Why I’d Vote For Corbyn

Professor Noam Chomsky speaks to BBC Newsnight to discuss the anger which has raged across the Middle and Working Classes of Western democracies since the economic collapse in 2008.

Discussing the roots of the anger, the rise of far right nationalism as well as the optimistic signs of youth galvanisation around progressive policies on climate change and income inequality – Chomsky discusses why he would vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the UK general election in the context of Brexit.

This is a riveting interview from one of the words best known progressive public intellectuals and gives some interesting insights into the global order and future of western democracy.

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What Would Elon Musk Be Working On If He Was 22?

Inventor, Entrepreneur and Englineer discusses what he views as the most important work to be doing if he was a young person in 2017.

Musk has been at the centre of the conversation around artificial intelligence and sustainable energy consumption over the past 15 years. He is ranked the 21st most influential people in the world and his current company SpaceX are working on a project to eventually allow humans to colonise Mars.

Why Millennials Can’t be Happy 

Simon Sinek explores the reasons why Millenials are getting a bad reputation. From growing up with a toxic addiction to social media to the sense of entitlement which is cultivated in today’s youth through instant gratification and pampering.

This talk is a riveting insight into the potential damage of overuse of social media at a young age and poses some stark questions about how young people today will cope with the harshness of the working world.

Battle of the Ages: Stuck in Reverse

Author: Revels

In Pakistan, one’s life revolves around what is socially acceptable or unacceptable. Growing up, a person is expected to agree to whatever he is being told, to comply with whatever decisions are made for him, to silently nod at what the ‘elders’ of the family think is right.

Before I start, I’d like to make clear that though the situation is improving somewhat, we still live in a way more primitive world than we should. The main problem we need to tackle is for our older generation to listen and understand the younger one.

This system has been in place for as long as anyone can remember and only a very small group of people have had the courage to speak out, despite some of them meeting horrific ends. Putting your foot down in the face of such opposition as your family is a very difficult thing to do in Pakistan where the majority of one’s social life consists of family, including cousins, aunts, uncles and the whole bunch.

People are somewhat used to living like this, but in this day and age, where one has access to what happens over the entire globe, our younger generations need their own space and demand the right to their own opinions. Where lots of families have been understanding and have recognized what is called for, most have been unyielding, with egos overcoming common sense. Children have resorted to sneaky ways to accomplish what they couldn’t have had they discussed it with their families.

Being an Islamic Republic, at least by name, Islamic values and morals are given their due importance. Nothing is forced, things like the hijab are not made compulsory as they are in some other Islamic states, but there are a couple of issues which, traditions combined with religious obligations, have become a social norm, and sadly, an issue of ‘honour’.

For instance, segregation is preferred. The strange thing about the way it is observed is that it builds to the frustration of the youth, questions like why can’t I talk to him? or what is so bad about hanging around with a girl? pop up in their minds as the segregation followed in Pakistan is not absolute separation. Girls and boys will share the same classrooms, the same buses, the same cafeterias, but they just will not talk to each other. This introduces a rather awkward situation because if people do eventually break that social taboo and talk to the other gender, the older generations immediately flash them the red light.

This, naturally, leads to an irritation invisible to the ‘elders’ who make all the ‘right’ decisions for the youth.

With the rising LGBT support around the world, Pakistan has seen its own LGBT cases number higher than ever before. The funny thing is, our elder generation will swear to this not being the case, as religiously and culturally it is not accepted.

But where there’s a will there’s a way, right? Men and women will marry whoever the family approves of, because marriage is another decision that only the ‘elders’ can make, though they try to make sure the people they are being betrothed to are like them. As a result, we have couples who live heterosexual lives in public but homosexual ones in reality, and this double minded society of people can only lead itself to disturbing consequences.

The question that we face is, though, will the obvious oblivion really solve what issues we have? Are we not living in a rather hypocritical little bubble? We’ve advanced from primitive thinking but we haven’t let go of our egotistical supposition that all is well as long as the elders are obeyed. Our elders try to implement religion to enforce what they believe is the definition of honour; they do not speak of what is religiously right or wrong, and do not listen when the youth tries to tell them about it. So do they really know what is best?

Our society, unfortunately, is still quite patriarchal, with men usually exploiting religion to their advantage, forgetting the whole package. Strangely, the same men who rule the household will turn into the very perverted souls that they try to keep their women ‘safe’ from when they walk out into the street. Is that really fair? A woman, no matter what she looks like, will be subjected to stares and cat calls. This isn’t even anything startling anymore because everyone is so accustomed to it.

Why be accustomed to something so gross?

Now the plot twist thickens, though. These same women will go home and still defend their sons and give them a preferential treatment! They will pray for their brothers, spoil them in the littlest ways and shower them with praise and love.

Yes, our world makes very little sense.

How do we get our elders to listen and sympathise? To think beyond what they feel is good and a happy solution to what is otherwise unacceptable to their, at times, absurd social standards? To be honest, I’m not so sure how myself, but to speak out in hopes of catching their attention might be one way. Philosophies ingrained over lifetimes are hard to shake, but bringing acceptability and acknowledgement is what is required at this moment. How long will it take? We have to try and find out.

Revels is a Pakistani student, blogger & contributing writer at The Conversation Room. 

You can visit her excellent blog here:

https://identity17.wordpress.com/

Attitudes in Africa Toward Mental Illness

Author: Lorna Likiza

As a visitor to the African continent, you may quickly realise that mentally ill persons roam the streets in the midst of normal functioning individuals and nobody seems to bat an eyelid. It may appal you this high level of insensitivity. However, in your quest to understand why Africans seem so casual about mental illness, your efforts will quickly prove futile.

I live in Nairobi, a capital city in the East African nation of Kenya and every single day, while I’m out and about running my errands or working, I must encounter at least 3 mentally ill persons reduced to a life of hopelessness on the street. The confusion and extent of their condition evident on their faces and hygiene levels.

While other working class Kenyans walk by elegantly dressed in their office or casual wear, leaving behind whiffs of designer perfumes, one or two mentally ill persons will occasionally pass by, mumbling incoherently in dirty tattered clothes and wild hair. It makes you wonder if they came into existence in this world alone seeing that Africans highly value the family unit. Don’t they have brothers and sisters to enrol them into a mental facility and make sure they are catered for?

In the years I have resided in Nairobi, I only know of one exclusively mental institution, Mathare hospital. But Kenyans will often make fun of the medical facility. A clear evidence of just how much Africans do not take mental health as serious as their Western counterparts do. It is not entirely uncommon to hear stories of how some of these mentally ill persons who live on the streets are in fact highly educated individuals.

But we give reasons as to why they are in that situation. Mostly Africans will associate mental illness with witchcraft. If not witchcraft, then drugs and alcohol. But nobody seems to want to be in a position where they can help these mentally ill persons, regardless of what situation drove them into this current state.

I recently saw a young man dirty and barefoot ramble on and on incoherently. Surprisingly, he was in the company of a smartly dressed male. I was curious to find out what was happening so I did some enquiry. The story was the same. Apparently, his companion was in fact a childhood friend. They had schooled together. Then I heard about how his family was well off and how learned he was with an Engineering Course. But there was a catch, alcohol had made him the way he was.

So I tried to question why he was not in rehab and this guy, who was giving me the information quickly scoffed at my inquiry and stated firmly that the young man in question was not an alcoholic. Africans many times do not believe in alcoholism even though the evidence of overindulging is there for everyone to see. We do not believe that alcoholism is a disease just like any other that can be treated. We do not believe that alcoholism can drive a person to become mental incapacitated.

But I was still curious. I proceeded to ask what his family – that were supposedly wealthy – were doing about it and I again received an appalling answer. His family were tired of him. And the solution according to this guy I was speaking to was to pay the young man’s fare back home to the village or the policeman’s bullet to end his life. And the way he said it was callous and too casual. However, I do not blame him.

Africa has a long way to go in changing its attitude toward mental illness. We need to stop associating mental illness with witchcraft. Our respective governments need to invest more in the mental facilities. We need more doctors studying psychiatry. Indeed many African medical students steer clear from specialising in psychiatry instead focusing on other specialisations under medicine.

The sad situation therefore continues being evident every single day with the large number of homeless mentally ill persons. Some, mothers with young children that they have no ability whatsoever to take care of in their states. These young mentally ill women are especially vulnerable to normal functioning individuals with a warped sense, who decide to take advantage sexually of them. You may be surprised to learn, at the orders of a witch-doctor with promises of getting cured of certain illnesses if they bed a mentally ill woman.

The young woman will then fall pregnant on the streets and eventually give birth to a normal child who is under the care of a mentally unstable individual. This should be a wake up call to social workers as well as Africans in a position to lend help. Often times, these little children are taken away by well-wishers and placed into orphanages. But what about the mother?

Wouldn’t it have been better if she equally got placed in a mental institution, assigned a personal therapist and got the necessary medication? Perhaps she may end up well enough to eventually be reunited with her child/children.

In my argument, I’m not implying that Africa has not done anything toward mental illness. There are facilities for it and specialists who know what they are doing. However, the idea that just about anyone can offer counseling to someone regardless of whether they are trained on it or not needs to go. We need to do away with volunteer counselors who have no clue whatsoever on what psychiatry entails. We need to place more emphasis on mental health. We need to change our deeply entrenched attitudes toward mental illness. Only then, will change be effected.

Lorna Likiza is a Kenyan blogger & business owner who writes about Societal issues, in particular those relating to Women. 

You Can Visit Lorna’s Blog Here:

https://definitelylorna.wordpress.com/

Do Millennials Confuse “Clicktivism” with Real Activism?

In this short clip of Intelligence Squared’s debate “Millennials Don’t Stand A Chance” the speakers discuss the modern generations attitude to activism.

If Martin Luther King was marching in 2016 would thousands of people click attending on Facebook only not to show up on the day? Has the Millennial generation become more naive by social media or do they have the same traits as previous generations only magnified and documented in an online medium?

Why You Must Be Made To Feel Uncomfortable

In this short clip for Big Think comedy genius John Cleese, most famous for writing and starring in the BBC’s Monty Python describes the demise of journalism and tyranny of “being offended” culture in suggesting that people should be shielded from questions or ideas contrary to their own.

Cleese speaks of the danger of a new generation growing up believing they should never feel offended or have their values questioned. However, he believes it is only by constantly challenging authority & mainstream thought that society achieves equitable nuance and grows constructively toward justice, otherwise unchallenged opinion becomes regressive, tedious dogma.