Learning and Reading: A 21st Century Offense

knowledgeWith many losing their jobs worldwide, it appears as though a favorite past time, rather a way of life will too be in jeopardy. People just don’t read anymore; at least they don’t read for the purpose of learning  nor to edify themselves. Society has become complacent and technology has created a generation of lazy individuals who are not motivated to study and/or read. Everyone wants the quick fix. Many are not willing to work hard to go after dreams and worse yet, it appears now, that people have lost the desire to learn.

Gone are the days when kids were thrilled to talk about what they learnt at school on any given day. Television and other forms of mainstream technology have now taken the place of education. The result is a society that merely waits on information to be fed to it and one in which independent thought is on the decline. No longer are people invested in fact finding. Reading, and research are now passe; an unfortunate reality, especially when technology could be used to broaden everyone’s knowledge base.

Call me old school, but I still very much subscribe to the view that knowledge is power. I am by no means suggesting that society take a regressive step and become Luddites. That is neither feasible nor wise. However, a balance needs to be struck. Technology should complement one’s life not control it. Society needs to get back to the basics, back to learning, back to reading. Embrace the weapon that is the mind. Read! Be actively engaged in learning how to do new things! Remember that it was only through study, and reading, learning and experimentation, that technology as we know it came to exist. It is time to embrace activities and mindsets of the past and stop promoting the view (even if inadvertently so) that learning and reading are this generations’ offenses, for certainly the only real offense in such a context is that of a wasted mind.

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Diplomacy- A staple of life

ImageDiplomacy is an integral part of life. Over the years diplomacy has had to evolve to suit the realities of the world within which it operates. Often times, diplomacy is still perceived as an instrument of the state vis a vis the military but diplomacy is needed in every aspect of society, from the household to the community to the wider society- including the political and legal systems inter alia, and then  to the global society. Individuals from different backgrounds, cultures and states often use diplomacy in their dealings. Local, regional and international businesses and certainly states at the international and regional level also depend on diplomacy.

Diplomacy need not be viewed as a loaded concept and a phenomenon which ought to be confined to a particular arena. In simple terms, diplomacy in the 21st Century is concerned with managing relations while problem solving. An important element of managing relations is dialogue. Only when individuals can come together and share their views and thought processes, only when all parties have been heard, or believe that they have been heard, can problems be solved. Many problems seem to manifest because there are groups, sects, countries, people, who all believe that their voices are being ignored and against such a background they may choose alternative means of voicing their concerns or disapproval over matters of  domestic and global concern.

Wherever there exists two or more people who are unable to see eye to eye on issues, diplomacy has a role. This may be at church, in  community groups, corporations, or government. In essence, diplomacy is needed in every sphere of life. HR departments therefore need to recognize the utility of having someone trained in diplomacy to serve in that capacity. PR departments too need to understand that at the very core of diplomacy is managing image, this is why dialogue is promoted, for there are certain civilizing virtues  which are embedded in diplomacy. Those trained in diplomacy specialize in communication. They know how to say what needs to be said without causing unnecessary offense. Diplomats and those with diplomatic training know how to use language to quell situations and how to foster dialogue so as to generate solutions. Such a skill is needed in a growing society where  times are difficult, problems are many and complex,  the economic situation is uncertain and many feel alienated by government, corporations, family, fellow citizens, among others. In times like these, society needs diplomacy  to manage relations, balance interests and ultimately find solutions in a world where everyone is aggrieved and seeks to have their voices heard.

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Stamp Out The “Bad” Domestic Violence

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Recently, in my homeland Barbados, there has been a mass appeal to end domestic violence. While I applaud the various agencies, government ministers  and civil servants who are determined to stamp out this type of violence, I must say that there are some aspects of this campaign with which I have particular difficulties.  First, there is the universal assumption that domestic violence only pertains to violence directed towards females. I take issue with this. While as a female I could perhaps join the bandwagon and bash men, calling them dogs, referring to them as heartless beasts, it would not be fair, as I would have to accord similar adjectives to the females who subject the men in their lives to violent acts, whether of a physical, psychological or financial nature. As a society we need to remember that both males and females can be and are victims of domestic violence/abuse. Since in the Barbadian context, domestic abuse tends to be focused on the female as the victim, my other comments will look at women on the one hand and examine the current discourse in the Barbados Media.

ImageThe revived  advocacy to end domestic violence In Barbados occurs against a background of what appears to be some kind of record in Barbados, where a number of women have been murdered by their spouses, partners, ex-spouses, ex-partners. I get it! If ever so often women are being murdered by their current or previous partners, it presents a problem to society. In a small society one murder may be a one-time event, but when we get  to four and five murders  of the same kind, it is humanly impossible not to notice the trend. It is clear there is a problem and so the plan of action would be to eradicate this destructive behavior as quickly as possible. I therefore have no aversion to what appears to be a national campaign to end domestic violence.

The second issue I have pertains to the notion that the victim is somehow culpable. In perusing the social media feeds, and in listening to the conversations of others, I have heard that “some women push men to that point.” I have also read one status which essentially said that women need to learn to “keep their feet closed,” as though the violence is somehow warranted by virtue of her acts. If the society has this mindset, then we are wasting time in asking for an end to such violence. The campaign should not only be focused on ending the violence, rather there needs to be an entire re-socialization, an understanding that no matter what (even if there is such a legal defence as provocation) domestic abuse is not justified.

As it relates to the most recent case of domestic abuse in Barbados, the media has sought to highlight all of the victims for the entire year. My main issue with this is that for the past year, the media, government officials etc, have been speaking of domestic violence/ abuse as though it only exists where one partner suffers death. I understand that these deaths may want to be used as the faces of a campaign to end domestic violence but I think it sends the wrong message.

Yesterday morning while listening to the radio, an announcer gave the definition of domestic abuse/violence as act which eventually results in death. Tonight while watching the local  news, I received the impression that there is a level of urgency to deal with these situations, but again there seemed to be concern only about the deceased and not the ones living through it everyday. Please, do not in any way think of me as insensitive to the grieving families, but I have a problem with focusing solely on the part concerned with death. Such a focus seeks to lessen the impact  of the psychological beatings that one partner endures from another partner; it trivializes the physical beatings and injuries which do not cause death. Such conceptualizations of domestic abuse  suggest that there is good domestic violence and bad domestic violence. Such conceptualizations hurt our society, because they undermine the much needed re-socialization  process.

Our message should be clear. We need to reformat our minds, get a sound understanding of what constitutes domestic violence, subdue the inherent societal hypocrisy and view domestic abuse as completely  destructive, as opposed to implicitly or expressly accepting that there are gradations of domestic abuse.

If you we are going to stamp it out,  we need to make sure  that the  “stamp out” lasts.

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More Is Less and Less Isn’t Good Enough

Life is by no means easy, and often times it is far from fair. You go to church. You obeyed your parents when you were younger (even until now). You went to school and excelled. You even went to college and graduate school. But what have you to show for it. When you put in all of that hard work and there is no job, no real reward at the end, sometimes it makes the letters which come after your name seem so insignificant, the BA, BSc, MA, MSc, Phd…. mean nothing to you when you are unable to find suitable work.

Young and jobless is a universal plight. There are many in this world who know that feeling oh too well.The system is designed for you to to be jobless, food-less, homeless.

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In secondary/high school, you are advised to go to college because that’s how you get a job. After college, you apply to hundreds of places and are rejected, and if you do get a job, you very soon become frustrated because you feel undervalued, and you just want to work in the field that you studied in.You don’t get jobs because you are told you need an advanced university degree, more job experience. To remedy this you go to grad school and you get a Master degree. You think to yourself, this would make you more marketable. You volunteer along the way and you develop an impressive cv/resume. You are excited because you think,  now is the time!. It doesn’t happen quite like that.

 

It seems like the higher up the academic ladder you climb, the less likely you are to find suitable work. It appears as though employers become intimidated by your accomplishments. You don’t become their first choice because they are not keen to hire you as it means that you will more likely fall under a different pay grade; a higher pay grade. They come up with excuses like,  ‘you don’t have enough “relevant” experience’ The more honest prospective employers may simply say “I can’t afford to pay you,” and it is indeed sad.

Certainly the current global economic climate can be seen as a contributory factor to this reality. However, whether the global economy is in a recession or coming out of a recession, what rings true is that “more is less and less isn’t good enough.”

Image Obtained from-

http://udeozochibuzo.wordpress.com

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