would have developed an emotional complex feeling I was never fully understood. If I was not able to learn, I would live my entire life in some special care facility for the dumb.

Learning obviously broadens the mind, exposing it to perspectives our imaginations are often too self-centered to create. It gives us the tools with which to mold our environments more to our liking, and it allows us to adapt in a world that will change endlessly. Learning moves us forward and sometimes backward.

Learning taught me that I’m better than other people, then it taught me that I was mistaken about that. Learning taught some people the world is flat; it taught me that it’s round; who knows what it will teach the future generations…multi-dimensionality is a very solid concept in physics and religion both.

The one thing I know is that learning makes me feel alive…and I like living.

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Nationalism – The Setting Stage of Ethnic Abuses

It is difficult to say that nationalism, a shared pride in a national unit, is bad. It isn’t. It is the glue that makes us all feel we are part of something important, that we have something in common, and when it coincides with respect for your fellow citizen, it leads to a unified commerce.

Nationalism is an ego. Ego is what makes a man move on in dire situations; it even makes a man strive to overcome natures laws themselves (see the worlds of science & invention). Ego is a necessity to human survival; nationalism is a necessity to national development and unity.

Ego can also destroy a man, however, because, as is our human nature, we get addicted to feel-good emotions, especial the ones that foster delusions that relieve the stresses of reality.

Nationalism, when left unchecked, has been the sprouting seed of a number of global problems (Nazi nationalism {Book – Inside Nazi Germany}, Japanese nationalism, British nationalism; just to mention a small time period in world history). Basic fertilizers have been economic decline (basic human struggle to survive), national shame/embarrassment (slashed ego), and sudden influx of out-side cultures (dilution of communal spirit).

Russia, suffering many social/economic issues, is a prime candidate for nationalism. And with the three social fertilizers mentioned above, their current instance of nationalism is likely to be a great thorn in their future.

Putin’s efforts to cover up the errors of Russia’s past foster this national pride. It isn’t even that I blame the Russians for adding to the great collection of human faux pas to which every nation in al of history has contributed. However, by allowing these delusions, although it relieves the ego of an entire nation, will eventually fertilize a world view which simply repeats the past instead of learning from it. Russia may very well regain super-power status. However, they must keep in mind that although nationalism can motivate the arm, man still must swing the hammer and labor toward stability. Pulling triggers will do nothing to make their great nation respectable, financially sound, let alone trusted.

An Abused Africa

From an ethical standpoint, the world’s most powerful countries have a responsibility to Africa to assist in the many issues going on there. The direct and indirect evidence of the destabilization of African governments by outside governments, in a variety of ways, in order to plunder the natual resources and place their businesses is widespread. Recently, Africa’s situation has gone from bad to worse as the leaders that once promised to make things different are now the problem themselves. As the leaders settle in to power and realize how ingrained the world’s grip is on the leash around Africa’a throat, they loose their idealism, they become the thing they once hated.
Unfortunately, few outsiders care, and why would they as their lifestyles, in many cases, are carried by the resources and labors of Africa. Africans are going to have to band together and take responsibility for themselves. Once upon a time, Africa was a symbol of strength and freedom that inspired America’s black population to know that they were more than they believed they could be. Now, it is time for the little brother to lead – now it is time for Africa to look at what’s happenning in African-American communities where the people are learning that they themselves have become their own worst enemy. They are learning to stop the in-fighting, to band together, and to take back their communities. Africa can get out from under the weight of the world, but it must do it as a whole – and right or wrong, it will likely have to do it by itself.

Ethics & Rights to Land & Power

Oh, the age old battle.

In any fair competition (sports, literary awards, even college scholarships), the natural superiority of a few contenders tends to sweep up all the awards for select few. A new champion usually only comes along when the former is too old, too tired, or just not interested anymore. Now what if that skill set which made them the best were transferable. What if Micheal Jordan for example could have passed on ALL of his sports skill to a child. Jordan and his lineage could have dominated basketball for decades. Would that be right, acceptable, moral? I don’t know. But the current social mindset is no.

I hate the gap between the rich and poor as much as the next. I was born into poverty, and continue to struggle even today for my own family. I am very unhappy about the gap and would love wealth to be more evenly dispersed. Brazil is struggling with the enormous gap between the wealthy and poor. Considering history through which this situation was created, I am sickened by humanities disregard and disrespect for others. Bolivia still suffers from the affects of theSpanish occupation with prejudice and economic abuses against the indigenous peoples. The gaps between the wealthy or powerful and the poor or bound are amazingly sad.

However, I am convinced that all of us are the same in our tendency to grab what we can in life and hold on to it at all costs. I make $200 a week and struggle to run my family of 4. I don’t donate to charities or hand out twenties to the local bums. In my head, I can’t afford it, and I justify my greed with the knowledge that many others have more than me. I’m willing to help my peer, to whom I can relate, but I tend to look at the bum as being bad off because of his own life decisions.

The Spanish claiming rule in Bolivia, and the wealthy claiming land in Brazil are both examples of people simply trying to better their own lives. They too are just grabbing what they can and clinging to it. Does it make it fair? No. Does it make it kind? No. Does it make it ethical? Yes. It is ethical topursue gains at the expense of others. It is ethical to try your best to win a championship and hope the opponent fails. Again, it isn’t kind or fair to humanity at large, but it is not morally evil. I tend to side with Evo and the citizens of Bolivia against the american corporations that maintain so much power there. The idea being that they have rights because they own their own country and american corps already have a home. What, though, if we suspend all political boundaries and simply consider that humans are making claims in a geographical globe. Then who has the rights. The corps are then just the best competitors in the league.

This is the ethical dilemma of the police forces and judicial systems of Brazil as they try to mediate between the rich owner and the squatters claiming use of his land. These people say the land should be for all, that his family came to own the lands illegally. Illegal action is unethical, but the ethics of our fathers don’t get passed down to us they way land is. Is that the way it should be? I’m not sure. Maybe if land can be inherited so should punishments for unethical deeds of our fathers. Maybe it is reasonable to be held accountable for the actions of ourpredecessors.

Nonetheless, having never inherited a thing in my life, nor am I ever likely to, I tend to say that the wealthy or politically powerful should have limitations on how they pass on those benefits. But is that perspective too, just my own way of justifying apursuit of their possessions because I want them for myself?

The Sex Workers of India

FRONTLINE/WORLD . INDIA – The Sex Workers

Urbanization is so often hawked as something akin to a savior. Is it really that great a trend? Some religions preach the evils of urbanization for how it secularizes their cultures, but is that all there is?

Leaving the religious aside, urbanization has other, often unstated affects.

Because urbanization makes commerce, land use, and resource use more efficient, we value it as a contribution to society. But with urbanization comes expanded expectations. All the saved resources get put into bigger projects, raising demand. Efficient use of land means dropped land values outside the urbanized regions. And the fiscal excess of commercial efficiency simply fills the pockets of CEOs and governments. If commercial efficiency meant that employees were paid more or resources where actually used less, then urbanization has its benefits, but that isn’t what happens in practice.

India is the epitome of this phenomenon. Because of preexisting social class systems and farm subsidizing, the urban growth only broadens the gaps between classes and weakens the bridges over which money flows out of the cities.

It is much like the birth of our country. Growth benefited only those on top, abused the native cultures and peoples, squandered resource, and created a “civilized” society.

I like the old, ancient ways. If you wanted to disrespect someone, destroy their worth, or to use all of the local resources, you did so with an angry brow, a weapon, and laughter in your wake. The modern “civil” style is passive aggressive in nature, masked behind “good intensions,” and systematically passes power only to a few.

If the sex workers in India were respected for working in one of mankind’s oldest professions, regulation and education could root out many of its flaws. But even in our country it is considered an “uncivilized” profession. Why can’t we be modern without being “civil?” Why can’t we accommodate a profession we will never be able to, and most people will never want to, remove from society. The abuse of woman is in the disrespect with which the sex acts are performed. But, with all my sexual relations as testament, great sex can still be respectful. The profession could have dignity and safety if only it were respected.

Jerusalem

I see three approaches to world order that seem to be at odds with eachother.

One World Government or Even & Shared Distribution of Power or Self-serving Force of Will.

The default human approach to power is the self-serving force of will. It’s the source for authoritarianism, colonialism, monarchies, and monopolies. It is the style you never have to teach because it is animal nature. Through the ages this is how man ruled. I look out for myself and those that serve me best. It is the structure of the base family unit, of business, and of personal value systems. On the governmental level it is now criticized by the spirit of democracy.

Even & shared distribution of power was the organizing attempt by the US founders. It’s the source for democratic states and elected counsels of all sorts. This is the currently respected style. The problem with this style is that it runs against human nature. Militaries world-wide know this and would laugh at the idea of a election based hierarchy. There would be too much contention within the ranks. Affective military is dependent on blind and mindless obedience. Because of this no pure democracy can exist. We suffer lobbiests in Washington, and the UN has no real power.

In time all equal states fight amongst themselves and a larger umbrella organization is asked for to stop the feuding. The trend continues with the United Nations. The United Nations attempts to exert authority, but power is only held by two methods: respect or force. Respect is fickle though, and so the United Nation’s power comes and goes. And most, as well as myself, fear the UN having power from military force.

So history leads us here. I believe 3rd-party involvement is the only solution to the Palestinian/Isreali conflicts. I think Jerusalam should become a World City, not owned by any one political power. But to execute that plan requires a world government stepping in and claiming authority over all states. The US is already accused of trying to be this and is hated for it.

The only other solution is to actually stop the bigger-to-bigger government cycle and grant eachother pure freedom. What this means however is that we cannot express economic, political, or otherwise social biases against any one country. We would have to stop sanctioning some sides and not others. The Palestine and Isrealis would have to be left alone. All ‘terrorist palestinian’ labels would have to be dropped as well as all ‘poor abuse jews’ labels.

I believed the conflit will always be fueled in a world of half-commited aide. As the world is not ready trust a single, powerful world government (myself included), we need to stop ALL meddling and bias based aide.

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When does understanding become relatedness?

I find relative uniformity in
viewpoints on the topic of Americans’ knowledge of geography. Everyone agrees that “we” know too little about geography. Also, it seems that everyone agrees that
geography is not being taught well enough. The discussions seem to go
back and forth about who should do the teaching. I haven’t seen any discussion about how we learn geography.

Academia offers us, starting in our youths, an enormous collection of
information. Most of this data is learned through memorization which is
perceived in a theoretical mindset. Very few subjects are actualized. For example, word problems in math are most students biggest difficulty.

Let me make the distinction this way. You may inform me that your
dog has died and that you feel extremely distraught over the loss. I
have never felt any affection for an animal in my entire life, so I
have never experienced this loss. Now. I understand
and believe you when you describe your pain. I can comprehend your pain
in a theoretical way by superimposing suffering from my past onto the
image I have of your situation, but all this understanding does not
mean I’m able to relate.

Ultimately, I think it isn’t knowledge “we” are missing but the ability to relate to other cultures.

Now consider this. Even if the best teacher, the best parent, the best
self-taught high-achiever is involved, how well do you think the
student will be able to relate to geography without real, not textbook
induced, exposure. And without relatedness, how well do you think the
student will be able to use that information in life (when voting
on foreign affairs decisions, meeting a foreign individual, or answering a
question on a game show).

The problem does not lie in our education, we have too high a dependency on school learning already, but lies in the fact that “we”
have too little exposure to real multi-culturalism (and I’m not talking
about the elementary school kids doing an americanized version of an
african dance in the cafeteria or eating Chinese food from the local China Express). In Europe, the countries are the size
of our states, and they are across a lake from Africa. Most highly
civilized countries get our culture
pumped into their lives through Internet, radio, television, and, most
importantly, by our businesses stomping commercial footprints
everywhere.

They know our culture, less because they read about it in their
textbooks, but because we have thrown our culture into there physical
landscapes.

Simply put, if you want to teach a child to value geography, then
the only way to really do that is to buy some tickets and teleport
yourselves into other realms and regions. Without that, all you can do
is hope you have instilled enough curiosity in them that they will
travel on their own later.