Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Where did the Work Go?

It's really a shame that work has become...what it has become. So many occupations used to involve some form of physical labor. Today, although some involve more than others, much less manual labor is necessary.

Even professions traditionally thought to be labor-intensive have decreased a great deal in the amount of physical work required. For example, construction has become increasingly mechanized in the name of efficiency. I don't think anybody uses a wheelbarrow professionally anymore.

More and more jobs are unhealthily static. Many people sit in a cubicle or behind a desk or are simply in one place for most of the day.

There is a beauty in hard physical work. I think it's really beneficial not only to the body but to the mind. Being indoors all day contributes to stress and it is unhealthy to do as little physical work as most people, at least in America, do these days. This is an example of efficiency gone overboard. Sure, efficiency is good, but I don't think it's necessary to be as efficient as possible all the time, regardless of the effect.

So, the next time you have the opportunity to sweat, do so. The next time you catch yourself obssessing over efficiency, say: SCREW EFFICIENCY. The next time you have a choice to do something inside or outside, choose outside. Bureaucracy is icky.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Euthanasia

A person should have complete control over his or her life. That means having the right to end it. The practice of euthanasia should be legalized across the country and the world, although in some areas in just impractical. Legalizing assissted suicicde, in my opinion, would lower the rate of suicides in the country.

The reason I believe this is that many people attempt suicide hoping and expecting that they will fail. It is a cry for help. If suicide meant going to a doctor and having it done, people that simply wanted attention would not go through with it. So, they might instead attempt it themselves all the same, but it would be very easy to sort out who wants to die and who wants help living.

Although I think people should have the right to end their lives, I also think that suicide in any form is a hainous and egocentric act. A conscious and able human is one of the most powerful tools on earth. A human has an amazing potential to do good and enjoy life, not to mention a certain obligation to their friends, family members, and the human race as a whole. I think the desire to kill one's self is an illlusion and an obstacle to be overcome, but I think we should be given the option to overcome that obstacle. No government has the right to make that decision for anyone, although I do think there is a right answer. Basically, I think we need to arrive at the right answer ourselves, and not be told what it is.

Life is too good, too rare, and too valuable to end on purpose. Life is also to precious to be unfairly restricted. The right to make difficult decisions is an aspect of life. Once again, I believe that the government is denying the power and sanctity of the self in the case of keeping euthanasia illegal.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Divisions


One of the most discussed topics in the diplomatic world today is that of Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, are asserting their country's right to nuclear energy. The concern among some members of the U.N. security council is whether the enriched Uranium, which will be weapons grade, will just go to peaceful purposes.

Iran's clerical government has expressed support for terrorist organizations and favors violence against Israel on the part of Palestinian radicals. This is dangerous, but even a nation such as this has the right to develop nuclear energy. The problem is that there is no way to ensure that the Uranium won't go farther than that. The only way to ensure that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons is to end all Uranium enrichment in the country.

That is exactly what a U.N. security council draft is proposing. The draft has split the security council on the issue, with Russia and China opposing forceful action if Iran does not halt Uranium enrichment. Great Britain, France, and the United States are in favor of "further measures" if Iran does not cooperate.

The reason that this split is especially dangerous is for, in my opinion, two reasons:
1) The split is potentially ideological, and calls into questions the rights and equality of nations.
2) The split is geographical IN ADDITION to ideological, so if divisions deepen the conflict could become a general one of east versus west.

The second one is more worrisome to me, personally. A world of conflict between the east and west would cause isolation, hostility, and probably military competition. It would be a kind of second Cold War. That is terrifying.

The U.N. security council needs to come to a consensus on the issue, some middle ground that is acceptable for all five nations. If that doesn't happen, the crisis could consist of a lot more than just Iran.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Victory

Recently sentenced 9/11 culprit Zacharias Moussaoui received life in prison instead of the death penalty. This decision was the result of fairly extensive jury deliberations. In my opinion, and the opinion of many others I'm sure, this was the right decision. Executing Moussaoui would only give him what he wants and would immortalize him as a martyr in the face of Western tyranny and culture.

Aside from strengthening our enemies, we should oppose the death penalty simply because murder is not the correction for murder. I sincerely hope that this jury decision, which overlooked the death penalty as acceptable for a man who aided a hainous act, will cause a more widespread consideration for the abolition of the death penalty.

I am also a believer in human redemption. I think that some criminals should remain behind bars for the rest of their lives without the hope of getting out, however I also think that a life behind bars, if the criminal comes to terms with his actions and finds some sort of peace with the world, can be a worthwhile one. People can change, and they should never be denied the chance to do that.

But, as I said, I hope that this small victory will lead to a larger movement to eradicate capital punishment as an acceptable way to deal with criminals.

Monday, May 01, 2006

World Peace Possible?

The notion of world peace is certainly cliché, arguably inconceivable and painfully nebulous. Despite all that, I was thinking about it a little bit.

The notion of world peace practically requires everyone to be of the same general mindset. I'm not saying we all need to be carbon copies, but everyone needs to place a high value on respect of others, tolerance, love for mankind, that sorta thing.

There are undoubtedly people who will serve their own interests before considering the interests of others. So, to make world peace a reality, you would have to change those people, or....disappear them. Seeing as that kind of trait in people is not usually easily changed, a somewhat firmer course of action would probably be necessary in some cases. Unfortunately, then you are forcing your ideals on someone.

So basically, the only type of world peace that is possible is forced world peace, and it is arguable that forced peace isn't peace at all, because there is no peace without freedom.

So the only way for true world peace to occur is through some universal idealistic message of tolerance. Oops, that's religion. Too bad everyone misinterprets it and takes scriptures too literally, etc. Too bad religion has been the source of countless conflicts and absurd levels of violence for thousands of years. Great.

So world peace cannot be achieved through force or religion. What do we have left?

Conflict.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Celebrations Replace Protests


Great news. In an update to my previous post on the crisis in Nepal, I am glad to hear the celebrations have replaced protests in the streets of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. The story of Nepal in the past month or so is a truly inspiring one. It testifies to the power that people have. John Locke was indeed correct that the government derives its power from the people, and not the reverse.

King Gyanendra, after responding to protests and a general strike with a curfew, federal troops, and suppression of the media, announced that he was reinstating the parliament that he previously dissolved. The efforts and bravery of the Nepalese people have been rewarded here, and the power of the people has been reiterated.

A government that does not have the support of the majority of its people will fail. I am certainly happy that no intervention was necessary and that the violence did not escalate more than it did. In my previous post on the subject I emplored the Nepalese people to stand up and solve their own problems, and they clearly did that effectively.

Because the people of Nepal were united against a common enemy, they were able to overlook smaller differences in favor of a common cause. A common enemy is one of the most powerful advantages of a united group. If the situation in Nepal was not evidence of that, where all major political parties including Maoist rebels cooperated against an oppressive regime, I'm not sure what is.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Iran makes people nervous

Certainly, no one minds if Iran pursues nuclear technology for domestic energy purposes. Well, at least most people wouldn't. Okay maybe they would. The point is, who can be sure that Iran doesn't have the intention of developing nuclear weapons?

There are signs that Iran wishes to cooperate with the diplomatic community and is not hiding anything. Such a sign would be President Ahmedinejad's intention to cooperate with the IAEA and Mohamed ElBaradei.

However, Iran has reportedly been expanding and reinforcing their nuclear enrichment facilities. There are also plenty of motives for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. They want to be taken seriously by the west. Even more worrisome is their connection to terrorist networks.

There has been a significant amount of talk about a military response by the west. Such a response would, in my opinion, worsen things. If there is a solution to this problem, it will be through diplomatic efforts, and if necessary, economic sanctions. An invasion of a country such as North Korea or Iran is giving those people an excuse to hate the west, and is showing the people of those countries that the United States and Great Britain are exactly what their extremist leaders tell them: tyrants who want to control weaker countries and their resources. Let's not resort to aggression and prove them right.

Not to mention the fact that another military engagement on top of Iraq and Afghanistan would cost the United States even more money. Our money would go to a war that would further fuel the rage and the cause of militant hatred of western culture.