“The contemplation of things as they are without error, confusion, substitution, or imposture is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.” – Francis Bacon, 1605. (Dorothea Lange pinned a printout of these words on her darkroom door in 1933.) This is Hong Kong just before the protests, before people gathered in the streets to protest curtailment of their human rights. Faces in the street show regret, innocence, aggravation, anger, fitness, anonymity, acceptance, contemplation, joy, isolation — as if everyone were pausing with deep glances with the knowledge the life they lead might end soon, ennobling an idea they no longer take for granted, i.e., their own freedom.
Protests are underway in Russia. Tens of thousands of people are out on the streets. Are the current violations of human rights in Russia on par with Soviet-era abuses of power and misrule? Is Alexey Navalny an earnest reformer or simply a rival of Putin seeking ever greater power? The following journalistic piece hints at Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” to shed light on Russia’s unrest.
Do those who live in a democratic state take their freedoms for granted? How does the behavior we exhibit when we travel outside our home country reflect national and cultural values? The following personal history piece is a sketch of life under two brutal dictatorships: François Duvalier (“Poppa Doc)” of Haiti and Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Vacationing here in 1961, the author narrowly avoided being shot. “A Tale of Two Dictatorships” records a one-day experience with two very strange American tourists. They should be a lesson on how not to behave abroad.
“The Ones Who are Left Behind: An Armenian Story” details the close relationship the author had with her great aunt (who witnessed the murder of her family), the author’s search for identity, and a reckoning with a brutal collective past. The essay explores how trauma can travel through generations as the author self-reflects on her struggle to harness her emotions to get better, not bitter. Nestled within this personal essay, there is a universal message of hope and healing from suffering and loss.
For a nine-year-old girl, it was incomprehensible to watch her father gather all his books to take them out of town to burn them secretly. Worried about her father being arrested by the new regime in Iran in 1981, young Shabnam had to let go of the books she had planned to learn from, one day when she grew up.
Universal Basic Income, Civil Libertarian Style? (Some Philosophical Musings To Inform Level-Headed Debate)
With the pandemic, financial collapse, and a desire for national stability, a concept like the universal basic income (UBI) is a valuable tool for people of all political ideologies to consider as we explore options for developing and maintaining national stability.
Leadership uses power and influence to affect societal change. While socialized power is used by elected officials to benefit the majority of the people, personalized power is used for personal gain. In general, power can encourage leaders to act with assertion and confidence to make decisions, but it can also encourage leaders to focus on their own egocentric desires the more they become “intoxicated” with it. Historically, many countries have seen dictators, tyrants, and totalitarian or authoritarian rulers. But what encourages some leaders to fall into this power-hunger behavior pattern while others do not?
Whenever we hear of genocides, they have either run their course or are in progress. In today’s world, we can receive so much news at once that any action seems inconsequential. However, solutions for genocide prevention at the government down to the individual level must be addressed. If we can push for thorough and unbiased education at the school level and universal accountability at the governmental level, we can prevent the spread of ignorance. In the end, it is important to share that genocide needs to be everyone’s problem, even if isn’t labelled as such.
How do governments, societal groups, and individuals respond to national and international crises? “And so I went to Peter’s well” is a polemic regarding the world water crisis, specifically the activities of the Nestlé Corporation and its continuous pillage. The title references an Austrian Folksong that reflects the late CEO’s name, and he quoted another folksong in a documentary which the poet quotes in the epigram. The words serve as a chorus. “Threnody” was written when 50,000 people had died from COVID-19, which was more than the population of the town the poet grew up in. Now, with over 1 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, it is important to take a step back and analyze national responses around the globe. Are some nations better prepared to deal with crises than others? What accounts for the differences and how can we improve national and international management to safeguard against inevitable tragedy?
In the 1950s, Harry Harlow performed a controversial psychological experiment in which he separated baby monkeys from their mothers and placed them in isolation for months. The effects included: mental distress, depression, aggression towards self and others, and obliteration of social instincts. Animal rights supporters’ outrage led to the criticism of solitary confinement for humans in prison — if the effects were this debilitating for monkeys trapped in a cage, how then can humans cope with the same conditions? On a larger scale, the past year (2020) has introduced large swaths of Earth’s population to governmental lockdowns due to COVID-19. Though much of the world has since reopened, we have been faced with the reality of isolation and its trade-offs when it comes to contracting COVID-19. “The Rabbit Hutch” grapples with the effects of social isolation and the desire for freedom despite what might be waiting for the narrator outside of lockdown.