The young and the old

A lot of things have changed since dawn first rose to greet humanity; once, we divided ourselves into tribes and settlements. Eventually, being creatures prone to the irresistible whims of pride and ambition, we pushed ourselves further and further until we built the world we live in today. Despite this timeline of constant change (fuelled by humanity’s general hunger for knowledge), there is one common thread that manages to establish the recurring nature of one, fundamental human conundrum – the eternal, undying struggle between the older generation’s need for tradition, familiarity and power and the younger generation’s craving for recognition, change and innovation.

For untold millennia, this conflict of interests has essentially been the compass which dictated the definitive direction of society’s evolutionary process. Without the fresh input of the young, society would decay and eventually crumble – similarly, without the guidance and experience of our elders, we would lack the stage upon which we would build our future. Therefore, this train of thought raises the question that has vexed countless minds of both the past and the present; who’s to blame for the inter-generational problems we just can’t seem to solve?

I will not be presumptuous enough to say that this is an answer to that question – I am merely just another human being, and this is only my opinion. From my perspective, the biggest problem we have is the way we have distorted our list of priorities. Money has become the absolute symbol of one’s importance, and a lack of it entails a very difficult life. As a result of this, both generations are wrapped up in an unending, king-of-the-hill style war whose casualties are our values, love, communication and understanding, and peace. Instead of focusing on our future as a singular, collective population of human beings, we have self-segregated in factions and groups, desperately trying to put as much distance as possible between ourselves and any possible competition for the spoils of our planet.

If you would like additional evidence that underlines what I’m saying here, simply look at the way we handle crises and any problems that concern our society’s wellbeing. Homelessness? Some cold, calculating bastard came up with the idea of anti-homeless spikes in public spaces. Several highly dubious terrorist acts, including 9/11 and anything that came after it? Let’s bomb the living daylights out of pre-selected, Middle Eastern countries and further fuel the cycle of devastation, anger, bigotry and hatred.

Our leaders and so-called “representatives” have convincingly pulled the wool in front of our eyes, and they are fully in control of what we see, what we read, what we learn, what we eat and anything else in between. We wordlessly and obediently regurgitate the opinions of “experts” and “delegates”, fully believing that what they decide and what they want aligns with what we need. Instead of answers and transparency, we get refusals for comment and shadiness. It is for this reason that I believe that myself and anyone else who was born in my generation needs to stand up for what is right, and not blindly follow in everyone else’s footsteps. Whoever is in power always wants it to stay that way, and therefore it’s up to us to divert our terrible, downward spiral into a luxurious paradise for the rich and a hell-hole for the poor.

Advertisements

The Failure of the United Nations

In a society where political leaders and their lackeys are given every material possession a person could desire and corruption rears its ugly head in every government across the world, it is practically common knowledge that men of power and wealth are almost always embroiled in political scandals just waiting to be caught and plastered all over the news. If it is a serious government, the perpetrator in question is dismissed from office and forgotten – if not, the case is normally dragged on and on until the public forgets and things can be properly covered up by another distraction (whilst said perpetrator either acquires a different form of power or gets to walk away without facing any repercussions).

However, the more time passes the more institutionalised corruption gets. At this point, it has become a network of greased palms and synchronised deals, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why and how it’s all being done. Specifically, today I would like to discuss the fact that Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN in Geneva has been chosen to chair a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council (said Council will have the authority to ‘select applicants from around the world for scores of expert roles in countries where the UN has a mandate on Human Rights’).

Allow me to elaborate – the United Nations, whose main purpose is to promote human rights amongst other important pillars of society such as peace, security and social development, has appointed a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world as its centrepiece in the Human Rights Council. Saudi Arabia is ruled by an oppressive, iron-fisted monarchy that is notoriously well-known for its ruthless treatment of any who are deemed ‘dissidents’ of the Islamic faith. The list of rights violations committed by the kingdom is practically endless – torture, corporal and capital punishment, human trafficking, sexual segregation and gender apartheid (women aren’t even allowed to drive), sectarianism and active and unscrupulous censorship of anything that hasn’t been approved by the authorities are just a few of the worst parts of living in Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps one of the most terrifying examples of Saudi Arabia’s oppression of its people and its neighbouring countries is the imprisonment and torture sentence of 1,000 lashes given to pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi after he wrote about the importance of free speech. Some of you might now be asking yourselves why the hell would anyone in their right mind even think of giving such a responsibility to a country that executes and beheads anyone that does not comply; the answer is simple. Saudi Arabia has the second-largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world, and is simultaneously the world’s largest oil producer and exporter. As a nation, Saudi Arabia has an estimated GDP of $1.668 trillion, and over the period of 2010 – 2014 was the world’s second largest arms importer.

It is this unholy trinity of oil reserves, military expenditure and totalitarianism that has allowed Saudi Arabia to corrupt and destroy the United Nations from within and desecrate everything the UN is supposed to stand for. In its demonic alliance with the United States, it has covertly funded and shaped terrorism as we know it in the Middle East today (think of Saudi Arabia in the so-called Arab world as you think of America on a global scale), and is also essentially the world’s biggest advocate for our dependency on oil. Most importantly, as the Maltese population, we should especially criticise the country for being one of the richest nations in the world whilst simultaneously being completely unreceptive to the pleas of its neighbouring, war-torn countries to take refugees. It is an absolute disgrace that a country as brutal and intolerant as Saudi Arabia is allowed to do as it pleases whilst innocent people are bombed and murdered every day. Oil should never trump human rights.

Politics 101: The Concept of Divide and Conquer

We’ve all heard the incessant arguments that make the majority of people avoid the topic of politics with a desperate sigh and an attempt to change the subject to something completely different; it’s always one party against the other, or one party ruling in favour of a particular policy (e.g.: Obamacare) and the other one ruling against it, or perhaps a referendum that divides a nation into two different camps whilst drawing the public’s attention away from other issues – it’s always the same concept.

Through state-owned media and national broadcasting services, it is presented to us as democracy at work, the ‘system’ presenting us with choices. Hope and a false feeling of power being given freely to the people is instilled, and a contained illusion of freedom is sparked in our minds. Yet, it is truly through this that we are most vulnerable; the easiest way to manipulate a human being is when they feel secure and in power and in complete control. But, if you think about it seriously and thoroughly, you will eventually at some point realise something’s really wrong with this situation, and it will be stuck in your head like a splinter in your finger.

If you haven’t drawn your own conclusion yet, allow me to nudge you in the right direction – it is the concept of ‘Divide and Conquer’ at work. The definition for the concept according to Wikipedia goes as follows: “In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.” What you might be asking yourself now is this: “What does this have to do with democracy and the examples mentioned earlier?”

The answer to that question lies in whether one manages to assimilate the concept’s definition into how modern society’s power mechanisms work. Whenever there is a big issue, the public is immediately divided; ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ camps, ‘Conservative’ or ‘Liberal’, ‘Labour’ or ‘Nationalist’ (the two main political parties in Malta, the country I was born in) etc… The reason for this is because it establishes a defined, easy-to-target enemy that always manages to be the clear, definite ‘bad guy’. This divides us into factions, and conveniently satisfies our need to blame other people for what’s wrong in the world whilst being thoroughly convinced we are ‘on the right side of history’.

More importantly, what this whole notion does best is make us forget who the real antagonist is. It makes us forget that the real enemy isn’t the group of people on the other side of an issue, but it’s the people in power who do everything they can to abuse it, further the expanse of the gap between the rich and the poor and then get away with doing all that and getting filthily rich in the process. The real criminals and extremists aren’t the ones they tell you are; it’s the ones doing the telling that need to pay for their crimes.