When a migrant worker commits a crime who is to blame really? In some cases it should be obvious, and yet at other times it isn’t so clear-cut. If a migrant worker who is unable to have a job because they are barred from working commits theft or takes on a job illegally can we truly say that it was their fault? It could be argued that in order for there to be guilt there needs to be a choice. These workers are being denied much of a choice. When the two options are steal or starve I really don’t think that there are many options open to them. Despite what Seema said, I can’t agree that the same crime must always be punished equally at all times. It is far more justifiable for a person who is getting by but commits fraud out of greed to be thrown in jail than for the system to punish someone who commits the same act because the system forced them into that situation. The point really is that for something to be considered ethical decision there should be a reasonable choices presented. When the only choice left is to turn to crime, can we really blame anyone for doing so?
What I brought away from the talk with Deborah Emmanuel is that labels, or lack thereof, matter. The problem quite frankly is that in the pursuit of diversity we seem to at times create an overt focus on our differences. Just to use the example of race, the approach that some people have taken with ideas like affirmative action is to group people into different races and then try to forcibly balance them out. I have my doubts about an approach like that. Simply because it retains that same core idea that race matters, and I don’t really think that is a solution that we should be going for. It just seems to be a way to create more walls, more resentment more problems. For institutions to make decisions based on a label attached to someone seems wrong even if it is well-intentioned. Honestly, is it that hard to see people as who they are? The first thing people need to learn is to stop shoving people into boxes.
A photograph from Robyne Hayes showing life in Ethiopia
While listening to Robin Hayes’ talk what struck me wasn’t the images, it was the statistics on the screen. It is astonishing that so many people are victims of child marriage, but even more so that we don’t really know about it. That really brings me to the point of this post. No matter what happens in the world even in there is a war in Syria, even if hundreds of millions of girls are forced to marry at a young age, even in the Rohingya are being slaughtered in Myanmar it seems as if though it doesn’t affect us one bit. We’ve been called the bubble wrap generation. Quite frankly, it’s true. We’ve been insulated, protected, but also blindfolded. A willful ignorance of sorts has set in. We know these things happen, sure, everyone knows child marriage, for example, does happen, but people simply do not wish to comprehend the scale or the human impact of such issues. These things have become nothing more than words on a page or just photos of those we do not know. No one cares, not really, a few people sure, but on the grand scale I honestly think that willful ignorance is the greatest problem in modern society.
Take refugees for example. It is beyond astonishing how politicians and ordinary people alike can in good conscience argue for simply leaving them to die when lives could be saved by opening the doors and allowing these people in. At times I fear what seems to be the gradual deterioration of the human race. By all means, I am grateful for being able to live in relative safety, and yet I wonder if humans were truly ever meant to live in such a bubble. What this illusory safe bubble has brought with it is a complete stripping away of perspective on what actually matters. In other words, why bother to care when you can just watch Netflix? The problem fundamentally seems to be that our best qualities seem inherently tied to pain.
The success of the modern world at removing people completely from those facing hardship has led to a generation (or several actually) of individuals who lack compassion, understanding, appreciation and basic decency. In other words, we become what we are exposed to. The fact that our lives are dominated by social media, video games, and Netflix has directly made us into superficial human beings. The thoughts dominating our minds is on how many likes we get on Instagram, planning the day out in Universal Studios, and thinking of how to convince our parents to let us spend longer playing video games on our laptop. It’s the constant stream of garbage running through our head that rots away the heart. When the things you care about most are things that don’t really matter, then soon nothing will matter to you anymore.
This isn’t a call to return to the 18th century, they had more problems than we do and that would solve one problem but create a thousand more. However it is clear that our modern lifestyle is what has caused the problems in the world today. Donald Trump isn’t really a symptom of hardship faced by his voters. He is a symptom of the sheer lack of gratitude people have for what they have been given. Honestly, for all their complaints, every one of those people live in a rich, relatively safe country and yet they blame the people who are fleeing from having bombs dropped on them. Remove someone enough from hardship and they stop seeing the hardship of others too. We live in a prison. One built not of suffering but of superficiality. Transcend, Rise Beyond. The central problem in the world today isn’t all the wars and tragedies it is the fact that humanity has degenerated to such an extent that we no longer want to fix problems despite having the resources to do so.
Link to Robyne Hayes’ website: http://www.robynehayes.com/
Link to a project by Robyne Hayes on child marriage in Ethiopia: http://www.care.org/sites/default/files/documents/Photo_voice_final3.pdf
I came out of the talk with Chetan Bhagat with a lot of thoughts whirling in my head. What struck me was that he said that he wasn’t the best writer and that he had merely changed the game. Often, when someone is seen as successful people automatically assume that they are the best in their field. For Chetan Bhagat however that does not seem to be the case. He showed how he managed to become a successful writer simply by changing the target audience so that his writing appealed to ordinary Indians. That seems to be a good lesson to learn in life. If you can’t become better at doing something the way someone else is doing it then do it another way. I can’t help but draw a parallel with Genghis Khan. Perhaps, he actually was the best military commander of his time, perhaps not, the point remains though that it is undoubtable that much of his success can be attributed to the fact that he did things in a way that was unique for his time mainly by promoting people based on merit and by bringing the lower classes of conquered people into his clan (John Green, Crash Course History). The point here is that many of the world’s most successful people succeeded by doing things in a new way. As was said by the 18th century Samurai Issai Chozanshi, “Man is a moving being. If he does not move to what is good, he will surely move to that what is not”. Those who do not adapt and change stagnate. They become as Dinosaurs as Chetan put it. Once strong and mighty but extinct now.
While making this video one of the major challenges I faced was that my partner was absent for the second day and all the material got lost so I had to start again with a new partner. Learning from the process of making this video has meant that I had to be able to explain a concept and not just solve questions about it. Honestly, I didn’t like making this video all that much and would rather have stuck to worksheets.
In his talk today Steve Dawson gave several tips on how to do a good interview:
- Ask Open-Ended Questions
- Set the Answer Free (ask questions in a way that doesn’t restrict the possible answers)
- Don’t Interrupt
- Don’t ask double-barreled questions
- Listen to the answer (and follow up)
The most interesting thing for me was how some of the things he said was good journalism was not what is necessarily done by many actual journalists. For example, he says that interviewing isn’t about you looking good but about allowing the person interviewed to express themselves. Obviously, looking at many shows on TV where famous people are interviewed that is not what many interviewers actually do. Another thing he said was that hard news should be about simply presenting all the facts without bias. Again, in a lot of cases, even with credible newspapers, even hard news has a heavy degree of bias. What Steve Dawson has presented seems to me to be an ideal of what he believes journalism should be. What journalists actually do in a world where the goal isn’t “good journalism” but viewers, fame, furthering political agendas, and cash may very well be quite different.