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‘The Power Of Living In Truth’ Jeffery D Sachs December 22, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in ethics, human quality, real power.
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I really like the whole message that Prof Sachs has written and posted online.  Though there is Law in place, the justice is never really quite done. But I suppose where there is darkness, there is also light. Where it will cast a shadow to those who are hideous. I don’t think I need to add anything more but I will quote from this site :

 

NEW YORK – The world’s greatest shortage is not of oil, clean water, or food, but of moral leadership. With a commitment to truth – scientific, ethical, and personal – a society can overcome the many crises of poverty, disease, hunger, and instability that confront us. Yet power abhors truth, and battles it relentlessly. So let us pause to express gratitude to Václav Havel, who died this month, for enabling a generation to gain the chance to live in truth.

Havel was a pivotal leader of the revolutionary movements that culminated in freedom in Eastern Europe and the end, 20 years ago this month, of the Soviet Union. Havel’s plays, essays, and letters described the moral struggle of living honestly under Eastern Europe’s Communist dictatorships. He risked everything to live in truth, as he called it – honest to himself and heroically honest to the authoritarian power that repressed his society and crushed the freedoms of hundreds of millions.

He paid dearly for this choice, spending several years in prison and many more under surveillance, harassment, and censorship of his writings. Yet the glow of truth spread. Havel gave hope, courage, and even fearlessness to a generation of his compatriots. When the web of lies collapsed in November 1989, hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks poured into the streets to proclaim their freedom  – and to sweep the banished and jailed playwright into Prague Castle as Czechoslovakia’s newly elected president.

I personally witnessed the power of living in truth in that year, when the leadership of Poland’s Solidarity movement asked me to help Poland with its transition to democracy and a market economy – part of what the Poles called their “return to Europe.” I met and was profoundly inspired by many in the region who, like Havel, lived in truth: Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuron, Bronislaw Geremek, Gregorsz Lindenberg, Jan Smolar, Irena Grosfeld, and, of course, Lech Walesa. These brave men and women, and those like Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Leszek Balcerowicz, who led Poland during its first steps in freedom, succeeded through their combination of courage, intellect, and integrity.

The power of truth-telling that year created a dazzling sense of possibility, for it proved the undoing of one of history’s most recalcitrant hegemonies: Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Michnik, like Havel, radiated the joy of fearless truth. I asked him in July 1989, as Poland’s communist regime was already unraveling, when freedom would reach Prague. He replied, “By the end of the year.”

“How do you know?” I asked. “I was just with Havel in the mountains last week,” he said. “Have no fear. Freedom is on the way.”  His forecast was correct, of course, with a month to spare.

Just as lies and corruption are contagious, so, too, moral truth and bravery spreads from one champion to another. Havel and Michnik could succeed in part because of the miracle of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who emerged from a poisoned system, yet who valued truth above force. And Gorbachev could triumph in part because of the sheer power of honesty of his countryman, Andrei Sakharov, the great and fearless nuclear physicist who also risked all to speak truth in the very heart of the Soviet empire – and who paid for it with years of internal exile.

These pillars of moral leadership typically drew upon still other examples, including that of Mahatma Gandhi, who called his autobiography The Story of My Experiments With Truth. They all believed that truth, both scientific and moral, could ultimately prevail against any phalanx of lies and power. Many died in the service of that belief; all of us alive today reap the benefits of their faith in the power of truth in action.

Havel’s life is a reminder of the miracles that such a credo can bring about; yet it is also a reminder of the more somber fact that truth’s victories are never definitive. Each generation must adapt its moral foundations to the ever-changing conditions of politics, culture, society, and technology.

Havel’s death comes at a time of massive demonstrations in Russia to protest ballot fraud; violence in Egypt as democratic activists battle the deeply entrenched military; an uprising in rural China against corrupt local officials; and police in body armor violently dismantling the Occupy protest sites in American cities. Power and truth remain locked in combat around the world.

Much of today’s struggle – everywhere – pits truth against greed. Even if our challenges are different from those faced by Havel, the importance of living in truth has not changed.

Today’s reality is of a world in which wealth translates into power, and power is abused in order to augment personal wealth, at the expense of the poor and the natural environment. As those in power destroy the environment, launch wars on false pretexts, foment social unrest, and ignore the plight of the poor, they seem unaware that they and their children will also pay a heavy price.

Moral leaders nowadays should build on the foundations laid by Havel. Many people, of course, now despair about the possibilities for constructive change. Yet the battles that we face – against powerful corporate lobbies, relentless public-relations spin, and our governments’ incessant lies – are a shadow of what Havel, Michnik, Sakharov, and others faced when taking on brutal Soviet-backed regimes.

In contrast to these titans of dissent, we are empowered with the instruments of social media to spread the word, overcome isolation, and mobilize millions in support of reform and renewal. Many of us enjoy minimum protections of speech and assembly, though these are inevitably hard won, imperfect, and fragile. Yet, of the profoundest importance and benefit, we are also blessed with the enduring inspiration of Havel’s life in truth.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.
http://www.project-syndicate.org

Prime and Prejudice August 4, 2010

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, life challenges.
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[pic source & quote: blogoscoped.com]

Discrimination has always been existing for centuries. It has never really disappeared despite the years of campaigning and it will probably never be totally eradicated as long as we have this idea to differentiate ourselves from the pack. Being ‘prime’ has a kind of thinking that we are always better than the rest adds to the prejudice equation. Think about it, almost everywhere there are preferences over one group of people from another. Various kinds of discrimination have also been around. Where there is a dominant race, there is usually a feel of inferiority felt by other minorities. The larger population usually overpowers.

Even within people, people tend to group and have peers. Not that we cannot have cliques. We do need private space of our own. But the real problem arises when one starts to use class/family/group/associations/et cetra to classify and oust out people who are out because they are different. Be it personal preference/national preference/international preference, I always think that as long as we have any of such preferences, we’ll never really break the visicious cycle of inequality. When prejudice sets in, people are usually blind about the potential dangers of disharmony that may arise from such forms of discrimination. People tend to take in information that soothes their senses and ignore / discard the other noise about the intrinsic risks from forming classes. That is often the poison to good living and a real obstacle in keeping prosperity. It is simply unsustainable when people start to form enclaves. In fact it is dangerous.

Per chance we need to ask ourselves, how much discrimination we have been practicising daily: when something looks different to ours; when we do not like the intimidation of others; or when it looks like our status or interests are threatened. The social ostracisation to name the odd one out as ‘others’ would always be in existence as long as we fail to make radical changes about how we view other fellows who are different from us.

But life has its strange ways of handling such unfairness. So as long as you work honestly with a passion; somewhat the prejudice will gradually disappear in appearence. The answer to this kind of problem? Adaptation and perseverence. But the pending price for tolerating such inequality itself is unhealthy. It forms another form of distrust and encourages the defending party to form their own class too. So why should we allow it? — Karen Fu

Ah, we are from the Planet C. Why Are We So Complex In Mind ? July 26, 2010

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change.
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Pic source: //img0.liveinternet.ru

@GreatestQuotes: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Albert Einstein

Just retweeted it. Thought I add a few thoughts about the perplex layers of the human mind. We’ve come across great men and women whose paths have been obstructed because they have been different. Einstein was not alone. Together with many other great minds in innovation and invention, politics and literature; thinking different often means opposition. And its true even today when we are supposed to fully evolved and morphed into this new kind of cacoon which it should be born a free and beautiful butterfly.

The type of butterfly that is supposed to be from the new age, new born, new minds that are big and open.

But are we?

Everyday we could read from our papers (doesn’t matter where the heck you are on this little blue planet of ours) there must be some kind of fights: from domestic violence to national disputes; from toilet politics to international politics; from simple words of simple thoughts blown out disproportinately into complex thought & fights. Some people appear to be able to just find fault in some people somehow. I often think we are all weird speices of the strangest kind. First off,  we could see the bad in others. Next off, most of us fail to see the good in others and third off, we can’t see the bad in us. Well maybe we do. Just that we forget all about it very soon after.

I think this is negativity in the worst form. Its venom seeps into the mind in making it far more complex than it really should be.Ever wondered why  the crazy human mind has rarely evolved beyond being genuinely nice?  And why there must be shades of grey in every kind of human relationship?  I believe most of it comes from self defense – the kind of defense that links to the way one feels that they might be walked over, and hence must do a plot or a con in self defense, often in the name of ‘survival’.

I think that is an excuse.

And we need to requestion about what is real ‘survial’.

‘Survival’ actually really means to allow what is good for us to prevail. Great minds and ideas to flourish. Not there because of certain hidden interest.

Societal problems, like different kinds of discrimination, has never really eluded us. Most of the time, it has been haunting us. Kingdoms have formed and take over the weaker races / dynasties to create a variety of social classes. Its how one forms power. It has always been happening and I’m afraid it will continue to happen. In the many books I’ve come across, people do take sides. And often at a discriminative account. History has never been really fair in making 100% truthful accounts.Then again, history is written by us — human beings.

For as long as the idea comes from a human being, I supposed it will not be 100% fair. It’ll most likely be from Plant C (Complexity) where simple issues would be wired from one to another; into several volumes of history, rarely wanting to look just simple and clear.Which really would be the ultimate form of sustainable survival. Agree?

PS: CHANGE is actually about facing  reality. To deliver the truth and admit flaws would be the real guarantee for the future.