Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Religion, hatred and individuality

It is hard to resist writing about the current uprising to the movie about Islam. Religion has been a breeding ground for war as far back as I know. The one item that is always being missed here is the foundations of most religions is peace, so why so much violence? We are dealing with people that have a great deal of anger within them. No matter what religion these people who kill in the name of God follow, they are first and foremost violent people.
One of the most difficult facets of life for all people is the reality that each of us has the capacity to think and do whatever each of us wants to do. Most of us abide by laws and respect other cultures/religion. We act with this respect towards each other because we choose a peaceful life full of enjoyment. However, there are some of us that live with differing realities and some destroy peace.  
On the topic of religion, I follow a religion that has the same roots as Islam. Within those roots are the Ten Commandments. One of those Commandments is to not praise false Gods. Well money certainly has done that and to some degree so has patriotism. To some degree a portrait, cartoon or movie can be interpreted as a false image. There is another piece that I have learned and that is people who are not part of my religion do not have to follow its rules.
There seems to be a global manifest destiny project going one here. There is only one way, religion, mindset, governance model or path to peace/heaven. To be honest, I am not sure which way is the right way. I do know that I will always act peacefully and respectfully to everyone I encounter, no matter if they think I am going to hell or not.
This entire situation of Islamic rioting and killing is pure insanity in my opinion, it is not the Islam I trust and support. In correlation, the current fighting in Syria is not a representation of the Syrian people I trust and support. For the most part, the people of this world are wonderfully welcoming and peaceful.
Although, we are experiencing tough circumstances in both economics and politics globally. These two components have pushed people to act in desperation. This desperation is due mostly to the severe lack of solid leadership around the world. We have been adrift for decades without strong visionaries of peace, wisdom and equality.
We must demand more of our leaders, more importantly of ourselves. The new world we are making is making neighbours of us all. A single act of hatred is the frontline of every war we have ever fought and ever will fight. We do not have to convince others to change religions, countries or governance styles but, we must act in such a manner where violence and hatred are only thoughts that we experience with extreme rarity of physical experience.
Some day we may live in such a world, we have made great strides towards that day in the past sixty years. We have more to go. I will work my hardest to reach that day. Until then, I am sorry for each person who must act with violence and hatred to prove a point or try to change my mind.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cyber crime, technology and peace

In many ways we have made the world more peaceful than it has ever been for as long as most of us can recall. With that advent of peace, we have a population which we never had before either.  Couple the large population with the spread of information we know have. Ever since the invention of wireless communication in 1901, information has spread across the globe almost instantly. We have greater numbers of people and more information which makes the perception of a violent world more real.
Cyber crime has been reported to have happened to 86% of Canadians. These are crimes of phishing scams through the use of social media, email, electronic hacking, credit card fraud, etc…  Each crime is reported on average to cost $160.00. It turns out that “catching a virus” is part of that static. In the most basic terminology a virus was created to cause harm or at least a disturbance. In this regard has cyber crime lowered the amount of peace we experience?
It is rather annoying and can be devastating when your computer/devices crash. Most of us are aware of the risks though. We are aware that the internet is full of scammers, so is society. This why we see ads for lawyers, mechanics, moving companies, contractors and many other professions loudly state you can trust them. There is a growing desire for professional organizations to have members take oaths. Trust has been the main platform of every politician that seeks office.
Has technology lowered the amount of peace we experience? That question is very complex when you dig deeply into our world. Rates of obesity have increased which has brought untold health issues, highly processed foods and of course we have to list the impact of industry and perhaps climate change as well. Very soon the mind can get paralysed with anxiety as the entire picture of reality comes into focus.
As a holistic mindset takes shape, it should be clear the issue is not technology, it is us the people. How we interact with each other is the common denominator. It is as basic as two people starting out in a relationship, do you trust that person to hold your interests equally as they do their own or do you feel that they will cause harm to your heart? How much do you trust?
Further to trust, how much do you believe in the peacefulness of others? That is the old question “are people born good or evil”? These are questions that everyone must decide themselves, have their own answers/reasons. For me, although I have had my heart torn to shreds many times, I still believe that everyone is here to help me reach my dreams. Those that have caused harm have only told me that I am on the wrong path.
How much do you trust technology? Advancements are part of life for us. The wheel itself has been and continues to be a vital component to many great destructive acts yet we do not chastise that invention. Technology is a tool which we use that has differing outcomes. Many outcomes we have no clue what the impact will be. Just like entering in a relationship, you have no clue what will become of it, sometimes you wish you never even went down that path. Just ask the people of Japan and their experience with atomic energy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Canada has made a mistake

Being a peaceful person is not an easy path. Often you get labelled as being soft, weak or not understanding the reality of the world. Such has been the label I have encountered these past few weeks, while talking about the manner in which the Canadian Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister have been conducting themselves. In particular the closing of the Iranian Embassy, strongly backing Israel, complaining about the United Nations, telling Russia how they should act in regards to their Middle East policy and the situation in Syria.
Within these events the Prime Minister of Canada is being awarded a Statesman of the Year award. Now it so happens that on that very day, the Prime Minister of Canada has decided to snub the United Nations. It seems a bit ironic that someone would receive such an award while actively work to enrage Iran, Russia and the entire Arab region. A true statesman would be able to work more effectively and been seen as an asset to world peace rather than a thorn. The amount of damage this government has caused in the past month has certainly made every Canadians life that much more insecure. Even more so if a Canadian is working in the Middle East.
The closing of the embassy in Iran does have its merits. There is some truth that Iran has threatened Iranian-Canadians, has executed Iranian-Canadians and is known to support terrorism. The reality is that the RUSA has done the exact thing yet we still keep very strong ties with them. Of course we do not live in a world where equality based on law, reason and action is all that common.
A peaceful person would have sat down with the leaders of these countries and worked to solve problems. But that is usually laughed at with the reason being, “You can not talk to these people”. That is true, especially when you do not even want to. That stream of reason for not talking to the leaders becomes even more insane when put into the reality of how any peace agreement is made.
To get any peace agreement at all, at some point you have to talk to warlords. It has been my experience that a peace agreement is much easier if you are understood as a person that is willing to understand and work with the others ideology. At this time it must be understood that you can disagree with the methods a leader is using. What you can not do is break off communication, no matter how frustrated you get. Without face to face discussions, peace is nearly impossible and often chaos results.
There is also an element of trust that has to be addressed. There are very few countries I trust to act with Canada’s interest in mind. In, turn that leads to the security threat to our country as well. That is a very disheartening situation to live with but that is the reality. I would rather live within a reality where I can trust others to act peacefully so that I am not constantly being on guard, alas violence is an option used quickly and too often.
Looking at the closing of our embassy in Iran is understandable yet I do not agree with such tactics. Again I know that it sounds terrible but peace is only made through great efforts and at some point you must work with the worst people imaginable to secure peace.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weight of Reason

In the past year we have seen the hope and wonderful energy of the Jasmine Revolution as it spawned into the Arab Spring. That energy has now been spent yet the work to build the vision that once thrived is still needed. Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Egypt are still engulfed in unknown circumstances as each country is in a different state heading towards chaos. How will all of this end up?
No one has a clear vision of what will be the ultimate outcome. There will be more violence, more death and more political speeches/scolding from all sides. The rhetoric coming from all sides while the average person pays the ultimate price is just stupid. One of the worst casualties has been the loss of the reasonable voice and the largest criminals are those that are entrusted to hold the peace, the Permanent Five(P5) members of the United Nations Security Council (RUSA, China, UK, France and Russia).
The violence in Libya and Egypt may not have been preventable but what is taking place in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain certainly could have been averted. It would have been a difficult task yet it was possible. However we sat back and allowed the fight to grow and here we are on the edge of complete collapse for many families, societies, and governments.
Somehow Yemen and Bahrain have been able to keep a tight hold of information getting out to the mainstream media (so much for social media hype). If we are to believe the rhetoric which speaks to the desire to end the violence we must take a serious look at how we deal with such situations. Once again I must advocate for the complete demilitarization of the Middle East. If not the entire region then let us have the courage to start with Syria.
The argument that bringing in United Nations Peacekeeper’s (UNPK) is an act that breaks sovereignty is one that I have recently found as very weak. An invasion of foreign forces that breaks sovereignty is one that usurps all laws and constitutional rights of the people, like what is happening in Iraq.  UNPK’s are bound to abide by and assist in enforcing existing laws within a country of operation. They are there to bolster the ability of a battered government to hold peace and sovereignty not break or destroy it.
Now it is a lamentable fact but putting UNPK’s in Yemen or Bahrain will provide little stability within the Middle East. Putting them in Syria however would, if only to patrol and lock down the boarders. If that is the least mandated effort then we can let the fight play out and finish as fast as possible. If that sounds too harsh, understand that the number of lives lost will be greatly reduced and humanitarian aid will be administered quicker.  I understand that human rights violations will take place but that is going on right now anyway. Basically all I am putting to you is the reality of reason, if you want to fight, fight, but leave those alone that want no part of it other than for the end to arrive as soon as possible.
We need to stand up and start speaking truth to power here. Someone has to bring the weight of reason to the P5 as they are equal in responsibility for weaponizing  the region, assisting in its instability and then having the audacity to say they have had no hand in doing so. Has anyone heard of proxy wars, Syria is just that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cost of social media

I have and still do a great deal of backpacking. Not the kind where you travel on buses and sleep in hostels but the kind where you walk, climb and live in forests, mountains and be as remote as a person can get. Due to these activities I know what it takes to pack all your needs for weeks at a time into a single pack. I know that one litre of fuel will cook two meals a day for two weeks at the most, depending on altitude. When I learned that a single internet search uses the equivalent energy as boiling two cups of water my brain started to spin concerning the topic of externalities of cost.

Externalities of cost deals with the hidden impacts of the economy, factory farms were my first introduction to this issue back in 2005 with this cartoon:

From then on I began to look at the connections to how we live and the impacts of those actions. One such item was the invention of the remote control, as I have mentioned in a previous posting. As time has gone by I have noticed the strong desire/pressure to be connected, which is to have some sort of technology turned on so that you can be a part of the world. The impact of all these devices is that we are using more energy than ever before to achieve similar results.

The reality of life remains that the most important communication style is in person. The comical reality is that we waste more energy on the less important technological connections. Factor in the wasteful use of energy to keep all these devices operating. Each internet search uses enough energy to boil two cups of water, how many internet searches does the average person make a day? To guess I would say enough to fill the average hot water tank. For all these devices to work we must constantly consume which is an oxymoron in the face of science which tells us to conserve. 

As you may have guesses I am not a strong believer in social media . I see the use of such devices being overhyped. Moreover, I see those that are addicted to these devices as being brainwashed and weak minded. These people have thwarted their own personal freedom without even knowing it. Even worse is that they are wasting more energy than ever before. We were sold these devices on the platform of convenience and emergency services. Those platforms still hold true but there is a large snake oil sales pitch held within those platforms. “A standardized machine/technology degrades the craftsman more and more to a person who fulfills a purely repetitive routine.[1]

The externality of social media has degraded information sharing to the point where we must sift through a mountain of garbage to find the slightest of wisdom. Add to this the judgemental mindset that has evolved which states that a person who is not connected is out of touch.  Truly, the medium is the message and we are losing the message under a pile of useless information being broadcast in social media.

[1] Laski, Harold J. The Dangers of Obedience. Harper & Row, 1930. Pg. 26.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Peace is a long term work effort

Working to bring peace to society is oddly met with a great deal of struggle. Basically we all have our own plan to achieve the goal of peace and that in its self creates friction. Even within societies that are deemed peaceful there is usually a built in political mechanism to cause fractionalization or opposition. In Canada there exists the Clarity Act which outlines the process for the breakup of the country/ a province to separate. As we search for the desired goal of a peaceful society, what we really are building is a trusting, predictable process/order to resolve questions and issues.
Working in conflict areas, violence is the main method used to resolve most issues. This culture of violence builds a dangerous pattern within society as it filters into the minds of the youth. After years of violent chaos the youth learn that this is the normal way to live. It builds distrust within their minds towards every new person they meet because at some point there will be a violent battle which often ends in death. Now as years pass and education about the reality of their culture is taught small victories are made.
These small victories are paramount to building a peaceful society. These small victories often go unnoticed and are lost due to the short sightedness of many world leaders. We see this short sightedness in every peace mission undertaken by the United Nations Security Council.  Missions are given six month rotation periods. Success is measured in how fast a war can end. What is not realized is that peace takes moments to destroy and centuries to rebuild. For example, World War II is said to have last from 1939- 1945, yet Canada had a military presence in Germany up to 1992. If Canada took that long term vision and applied it to Afghanistan we would be looking at an end date of about 2055. Libya would be 2063. These dates seem more realistic to me than the ten years plans in place today.
If such a concept was ever discussed with a politician (as I have done) it is met with laughter and complete refusal that such a time frame is needed. However, the reality proves that such a long term time frame is in fact the case. Serra Leone and Liberia for example are only now making larger steps towards peace after twenty years of civil war and still these countries are in deep need of peace assistance.
As societies come out of violent conflicts we must nurture the path so that systems can be taught, trusted, entrenched in culture. The larger society must have a belief that issues will be dealt with in a predictable manner other than violence. Opposition is part of life and we must build methods to release the pressure when the conflict escalates. Building peaceful societies does not mean we no longer have conflict, it means that we no longer have a need for violent reactions. Also we must understand that the desire for violence will always be with us, just watch a hockey game and that reality will be evident within seconds. The difference is how we manage ourselves to contain and find order so that the violence does not over take the larger realm of society/game. The same goes for politics in every society around the world.