Posts tagged Plato

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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Thoughts on Leadership (Part II)

These thoughts are not my own but what I compiled from Central Asian students answering a question about what THEY think good leadership is.  I haven’t had time to check to see if the quotes they took out of books or off the Internet are accurate, if my dear readers find one that is out of line, please comment.  I’ll be quick to make a correction. I write that caveat because I checked a quote several years ago that was supposedly a Kyrgyz proverb and it turned out to be classic Karl Marx.

First of all, leaders must be good orators. If you see the history of leadership you can see that each leader had a good oratorical talent that made people do things not with threats, but just with their speech.  We know Bobur, one of the famous Uzbek leaders, because he built up a great empire.  Thanks to his oratorical talent he had encouraged his army before the fight against India and won it, although the number of his soldiers was 20 times fewer than his enemies…I think Amir Temur as one of the great leaders.  He was also known as one of the best orators in his time.  He was the master of his work.  I mean, he knew in advance what would happen next from a situation.  Once when he was going to fight against soldiers he had few soldiers.  Then he made a good tactic by ordering soldiers to tie branch of trees to their horses. While riding horses with branch of trees toward enemies, the soldiers of Temur frightened enemies who saw dust from distance and thought the number of soldiers is larger than theirs.  Temur’s obstinacy gave him a chance to build p Temurids Empire.  There was a big fight between Mongols and him, called “Loy jangi” for Tashkent.  Although he lost the fight, thanks to his obstinacy, he was able to squeeze out Mongols from the city later.

Bill Gates “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Motto: “Today you are a reader, tomorrow you are a leader.”

Marcus Aurelius – “Waste no more time arguing what a good leader should be.  Be one.”

George Patton “leaders are willing to make decisions.”

Lao Tzu “To lead the people, walk behind them.”

William Penn “No man is fit to command another who cannot command himself.”

Plato “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”

Russian saying: “He who does not risk, will never drink champagne.”

Tamurlane “It is better to die than to kneel.”  “Power is justice.” Tamurlane awarded soldiers according to their service.

Kurtsy “Army without a commander is a body without a soul”

Thomas Jefferson “All management skills consist in the art to be fair.”

Carrie Ann Tajaran; “A good leader directs the path to success and let his followers use their own skills and knowledge in achieving it.”

Stephen Covey “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Friedrich Nietzsche “To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult.”

Famous Am. Business leader and writer Harold R.McAlindon “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

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