Words of Wisdom by the great musician Mario Lucio from Cape Verde

Peace is something we share. We may be at peace with ourselves but it is important to share it with people.  Peace is definitely not just the politicians’ prerogative. It is for every individual. A nation cannot be in peace if the leaders are not in peace. So we must make an effort to bring peace within ourselves.  The moment we are at peace we must share it with people. It multiplies creating a positive impact. With this a real network can be established. A small collective can grow into a community.

When I was awarded with the WOMEX Personality of the Year, I realized that I have a team of 13 but we never fight with each other, the reason being that culture unites us. We become ambassadors of peace as it is this energy we share with the world. The audience too imbibes this peace. Music and culture is a great way to bring peace. This inspires us to give it our best every time we are on stage as we are there with a mission.

It takes time to understand and discover ourselves. It is very important to have real interactions rather than virtual. People are losing patience due to so much information available at the click of a button. People need to utilize technology very diligently. People are becoming more individualistic with a lot of ego. This leads to suffering. It is thus very important to have real interactions.

 

Into the Heaven of Freedom

 

Susmit Bose is a renowned urban folk singer who sings to spread the message of peace. He has been making music since the 1970’s, and has performed widely in India and abroad. He participated in the International Folk Song Festival in Havana, Cuba in 1978. He has also been involved in making documentaries and films on socio-cultural aspects of India. He composed the score for the film “I am Kalam”. Singing in English, many consider him to be a source of social change for the generation of English educated Indians. Although Susmit does not necessarily agree with it, he has often been called the “Bob Dylan of India”.

He has set Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Where the Mind is Without Fear” to music. The dramatic emphasis of the song is on the lyrics: “Into the heaven of freedom my Father, let my country awake”. Passionate as he is about peace and justice, he is not commercially motivated while making music. This allows him to speak freely and openly about social issues although his aim is not to directly bring about social change.

“All Rise” is an inspirational song about human dignity. Although music alone is not enough for peace, it is a very strong message for communicating the message. “I’m still a hippy at heart,” said Susmit, so let the power of peace prevail.

 

Border Conflicts and Solutions – Points to ponder and dialogue upon

There are many reasons why nations dispute over land. Perhaps the greatest reason why nations dispute land is due to natural resources. What makes land very valuable is what is on or under the land. For example, is there is gas, gold, oil, or any number of other commodities, then that land is very desirable.

There are debating the deposit of natural gases in the disputed area. Another reason of dispute is access to water, which make the land more fertile. In short, there is usually something about the land that both nations want.

Often boundary disputes result from differences between distinct cultures, ethnic groups, or political systems. Boundary disputes resulting from religious differences and ethnic differences are also important.

Another possible cause is the lack of clear borders. Sometimes, land is a surrogate for a desire on each side to have power.

https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-major-reasons-boundary-disputes-403391

Rather than looking at how border disputes can be resolved, the governments should be looking to how they can prevent cross-border tension. The answer, it appears, may lie with education.

Whether such education focuses on cross-culture acceptance due to the multicultural nature of the region, or looks to the implementation of more efficient economic practice in the region – particularly in agriculture, given the importance of water and poor irrigation practices – education can have a significant impact on lessening tension in the region. However, these governments will need to work together, ensuring all groups are included on an equal footing.

https://www.peaceinsight.org/blog/2015/08/the-causes-and-consequences-of-cross-border-conflict-in-kyrgyzstan/

Territorial disputes are traditionally regarded as the most common sources of war. Yet, research focusing on the question why territorial disputes arise has been rare, and has usually relied on power-political assumptions. Typically, the emergence of territorial disputes has been explained in terms of rational strategic and economic interests and changing power relations. Many of today’s territorial disputes can be better explained from a normative perspective, by referring to subjective conceptions of justice and international norms.

As an emotive issue, territory is loaded with a number of emotional and normative elements which today are likely to surpass its `rational’ economic or strategic value. Therefore attempts to resolve territorial disputes which do not take into account the normative dimension underlying such disputes are likely to fail.

In this view, the root of national identity rests on a claim of historical affinity to land. Because people’s sense of identity and belonging are grounded in particular territories, symbolic attachments matter more than territory’s intrinsic value.

 

Attachment to territory is primordial, an element in the formation of group identities forged through a historic process of territorial socialization that imbues land with historical, mythical, or religious meaning.

A prevalent approach in the literature on territory and conflict focuses on the association between nationalism and territorial affinity. If territory is fundamental to one’s national identity, she may object to its division irrespective of the cost of continued control.

In this view, humans, like other animals, are biologically programmed to keep and protect a territory they perceive as theirs, and are thus more likely to go to war over territorial disputes than other issues.

A different strand highlights ideology and identity, arguing that the roots of collective identity are grounded in particular homelands

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/246143317_Explaining_Territorial_Disputes_From_Power_Politics_to_Normative_Reasons

Territorial disputes occur when official representatives of one country make explicit statements claiming sovereignty over a specific piece of territory that is claimed or administered by another country. Territorial disputes lead to militarized conflict more frequently than other types of diplomatic disputes involving maritime, river, identity, economic, cultural, or other issues. A majority of interstate wars have been fought between countries embroiled in one or more territorial disputes. Countries who share contiguous borders are more likely to fight wars with each other than non-contiguous states, especially if they have disagreements over specific pieces of territory. Territory that is more valuable because of natural resources, religious sites, or historical homeland claims generates more violence. Wars also spread or diffuse across geographic boundaries. Territorial disputes can be resolved successfully with peaceful conflict management tools such as arbitration and adjudication through international courts. The successful settlement of border disputes promotes democratization and helps secure the stability of shared borders in the long run. State borders have also become more difficult to violate in recent decades because of the emergence of a norm of territorial integrity. The general decline in territorial conquest stems in part from increasing economic interdependence among countries in the world. While disputes over traditional land borders have decreased over time, other types of territorial disputes have become more prevalent, such as competition over maritime resources in areas around islands or homeland areas.

https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199743292/obo-9780199743292-0178.xml

Forgive the past to survive the future

Forgiveness does not come cheaply; it comes deeply from the heart. In 1995, truth and reconciliation commission was formed in South Africa as an aftermath of apartheid, as a deal between the former white-minority regime and the African National Congress. Formal hearings began on 16 April 1996. It was amazing to see that the leaders that evolved in the camp decided to forgive instead of prosecuting. The nation thought it was immensely important to heal than to punish. They opened their arms and welcomed the individuals to admit their crime fully. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to investigate gross human rights violations that were perpetrated during the period of the Apartheid regime from 1960 to 1994, including abductions, killings, torture. Its mandate covered both violation by both the state and the liberation movements and allowed the commission to hold special hearings focused on specific sectors, institutions, and individuals.

We all read and learnt about the aftermath of the apartheid but very few of us wanted to know what happened after the commission was held. Here was the chance for the South Africans to begin anew. But even after two decades of the TRC commission there is barely any changes. What remained were the traumatic memories of the stories that were told. According to sources there were widows whose husbands were brutally killed by the apartheid forces present at the hearing. Suring their testimony all they could do was to let out a scream which still haunts many who were present.

Significant and Impact

The reconciliatory approach was seen as a successful way of dealing with human-rights violations after political change, either from internal or external factors. Consequently, other countries have instituted similar commissions, though not always with the same scope or the allowance for charging those currently in power.

In one survey study, the effectiveness of the TRC Commission was measured on a variety of levels:

  • Its usefulness in terms of confirming what had happened during the apartheid regime (“bringing out the truth”)
  • The feelings of reconciliation that could be linked to the Commission
  • The positive effects (both domestically and internationally) that the Commission brought about (i.e. in the political and the economic environment of South Africa).

The differences in opinions about the effectiveness can be attributed to how each group viewed the proceedings. Some viewed them as not entirely accurate, as many people would lie in order to keep themselves out of trouble while receiving amnesty for their crimes. (The Commission would grant amnesty to some with consideration given to the weight of the crimes committed.) Some said that the proceedings only helped to remind them of the horrors that had taken place in the past when they had been working to forget such things. Thus, the TRC’s effectiveness in terms of achieving those very things within its title is still debatable

In a series of photographs, Gonzales Day shows lynchings of black bodies with the images of the ropes and bodies removed from the scene of the crime, leaving the white spectators in the photographs. The series invites the viewer to cast the gaze not on the victims of the lynchings, but rather on the spectators to this crime, gleefully standing by to witness this atrocity to its conclusion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_Reconciliation_Commission_(South_Africa)

Other TRCs around the world

Following South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission, many more truth commissions have been created and continue to be created. These include repeat commissions in some countries where the first commission was constrained and new governments felt it had not carried out a full accounting for the past. It has become a model for other countries. Commissions have been widespread in the aftermath of conflict as components of peace agreements in Africa since the 1990. For example, Congo and Sierra Leone have used truth commissions. Chile’s Commission for Truth and Reconciliation was followed by a Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture in 2003. Approximately 3,000 people died or went missing during the years of Augusto Pinochet‘s rule. Pinochet’s successor created the first commission in 1990. The Nepalese Truth Commission was followed by a new commission in 2014; and there have been calls for a new truth commission to supplement the Panama Truth Commission established in 2000.

Commissions have also started to operate with targeted mandates related to indigenous peoples or the aftermath of colonialism. Canada’s truth commission focused on the legacies of Indian residential schools and indigenous-settler relations. Canada sanctioned a program that allowed the kidnapping of native children in order to assimilate them. In 2006 schools that were set in Indian residential areas sued Canada and began the process towards enacting a truth and reconciliation commission.  Also, Australia has held a National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. On the other hand, Germany has held two truth commissions on human rights violations in the former East Germany.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_reconciliation_commission

Against Typecasting: A Deconstruction of Prejudice in Society

The Peace Waves audio play is all about evoking and then dismantles stereotypes in a straightforward, iconoclastic manner. The old gentleman is disgruntled about the way the modern youth behave – but he is entirely biased, as though he has something personal against young people. He finds a suitable candidate for the tenancy, but rejects him out of pure prejudice against Muslims. He abhors a group of bikers solely on the grounds of being young. He labels them as a bunch of pleasure-seeking show-offs. However, when some miscreants break into his and his wife’s home, it is the same group of young bikers who step in and prevent the robbery with one of them sustaining injuries to his person. In the end, the old gentleman realizes that he has been wrong all along. He admits that he should not have misjudged all young people as irresponsible and inconsiderate.

This play shows us how prejudice based on social typecasting is an entirely negative attitude and is detrimental to varying degrees. We cannot, and must not try, to evaluate individuals out of preconceived notions about their social category. This only limits the positive potential of what humans can achieve.

Positivity for Peace

Talking about cultural diversity through the ages is Liona Hotta, a singer, musician and composer from Spain. She thinks that peace is primarily based on the principle of “live and let live”. We must also have basic respect and love for other people. She also makes a crucial point about how you can never make peace looking backwards. You have to be forward looking in order to make matters better. Live by whatever you’ve been educated to live by. This is her central philosophy.

Liona is an Israeli born is Asia to a Hungarian father, and a Romanian mother. She is married to a Japanese man. This has various racial historical connotations but Liona is a soul who does not discriminate against anyone, male or female, or based on their national or religious background.

In spite of being such a positive and optimistic person, she does face challenges. As a woman, she faces barriers in social interactions, and as an Israeli, she is subjected to prejudice. She grew up in a kibbutz community living set up, and has close ties with friends and family. She strongly believes in the power of spreading positive energy, and finds that it works with everything.

FAKE NEWS, the modern ADOLF HITLERs and the ensuing Holocaust

 

The world has marked the freedom of the press- or recognised how it has failed to in the past year, protect the very ‘watchdogs’ in our society.  The day’s relevance can in no terms be underestimated, especially in a time when journoseverywhere continue to suffer prosecution.

In the Reporters without borders report of 2018, it had been estimated that 84 media practitioners suffered deaths in connection with their work, with 66 of such being recognised journalists. (The numbers differ depending on your source: refer to Amnesty International)

Already in 2019, ten journalists have suffered death – 174 others are imprisoned with 167 non-journalist whose works are connected to the practice suffering imprisonment across the globe.

The picture, as painted above, gives much credence to the importance the World Press Freedom Day, as has been celebrated yesterday.  Much in particular is the decision to focus attention on democracy as reflected in this year’s theme of “Media for Democracy.”

A solid democracy, in my opinion, is one which is built on information accessibility- This is only achievable in the presence of a free press within a robust media environment. The threat, however, to this is disinformation.

In a news report carried by the Associated Press, the rising tide of the phenomenon of fake news was said to have dominated discussions at the World Press Freedom day event staged in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Apparently, the concern of all is, the world’s democracy is being threatened.

Fake news is obvious- I shudder to say it has lived with us since the world’s foundations were set in place.  No one deserves blame but ourselves for its prominence in today’s age, especially, with our insatiability at sharing anything message, without little efforts at verification.

In our urge to unmake the perceived enemy, we grab every opportunity to spread falsehoods about him (enemy), even without sparing a minute to read in-between the lines for the truth.

We have become too simple-minded, assuming truth at face-value without considering the repercussions for not fact-checking.The attitude of assuming truth at face-value does not only threaten democracy but peace anywhere.

Fake news’ emergence can’t be hung on the neck of any modern man, but all. It might have gained prominence with the elections that brought the Donald Trump administration into office, as it’s widely presumed, but the term is only a reinvention in my opinion.

If anything at all, the genesis of what we currently sugar-coat as fake news can be traced to the days of Adolf Hitler. He institutionalised it, making devastating gains of it by racking one of the deadliest havocs to have been recorded in the annals of humanity, the Holocaust.

Call it propaganda, but it sounds better as disinformation. If it was bad then, it’sworse today.

Whatever his motivation, he achieved it by preying on the minds of the simpletons of his generation to achieve his end.

The Holocaust, as infamous as it was is a by-product of the modern day fake news.  And no one can claim distaste for it, without distasting fake news. In my layman’s understanding, fake news is nothing but a reinvention of the ideology that “make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

Indeed, “all propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of all the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”

If there’s anything to be happy about, then it should be in the fact that a man like Hitler never existed in our generation, especially, considering the havoc he rained on humanity with media in its simplest form. What couldn’t he have achieved with it in its current glamorous state?

Propaganda, as well as fake news, thrives on the media, numbers and simpletons. Simpletons who take truth at a face-value. And this is the import of my write-up, we have become to simple-minded, critiquing nothing- sadly, believing anything.

How can do we stop the modern craze in the name of ‘likes and shares’, so that the fears, as exercised by world leaders at the Ethiopia World Press Freedom does not become a reality?

Let’s shun being hypocrites since fake news thrives on reach and numbers when it doesn’t get the shares (retweet, hashtag, forwarding) it wouldn’t get the desired reach.

Let’s be critical- let’s question the motivation behind the meme, the trending videos, hate speech and the defamatory texts. The fact that it speaks evil of the people you are opposed to ideologically, religiously or politically doesn’t it make it factual.

Quoting the tech guru Jaron Lanier, I would admonish we avoid the ‘wisdom of the crowd.’ The fact that the text, video or meme received massive shares doesn’t authenticate it. Don’t follow the masses in popularising the untruth.

Regardless of the iota of truth in the message, its tendency to harm any democratic space makes it a disinformation.  Let’s not give it a ‘leg’ to gain the unnecessary reach.

You can’t hate Hitler but be a participant in sharing fake news. The new Holocaust upon us is heralded by fake news, the earlier we stop it, the best for all. Otherwise, we shall once again send the world to its knees.