Shaking off colonial shackles no easy task

Shaking off colonial shackles no easy taskWhen studying historical documents, it’s fascinating to observe that regardless of how a statement was received at the time it was delivered, messages of truth, integrity and greatness endure through the ages. My French class and I recently examined two speeches of note that were made on June 30, 1960, the day the Congo won…

Freedom and responsibility two sides of same coin

Freedom and responsibility two sides of same coinPsychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl made many trips to the United States. He appreciated the sense of freedom experienced by Americans, but added, “I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” Freedom and responsibility seem to mean different things to…

Lose sight of justice and society starves

Trump poured gasoline on the flames of misogyny and racism and put the lives of millions of people at risk

Lose sight of justice and society starvesAmer Zahr, a teacher of Islamic law, points out that while eating pork is forbidden, it’s allowed out of necessity in cases of extreme hunger. Zahr is also a Palestinian-American comedian, and in a recent monologue, he stated that in the 2020 presidential election he chose ham over starvation. He has a point. Much of…

The return of the Armenian Genocide must be stopped

Putting the health of the people in the South Caucasus at risk puts us all at risk. Diseases spread and mutate rapidly in refugee camps

The return of the Armenian Genocide must be stoppedWhen teaching history, it’s rare that an issue more than 100 years old becomes a current events lesson, but that’s what happened as I began teaching about the Armenian Genocide. The Ottoman Empire is responsible for the death of 1.5 million Armenians, primarily under the cover of the First World War. The empire collapsed after…

The beauty of secularism

The beauty of secularismIt’s disturbing to learn that someone in the same profession was murdered while walking home from work. Samuel Paty, who taught a curriculum similar to mine, was beheaded by an extremist outside of Paris on Oct. 16. Paty presented material in previous weeks as part of a study of freedom of speech that some found…

Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomers

Someone said, ‘Greed is good’ and we repeated it. But the only thing that matters when you die is your legacy

Shedding the destructive legacy of the baby boomersI have to apologize to the youth of the world for the state we find ourselves in. Yes, great things have happened in my lifetime. We watched the fall of the Berlin Wall and we have taken some steps in the progress of human rights. But the legacy of the baby boomer generation leaves little…

The people versus Donald Trump

When a leader suggests he will subvert the democratic process, voters have recourse. We’ve seen it in the Philippines and elsewhere

The people versus Donald TrumpAn apocryphal story circulated in the Philippines in the early 1980s of a dinner party conversation between President Ferdinand Marcos and Catholic Bishop Jaime Sin. Marcos reportedly said, “I really admire those Americans. They know the results of their presidential elections the day of the election.” In response, Sin reportedly said, “Well how about us…

It’s time we all stood up for Julian Assange

What message do we send dictators and the people who live under their tyranny if we don’t have the courage to live up to our own ideals?

It’s time we all stood up for Julian AssangeIt’s very rare to hear Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and scholar Noam Chomsky agree on anything but a largely underreported topic brings both ends of the political spectrum together: the Julian Assange affair. In a recent interview, Carlson’s guest Glenn Greenwald pointed out that efforts to silence Assange go back to the administration of…

We are witnessing the demise of the American empire

We are witnessing the demise of the American empire“We are witnessing America as a failed social experiment,” Ivy League philosopher Cornel West has said. West is not alone in this assessment. Numerous scholars are expressing similar concerns, including University of British Columbia professor Wade Davis, who recently published The Unraveling of America in Rolling Stone magazine. Are we really seeing the end of…

Finding the truth when the media has an agenda

Finding the truth when the media has an agendaDeception and dishonesty aren’t new. When sending his disciples out into the world 2,000 years ago, Jesus gave the following advice: “I am sending you like sheep among wolves; therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” People have always told lies to promote their agendas and to protect their economic interests.…

Diversity of ideas leads to better solutions

The great are those who strive valiantly, those who are willing to learn from their mistakes and try again

Diversity of ideas leads to better solutionsIt’s a myth to think we’re only successful if we achieve our goals. The key to happiness is not only to have goals that are significant to us, but to dare greatly to achieve them. Former American president Theodore Roosevelt said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how…

Racism is arbitrary and pointless

We don’t have to look hard to realize many of our relatives have been victims of racism. If we live in comfort and freedom, it’s only because we’re lucky

Racism is arbitrary and pointlessI’m outraged as I write this. Yet another Black American, Jacob Blake, was shot in front of his children, in broad daylight and in cold blood by a white police officer. Miraculously, he survived, but it’s unlikely he will ever walk again. I’m also very inspired by the myriad of professional athletes refusing to play;…

Laughing in the face of despair and tragedy

Humour breaks down walls that divide us and builds empathy and understanding. It’s one of the most amazing, enriching aspects of being human

Laughing in the face of despair and tragedyHumourist Paul Lowney said, “Laughter has no foreign accent.” I recall listening to Polish friends banter in their own language. Although I didn’t understand what they were saying, I found myself smiling. When one of them asked why I was laughing and whether I understood what they were saying, I simply said, “No, but you laugh the…

The dangers of uncritical media consumption

Do we really believe that deception, dishonesty, manipulation and lack of accountability lead to peace, happiness and meaning in life?

The dangers of uncritical media consumptionIf we look honestly at the media that much of the world consumes, we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re living in a time of crisis. One of the goals of education is to develop the capacity for critical thinking in young people. This doesn’t mean we condemn anyone else, but it does mean we learn…
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