Random observations, thoughts and ideas about art, travel, environment, politics, humanity. Named after one of my blogs, UnMind.net.
Here is a great inspiring TED talk by Bryan Stevenson, a human rights lawyer about the criminal justice system in the US and the need for us all to get to that “orientation of the spirit” so we care, have compassion, and do something about the injustice and sufferings of the un- and under- privileged in our communities and ultimately in our world. I think everything should listen, take it to heart and act on it. Here are a few excerpts:
“This country is very different today than it was 40 years ago. In 1972 there were 300,000 people in jails and prisons. Today, there are 2.3 million. US now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We have 7 million people on probation and parole…One out of three black men between the ages of 18 and 30 is in jail, in prison, on probation or parole. In urban communities across this country — LA, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington — 50 to 60 percent of all men of color are in jail or prison, on probation or parole.”
“There is no disconnect around technology and design that will allow us to be fully human until we pay attention to suffering, to poverty, to exclusion, to unfairness, to injustice. Now I will warn you that this kind of identity is a much more challenging identity than ones that don’t pay attention to this. It will get you.”
“…the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. That we cannot be full evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity. That all of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone. That our visions of technology and design and entertainment and creativity have to be married with visions of humanity, compassion and justice. And more than anything, for those of you who share that, I’ve simply come to tell you to keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.”
I came across this short but precious New York Times opinion piece, “What Two Enemies Share“ by the Iranian-Jewish author, Roya Hakakian, about the history of Jews in Iran and the cultural and historical ties between Iran & Israel. It is a must read for all those on both sides. It is her answer to the question that whose side will she be on if a war breaks out between Iran and Israel. Here is an excerpt:
“By bombing Iran, Israel would be bombing a portion of Jewish history. If that happens, which side I would choose will not be a question. I will be twice destroyed by the two imperfect yet beloved cultures that each make up half of the woman I am.”
Early in January 2012 President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, a $662 B military spending bill, which under the excuse of fight against terrorism empowers the US military to arrest any US citizen even in US without trial and detain indefinitely. DemocracyNow sums it up nicely. Forbes in this piece by Erik Kain has more detailed discussion of it, the history of anti-terrorism and how dangerous it is for our civil liberties. According to Forbes, Obama is quoted saying:
The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it…I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.
Really? Why in the world did he sign it then?!! Obviously he thinks it was wrong. But somehow he succumbed to other powers and influencers. Is he being manipulated? Is he afraid? Is this for the sake of upcoming elections? Whatever the reason, signing this into law was wrong.
The Forbes article also talks about the fact that “you can wage a war on an idea”. Unlike say cold war which was against the now defunct USSR, terrorism is not a state or a people, but rather a form. The piece also looks at option on how people can fight against this law.
This TED talk by Richard Wilkinson, a public health researcher, co-author of The Spirit Level, and co-founder of The Equality Trust, a non-profit aiming to reduce income inequality, provides compelling research data on how income inequality within advanced and democratic countries such as USA damage societies along many dimensions:
On each of these social attributes, countries with more income inequality (e.g. USA, UK, Portugal) do worse than those with less income inequality (e.g. Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Sweden, and Japan).
Sadly, USA scores worst time and again on most of the items above. In fact US is often off the chart compared to other countries! As Wilkinson says, “if Americans want to live the American dream, they should go to Denmark!” It is a 15 minute must-see talk.