Posts Tagged ‘Global Issues’

Under the Eyes of God: The Conflict Between What is Right and What is Holy

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Throughout this semester, my studies have expanded my understandings of global issues—broadening my perspective to discover the many dimensions of social controversies that once seemed so unbending. As I have been exploring the depth of our global discord, I have come to realize our good fortune often blinds us from the harsh realities that exist outside our sheltered customs. In turn, our coddled society has created a fractured perspective on the world around us. Our censored views lead us to overlook cultural and social circumstances that do not personally inhibit our social norms. 


Malala Yousufzai was a visible, vocal advocate of women’s education in a culture that is sharply divided on the issue. Some people like her father, fully support the emancipation of women by being sure that they have the education to make critical choices for their lives and their lives of their families. Malala was lucky that she was born into a family with this progressive viewpoint. On the other hand, another segment of the culture is represented by very conservative Islamics who have a deep and passionate conviction rooted in their history and traditions that women should play a much more subservient role and that educating them would cut against their vision of the role. Malala was shot because an extremist of this conservative viewpoint felt that she deserved to be executed for her defiance of the traditions he thought she ought to abide by.


To us, as Americans, the issue seems so simple.  We live in a democratic society where most oppressive gender issues have been resolved, specifically the right to an education. It is hard for us to fathom how one in this day and age could take on such a repressive tradition. It is even more disturbing that a member of that culture could seek to kill her for asserting what we would think of as a fundamental human right.


But if one views this from the perspective of people who have grown up in and have been fully immersed in these ideas and traditions about women, it is possible to understand how he could believe that it was not only his right, but his religious duty to uphold his traditions. As the line of ethics begins to blur, we struggle with invalidating either side of the argument. Who are we to excuse the oppression of women as tradition? Who are we to stop their means of religious or cultural expression? The problem is, is that when ones’ religious traditions conflict with fundamental human rights, we must become universalists even if it means limiting the way individuals within religions try to express and enforce their deepest beliefs.


Examples of religion that has had the clash between individual religious and cultural convictions have been forbidden in favor of the broader human rights approach. The United States banned polygamy even though the Mormon culture found it to be a violation of their religious beliefs. The British government put an end to the Hindu practice, Suttee (the burning of the widow). Currently, we are still attempting to stop the tradition of female mutilation, which has been affecting well over 120 million women within Asia and Africa. Malala’s case is just another example of religious influence hindering human rights.


As Eleanor Roosevelt says, ““All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” We must provide every individual with the opportunity to use their own reasoning to form their beliefs yet we must be sure their beliefs will not interfere with the rights or dignity of anyone else. Education is the stepping-stone to a universal understanding of human rights. We must expose ourselves to the world around us in order to progress as a global society, not just as our own cultural niche.

By Abrielle Josephson

Works Cited






“The Deaf Speaking To the Deaf:” A Critique on Politics

In Uncategorized on September 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Republican Sound Bite. Democratic Sound Bite.

Imagine the usual cliché. Two people meet, most likely possible mates, and their initial attraction to one another invites them into harmless discourse. After an hour, or maybe even two, it has become evident to both people that this is a good match. After a tenuous start filled with awkward moments they were both surprised and delighted with how smooth and easy it went. It seemed too good to be true. Their mutual love for dogs, the outdoors, and their shared guilty pleasure for TLC reality TV shows has established respect for both mates. Further discussion ensues and now they are not only amazed by their commonalities but each other’s intelligence. Now that recognized respect begins to enter dangerous waters as they begin to talk about socially heavier matters. And now it’s as if all the attraction and respect the two have begun to develop for one another is about to be thrown overboard now that person 1 knows that person 2 is a Republican. The opposed thinkers began to ask themselves “could I really live with someone who is so wrong?”

How different are we from these two people who will disregard all the respect that they have taken the time to construct for one another just because of their contrasting political views? The question of whether people can like and respect someone, even with someone they disagree with is at the heart of a phenomenon that has turned into a social disease threatening our political system.

It seems that as a society we are fragmenting because we emphasize our differences rather than our commonalities and these differences define us and prevent us from seeking accommodation and understanding. They distort our judgments of each other inducing us to think of those who disagree with us as stupid or evil.

“People confuse the intensity of their beliefs with the likelihood that they are right.”

–Michael Josephson 

As I have been budding out of my youth, I have been invited to participate in adult discussions—and due to our current election, the diverse and often contemptuously articulated opinions of our running candidates fans the flames of partisanship.

No one really listens or considers what the other side is saying except to formulate a new put down—I’ve gotten pretty good at that myself.

I have personally observed extremely intelligent people descend to insults rather than insights during political discussions.

I have grown to understand we are unfortunately accustomed to allowing our political views to dictate our opinion of a person’s morality and intelligence.

You're Not Stepping On It Right

My father is an ethicist—don’t feel bad if you don’t know what that means, most don’t—and he had a radio show where he was given every morning to voice his opinion on any matter he chose. So hearing my father publically announce his beliefs became a routine and taught me to fearlessly share opinions of my own. But as I have become more educated and passionate about my beliefs, I have found it hard to not immediately disregard opposing views.

In one of my dad’s radio commentaries he discussed this problem with a name: blind partisanship. He said, “Blind partisanship is a toxic disease that threatens to destroy our democracy. It turns politics into and endless competition and generates a win/lose mentality that does not allow for compromise. This is fatal since the most pressing issues of our day are bound to generate disagreements that are is so wide and certain that compromise is essential.”

It’s one thing to share our political opinions but it’s not helpful if all we do shut down the conflicting views. These turns would be a discourse into a battle and produces the fallacy that political positions are about right and wrong rather than just opinions on what is right and wrong. What’s worse, we use these opinions as a measure of one’s character and intellect.

We have allowed ourselves to disregard the fact that political opinions not only deal with ethics, but accessibility as well.

Ms. Burney, do we have anything on right and wrong?

Seeing everything in the binary light of good and bad, or even right and wrong, prevents us from seeing the multi-dimensions of politics. The goal of politics is to find a solution, but because we are unable to address the complexities of the issues, including the possibility that differing views may be right and the necessity of democracy that we find compromise solutions, we ultimately never find a solution at all.

It seems to me that before we can even tackle controversial issues in politics, we must stop associating our beliefs with truth. If not, we see everything only through the lens of our pre-existing opinions – that’s a form of prejudice.

“There was a universal language in the world that everyone understood … It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”

– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

We must realize that there are other lenses that cause us to see different things. Ours is just one of the many ways you can look at that problem. Blind partisanship has hindered the progression of our society and has altered the meaning of compromise to become equivalent to a lack of integrity. We must realize that honor does not require stubbornness or close-mindedness or arrogance.

If we truly listen to and seriously try to understand the values and beliefs of those we disagree with, we may find that we actually have more common ground than we think and we may be able to find solutions we can all live with. If not, at least we can realize that even smart and good people can disagree with us.

Incidentally, those two potential mates have learned to tolerate their differences and celebrate their commonalities and they’ve been happily married for 23 years—they go by the names of Mary Matalin and James Carville and their living proof that blind partisanship can be overcome.

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The War in Afghanistan: Where Do We Stand?

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2011 at 4:53 pm

On October 21st, United States President, Barack Obama, announced that most US troops will be “home for the holidays” from Iraq. He states that the “tide of war is receding,” referring to the two wars the US are currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what does this mean for the War Against Terrorism in Afghanistan that has just passed its 10th anniversary?

To this day, life in Afghanistan continues to be highly characterized by two independent, yet intertwined, military and political groups: Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Both organizations believe in a government that strictly controls religious and social freedoms — for example, the Taliban forces women to wear burqas in public and Al Qaeda recruits young muslims to overthrow un-Islamic regimes (The Cheers).

The Huffington Post reports a Taliban suicide bombing attack in Kabul, Afghanistan — a car filled with explosives was driven into a NATO bus, killing 17. This attack was one of 12 suicide bombing attacks in Kabul in the last year alone, “an apparent campaign to weaken confidence in the Afghan government as it prepares to take over its own security ahead of a 2014 deadline for the U.S. and other NATO countries to withdraw their troops or move them into support roles” (The Huffington Post). Kamir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals, reported that this attack took the lives of four Afghans, including two children, while leaving eight other Afghans, also including two children, wounded.

Although troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan, it is clear from the story above the US has not finished its job there. The Al-Qaeda and the Taliban still remain powerful and omnipresent, therefore the US remains stern on abolishing these terrorist attacks. Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Afghanistan live in the fear that they may fall victim to these heinous acts of terror. 10 years later, significant progress has been made, but the job is still not finished.

To read more about Obama’s announcement of the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq, check out this article!

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