Archive for September 23, 2011

Unexamined Lives and Pursuit of Truth about Slavery

“The unexamined life is not worth living” is something Socrates was known to have said. I believe we all need to examine our assumptions about slavery and sex trafficking. I just did a Slavery Footprint survey that figures out how many slaves work for you in the products you use or eat and the clothes and shoes you wear. According to this survey, I got 22. I think the norm for North Americans is 44. Eventually I would hope that I would have NO slaves working for me in this globalized economy.  I need to re-examine what products I use.  Would that mean I have to give up using my computer all together? Maybe…

Plato also is known to talk a lot about education in “The Republic,” especially about those who are worthy to rule a nation (Book VII). His main point was that those students who learn to rule should know how to “think critically, understand definitions, compare concepts, seek reasons and critique and defend different views in conversation.”  I would hope that Central Asian students studying under western practices would catch this and run with it.

In this blog I’ve “started the conversation” about human trafficking and human rights issue ever since I read the book “Two Kyrgyz Women.”  The author Marinka Franolovic wrote me the other day and gave me several links about a woman journalist in Mexico.  She said she had met Lydia Cacho about five years ago who has been leading her crusade against sex trafficking of children in Cancun.  Brave woman.

Yes, people don’t want to be challenged in their thinking.  John Churchill in an article he wrote in “Phi Beta Kappa, The Key Reporter” (Vol.76, No. 3, Fall 2011) wrote the following:

“Plato thought overcoming this problem was a matter of age and training.  But some old dogs never overgrow young stunts.  The real question is this: “What differentiates mere pulling and tearing from the dialogical pursuit of truth?

The answer is: the aim of the interlocutors….[in the case of the global sex trade]…this isn’t the pursuit of truth.  It’s a contest of will and power.  Plato thought that you could overcome the competitive emphasis on winning the argument by bringing people to love the truth.”

I’m troubled that there are many uninformed people who don’t want to enter the conversation and know the truth about slavery in the 21st century. They would prefer to think that slavery was abolished after the Civil War in the 1800s.  They would like to think that Wilberforce was forceful enough in his dogged determination to end slavery in U.K. and the rest of the British empire.  Not so. Read the following:

Dr. Jack Mezirow, professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, believes that an essential element in adult learning is to challenge our own ingrained perceptions and examine our insights critically. Dr. Mezirow says that adults learn best when faced with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma”—something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired” (Barbara Strauch, The New York Times). This is the opposite of saying, “My mind is made up—don’t confuse me with the facts.”

I would hope that the young university students in Kazakhstan would be open to learn what they can about the tragedy of slavery which is happening in their own country and the rest of Central Asia.  They are the future leaders of Kazakhstan, I know they keep hearing that over and over again at the new university in Astana.  However, I believe there are old dogs in high places that are using the same stunts that they learned under the Soviet system to keep the truth down.  They would prefer that the populace NOT know about slavery that is taking place right in Central Asia.  May the pursuit of truth be captivating and held captive instead of people!

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