Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Diversity and Dialogue – Humanity's Guarantee for a Mutually Enriching and Sustainable Future.

 In 2002, a jointly held UNESCO and UNEP high-level Roundtable report proclaimed cultural diversity

“as a source of innovation, creativity and exchange—is humanity's guarantee for a mutually enriching and sustainable future.” 

This proclamation was made against the backdrop of the then perceived environmental issue: cultural diversity is linked to biodiversity, in a defense against modern developments and indigenous acculturation, leading to rapid decline of knowledge and relationship with their natural environments.

“It is within this background that Indigenous communities have been described as, at one and the same time, victims of environmental degradation and protectors of vulnerable ecosystems (UN 1991: Para. 23).”

In the last decade, others have explored this proclamation in the two other categorical contexts of sustainability, seeing it as

(1) a social justice issue: culturally diverse populations, and often lower incomed, are often at the frontlines of environmental degradations absorbing the impacts, and

(2) an economic bottomline issue: corporate diversity initiatives leading to increased economic performance and profitability. 

But rarely do pundits and academics see the dialogue as a completed circular one. Most are set on seeing this linearly and discretely—contextually independent. Within these independent categorical contexts of sustainability and dialogue, professionals and mangers often take one of two different approaches to sustainability: (1) that organizations have an obligation to do something progressive to address the challenges, or (2) that organizations have the opportunity to change internally and improve to maximize value creation. Not surprisingly, most for-profit organizations take the second path and have developed a body of knowledge around what we refer to today as corporate social responsibility—in a dimensional limit of Me, Me, Me!

But if our Constitutional state is a permissive one, which implies a certain sense of social obligation from private entities, and if corporations are to be treated equally as individuals before the law under the protections of afforded rights, then, not only do the corporations have opportunities to make internal performance improvements within the context of sustainability, but they also have the obligation to facilitate a reciprocal relationship between diversity and dialogue in their communities, marketplaces, and the greater communities in which they thrive to foster sustainable developments for others.

Cultural diversity is a dynamic process and for the corporate sector, it is an entrepreneurial and innovative process. It is not a stagnate deposit of cultural relics to distil best practices. It is an emerging global economic identity still discovering adolescence in the age of We, of Us.

It is in a sense a “reciprocal” relationship (between diversity and dialogue in sustainability), and the “causal link that binds them cannot be severed without jeopardising development’s sustainability.” 

The key to this reciprocal relationship and dialogue is in the investigation of things and in the knowledge exchange—a “continuously flowing and unifying dialogue open to each and every expression of identity.” In the Us context, only in this act of learning and applying can we find cultural diversity really translates to value for sustainability.

“Cultural diversity is more than the fact of cultural difference. It is a value which recognizes that differences in human societies are parts of systems and relationships. Cultural diversity is the value through which differences are mutually related and reciprocally supportive.” 

But the end objective remains an active and communal transition towards positively empowered sustainability.

Something to sit on so to speak. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Aisthanomai - dot(Us)

To perceive is the first of everything. What is this experience, how does it affect me, how can I impact it? Perceiving is believing, and believing is the first step to achieving; so all things starts here.

It is also an aesthetic exercise, not a mere logical one. We often neglect this and prefer a worn logical path void of any feelings. We are taught this way in schools, universities, work places, and society generally. Look where it has gotten Us? We follow instructions, calculate without thinking, and have now come to near a point of no return.

We constructed cognitive dissonance between Us and the world, between mindfully perceiving and ruthlessly calculating, and we chose to ignore the walls between Us.

For fear of the reflective aesthetic attitude we may have, logic was invented to curb the dangerous appetite of anger, of destructions and self-fulfilling apocalyptic prophecies. For fear of social disorder, we constructed and willingly accepted social stratospheres to dumb down the masses. We are thus less willing to challenge the status quo, are risk averse, and are fed media for consumption, stories for private gains, and entertainment to outlet our dispassionate emotions devoid of meaning and purpose.

But there is more to life and our common human experience, isn't there? We want a better world. We know profits and gains has to be measured in multi-dimensions—money isn't the measure of everything. We are inventing and creating new ways to doing economics, to measuring success and happiness, to make money not for making money's sake but to make it to facilitate the living. Most importantly, we know we have to come together on this. It's not just the governments, not just the corporations, not just the do-gooders, but all of Us. It will take the collective, the capitalized: Us!

We have been collectively at this for our entire recorded history, in various forms and fashions. We have labelled it as religion when we are devoted, as philosophy when we are enlightened, renaissance and revolution when we felt the need to do something. Most recently, with the advent of globally connected technologies and the Internet of Everything, we are calling for sustainable changes, zero waste and circular economies, for crowd actions, pulling resources, inventing new structures, gathering strength, Anonymously and unanimously turning the tides. All over the world we are letting a voice be heard: the myopic is no longer the starting point of perceiving. The new globalization is a flatter world connected, a new people without boarders or corporate affiliations; distributed masses living alternative independent arrangements, empowered as individuals, collaborating for common core moral upticks—for Change.

Take down the walls: prosperity is for the collective experience, and progress is not limited to the “either/or” type of thinking. It is expanding to become the “we/together” mentality that will prevail.

Together We stand and contribute in everything we do, in everything we feel. We no longer believe doing good is just an after-thought, that fear is a mere reaction, something we achieve after we have polluted and made millions exploiting others. Doing good is a way of life, a practice of becoming, the Aesthetic of all things: the antithesis of fear and exploitation in that we are embracing our fellow human beings, other living things, on this common planet we all call home. Doing good is a “We” thing, it's an "Us" thing. It's a story told in the digital connected age—an inspiring story. We are remembered not for the self-interests from which we all start, but for the ending in better societies, smarter communities, and finer things in life worth the individual struggles of our daily trials and tribulations.

To perceive is the first of everything. Start perceiving and let's get to a better place together. It's why we are here on this pale blue (dot) planet in the middle of nowhere of this universe, isn't it Us?


Friday, March 4, 2016

The Battle Was Never Over.

Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. Defeat brings on worse things than can ever happen in a war. 

It was said that the objective of any war is peace. Hard to believe, peace seems an over-exaggerated illusion these days. There are plenty of psychopaths and criminals bearing arms living among us, fundamentals and fanatics perpetuating hate and violence. Plenty of bad politicians endangering our public discourse, waging war against the lower and middle class. We are left without purpose or focus, just many ways to distract ourselves. Peace has become irrelevant to the masses with their short attention spans lost in a social media global digital age. Hash-tags and meaningless chants: make America great again! Click, like, tweet and share. Chances are we are all sleeping through our problems.

This should raise anxieties. All war veterans remember when drill sergeant tossed the whole platoon's barrack for one person's failure. You remember, that guy who forgot to lock his locker. The rest of that day was spent on cleaning up and doing push-ups. No one wants to be that person—the “blue falcon”—whose locker's content was tossed wildly, along with beds, mattresses, lockers, and anything not attached to the floor. All veterans learned the lesson that day to take their responsibilities seriously, for the sake of others and for the sake of working towards a mission collectively, executed flawlessly. That lesson in some ways help made the utter nonsense of war more tolerable. We trained and prepared, and will be ever ready; we had each other to count on and all those years of miserableness together in places no one would visit for leisure. We all endured, no one wants to be the “blue falcon” and sleep on duty. At war, anything is possible and together we became comfortably ready.

But we aren't in the military anymore and the war is over, or so declared. We have all admittedly gone from Hulk status to Shriek in these past few years. We are complacent. Mercenary pundits are keen to exploit this. They keep our public discourse divided and distracted, perspectives narrow for dramatic effects. The media glamors in supporting role of the greatest deceptions. The sheep herds are left with mute voices and trivialized opinions; sheepdogs fattened and letting wolves run rampant. No one seems to care except for empty slogans: we want change. Do we? Change to what? Are we really so ready to set up internment camps? Lock up the Muslims? Mexicans? Immigrants? Who's next when they run out of people to lock up and scare the public with?

Rest assured the anxieties are real. We are confronted with catastrophic ecological changes threatening our health and our environment. Social and political unrests seem more common these days, terrorism more rampant and saturated, refugees more prominent in local debates. Our market boom and bust cycles are more troublesome, income gaps are widening and our national debt continue to balloon. The rich gets richer and poor gets poorer, but the growing burdens are put on the least able to bear them. The American Dream is fading and “American Exceptionalism” has become a bad thing because the public at its third-grade reading level won't understand what it means. Sad indeed, but happily the masses go back to chants: we want change, tell it like it is, make America great again. So long it is someone else is doing the work to change things, telling us enough to fool us, and make America abundant in guns, celebrities, and politicians behaving badly. In this modern misinformation age, democracy has practically become standardized and commercialized melodrama to fatten people's pockets. Nothing is exceptional anymore, just fabulously corrupt beyond recognition.

We all recognizes the symptoms, but no one has yet to make a decisive diagnosis. We the people remain perfectly susceptible to fear mongering, disconnected from sympathy, dignity, or respect for basic human rights. We tolerate hate more easily and no one talks courage anymore. Conservative values in America are detached from the progressive goals of conservation, controlling corporations, and consumer protection. Conservative values are now synonymously linked to having a closed mind. When minds are closed to compassion, we see the rise of the authoritarian voters perpetuating racist and sexist ideologies. Whatever happened to grace under pressure and the attitude that we collectively can do the right thing? When did we begin to fail our trainings?

Wake up all you veterans.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

- The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of the United State 

Our Constitution is a permissive one. It presumes natural and inalienable rights retained by individuals independent and free of our governments. This freedom and independence is also an obligation. Someone famous who died young once said “ask what you can do for this country”, well you get the sentiment. Justice, Welfare, Liberty, and Posterity, for all. So do something about it.

As a veteran, I've long stopped wearing my BDUs. I can barely run a few miles when I have time. I get annoyed on Armistice Day when everyone is dressed in red, white and blue obsessively celebrating veterans. I hide indoors on Memorial Day when they fire up their grills. Peace is just lip service paid to bad memories. I no longer fear bullets and I don't hug a M4 to bed. My wife has long cured my nightmares and I snore like a champ sleeping these days. I still don't like crowds and I sit with my back against the wall and eyes on the exits when I can. Pop culture has beautifully saturated my social anxieties with being some kind of hero—PTSD as they affectionately coin the term to admire and neglect me. But PTSD for veterans is reserved for the the entitled, the self-served, the veterans who lie about their experiences because no one who's been to battle suffers post-traumatic anything. You never stop fighting, the battle never ends. There is no post-traumatic anything because what's truly traumatic is happening before my eyes.

So I am awkwardly left in the back of the room dealing with my social anxieties and watching the Constitution I swore to defend spiraling down the drain. The battle is just beginning.