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: 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.