I scanned the news today and was taken back that an NBA team executive put out a tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters while the NBA is dealing with mainland China. The second is a case of shipping out someone in trouble under the guise of diplomatic immunity. I am talking about the tragic case of a woman who fled great Britain after hitting a young man on his motorcycle.
The first case with Hong Kong had me flashing back to my German friend and I discussing the reality that Hong Kong will assimilate to mainland china in a few years. I commented that I was amazed the mainland was showing more restraint than I thought they would. My friend was in an uproar about freedom and democracy, and while I agree with him that Hong Kong was one of the more amazing mystical places on the planet, I felt that Singapore had become that safe harbor for Asia, and the mainland China is probably going to prop shanghai up in time, over Hong Kong.
To westerners. We are gaijin (japan ) or gweilo (china) with most of Asia. The other part is we come from a western society wherein the united states we are allowed the ability to say or act the fool and be protected by some constitutional freedoms. Much of the world is NOT like this.
Being an expat is more comfortable to navigate on the globe as you tend to hang out with expats from other countries and band together. My experience in immigrating to another country had me thing "this can't be that hard, I have traveled the planet." yet, the reality of it was the cultural, behavioral, societal, legal and customs had me feeling like anyone coming to America with a suitcase and a dream. The difference is that you aren't allowed to freely dream in a lot of the world. It is a gift we take for granted in the united states.
I had high hopes that the internet and the idea from Tim Berners-Lee that the world would become more democratic as the information was allowed to flow. This did exist, albeit short life when the nerds of the world were wondering, "wow, what an amazing tool! the entire world can connect!"
fast forward a few dozen years and the reality Ethan Zuckerman saw that the internet was really great for like-minded people to find each other, yet, dissimilar people would not have to come together so much, and you have the internet we have today. while it is global, don't let the switches between locations on the planet that can be turned on and off at any moment, nor the large tech giants who are all too happy to commoditize their ROI to shareholders by providing the switches to whatever ideology or leadership.
There used to be a site I loved called the internet public library. www.ipl.org, that was the place I would go to read all the various newspapers from around the planet to see the many differences in how different political groups reported the same news. I loved it in that you could hear the various stories, and somehow the idea of truth came out in from within all of them. This reality is lost in the USA with uber polarized media and the sad reality that both sides of the media trough are probably just as guilty and corrupt as the other, yet, each is waving its ethical and moral flags and banners and telling everyone how great they are.
Sorry, I digressed. The largest version of augmanity, and the one that started all the tools was an idea that could change the world. It has been distilled down to allow me to change myself, and today, I figure we can deploy the tools and give a person a choice to change. When you get to the global scale of data, I don't know many humans that are capable of handling that responsibility with the power of controlling all that data. How much money does any one human really need?
So truth? It is somewhere in the middle of the polar opposites. Very rarely is it pure black or white. Usually, in our complex world, you have a lot of various attachments, of which you might pull one string in Washington, dc and several others might be affected in Paris, Berlin, Beijing, Iraq, Sydney, and Moscow. It is just the reality of how the geopolitical world works. Currently, we are heading back to a model that was before the "new media" ideology that journalists were spewing in the early '90s, and who are all out of jobs as the powers that be have allowed for a few companies to control most all of what people hear and see. Btw, that is how a lot of the world actually works with countries and the official media or party line.
So back to the NBA guy sending a tweet. I don't' think many Americans realize that Asia has a lot of patience and is a culture built on relationships over time. Most of us are clueless about life in mainland China. I only saw the reality of something similar when the wall fell in Europe, and you looked at the creepiness of life with STASSI.
don't laugh, it doesn't matter what political ideology of a country, the tools available today for ambient or in your face surveillance society are thriving.
my problem is that few humans are evolved enough to really not be corrupted by the allure of power and the trappings of the feed buffet of vices available at the top levels.
I guess you watch and learn this by traveling and working in so many different countries. It also makes it difficult or impossible to say any one space on the planet is perfect. The reality is none is. Many have some amazing strengths at the trade-off, others have put a lot of makeup and not dealt with their issues, and there are a few that I wonder how it would be to grow up and live in a place where your options are minuscule.
To the NBA executive, here is a simple fact about the USA. We are 5% of the globe's population, we consume up to 25% of the world's resources for our consumerist lifestyle, and we produce about 30% of the planet's trash. We have a short term attention span. To put this in context, the population of Asia is about 60% of the earth, and they have a different view of time and building things. Much of the world's view of the USA comes from our exports of weapons, food, and entertainment. I always joked we either bomb, feed, or make you smile.
I still remember the cab driver in Columbia asking me, "senior, are the streets of America really paved in gold?"
There is nothing wrong with not knowing, I think there is plenty wrong with not seeking, learning, changing, and growing. Asking, "why?" is not a bad thing. Living in ignorance is.
Perhaps that is my lead into the second story of a diplomats wife leaving the UK. I have gotten some heartburn with abuses of diplomatic immunity with the UN delegates in new york. The reality is that I wager for every one story that is reported, there might be 50 that are unreported. How many issues, parking tickets, or crimes are covered up with the blanket of diplomatic immunity.
It really works much like any political, religious, organizational group – they want to protect themselves, as the image of the organization supersedes the people that comprise it. Inside the USA, the organization of a corporation is deemed to be a human, but the people running it, usually are exempt from its actions. In law enforcement, there is the blue line, in religion and corporations, you have people handling things "internally." with governments, people can simply vanish with the resources and deep pockets.
there is nothing really new in history in that the people at the top tend to saddle the burden with laws and rules of the masses below them.
Maybe I am an idiot, or I still have a bit of an ideology that some teachers presented to me as a young boy. it is the words of the declaration of independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights."
and then you throw in
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
These are two pretty simple phrases that I struggle with each day to grow into this person. What I realize is that the world isn't going to change, until people actually do. The sad reality is that the human condition will continue into the future.
But I do wonder, "will advanced AI and the machines of the future come to a place where it tells humanity, "you have to change and work on the pride, ego, greed, and lust for power…if you want to survive. if you don't, well, then you are the planet's biggest threat, and we will have to take action!"
Sorry for the long ramble. I look out at life and think, "it really can be quite simple and beautiful." and then I wonder, "why do we feel the more we complicate it, the better it will become?"
I think the biggest issue with people is that we want to believe we are right, but few are comfortable with the idea that they might, in fact, be wrong? Just a thought.