Monday, December 27, 2004

"Please Understand...

that we are a sad people" said the Soviet General, swaying at the open mouth of the elevator shaft. "We are very, very sad". He was saying a tearful, goodbye to a dear friend, an American General who had broken throught the hard veneer of the Soviet Cold War visage. The American General spoke perfect Russian, with a soft Ukrainian accent, knew more about the Russian's military history and tactics than most Russian Generals and loved to get into long discussians about which American units could beat which Russian units. The deep respect and affection of the American pierced the hardness thrown up by his Russian contemporaries, making them heartbroken to see him leave. This was just one of the long parties, swimming as they all did with vodka and lengthy toasts.
"Please, remember that we have much to be sad about".

Of all the World's Ills...

The one which I feel can be conquered, in the short run, most easily, is corruption. Most cultures at least give lip service to knowing it is wrong. Many have serious legal consequences for it. However, like litter, it abounds. It is expected in 'Third World Countries', and even in second tier countries, such as Mexico. If instances of corruption could be lowered (never hope for elimination) the world's economy would be boosted dramatically.
Compare Canada and Mexico. Mexico tolerates corruption; Canada doesn't. Mexico has more natural resources, but lags economically. Canada is a stable economy which has a higher standard of living. The main difference is corruption. Mexicans work as hard individually as Canadians. Or would if the had the economy to employ them. How many economic refugees from Canada do we have?
A case could be made that it is the differences in the basic cultures. Culture as a whole is hard to change, but the piece of Mexico's Spanish culture that tolerates corruption could be changed. Not all Spanish cultures tolerate corruption. Corruption is not a central part of that culture.

There but for...

the grace of God go we. The Tsunami could have been a fire, or other catastrophe, here or at your home.
We must savor the eternal 'Now'. We are promised no more than this moment.
When you go out in the cold, and feel it's bite, think of all those before you who had no hope of warmth, who had no hope of warm food. Read "Gulag Archipelago" or account of the work camps in WW II. Savor what you have, work so you can keep it, help someone else achieve it.
The only thing that you can never be deprived of, by others, is your mind. And the quality of your mind is due to genetics and education. The thing that can take you away from your troubles is your mind's work...imagination. With that, your imagination, fueled by your education, you can be free even in prison. Nelson Mandela proved it. Read 'Pappillion', about a french prisoner who swam from the French Prison Island, Devil's Island, after long terms in solitary.