Erenlai - Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名
Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名

Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名


There are the rights we are entitled to exercise, and the inner freedom we struggle for throughout our existence. Freedom, in the diversity of its social and personal manifestations, is something we all cherish and strive for. How can medias, politics or schools nurture liberty humanism and pluralism while adapting to new technological and social conditions? Here we explore how to make proper use of the freedoms we all value so much.

人權、學習權、言論發表權、投票權,這種種自由與民主的產物讓人學會了什麼?又遺忘了什麼?當我們一心爭取這可貴的各種權利時,我們的對己身的責任、他人的尊重以及社會的參與同樣也提升了嗎?

週四, 21 二月 2008

The Election That Nearly Everybody Lost

Once upon a time it was election year. The two major political parties were gearing up for the fall campaign. There were five issues that everybody considered important. The White Party was currently in power. They insisted that on every issue the status quo was right on track. They claimed that everyone should vote for them to make sure that nothing would change. The Black Party was the opposition party. They claimed that on every issue the status quo was deficient. They insisted that everybody should vote for them, so that everything could be changed.

Except for a few die-hards on both sides, nobody believed that on every issue everything was OK the way it was and nobody believed that on every issue there was nothing that was OK the way it was. So one day someone proposed a Gray Party. It would change only the issues that needed change and leave the rest the way they were. It looked for a moment that everyone would flock to that party. But the idea quickly fizzled out. It was impossible to reach a common agreement on which issues to change or how they should change.

Consequently, each party was flooded with candidates. Each campaigned on the one issue they considered most important to protect or the one most necessary to change. There were fierce national debates and fortunes were spent on advertising. On primary election days the turnouts reached record-breaking highs.

To everyone’s surprise, the candidates selected at the national conventions were those originally least expected to win. They were the only ones who had campaigned with no platform at all. They had only promised that the traditional values of their parties would guide them in making the right decisions at the right time.

The candidates of the Black and White Parties ran neck to neck in all the polls right up to election day eve. The only trend in the polls had been that more and more of the electorate were undecided. Bookies were raking in millions of dollars in wagers. Tensions were high.

The whole world anxiously held its breath in front of its television screens. Watching the election returns, they couldn’t believe their eyes. Neither major candidate won. There had been a maverick Senator who ran in every election as an Independent. This time in the closing weeks of the campaign he had repeated ad nauseam a single message: “If you can’t decide which party to vote for, vote for me. I embody the best of both parties.” He must have hit a nerve because he narrowly squeaked out a victory by winning well in a few key areas that had been undecided.


There are lessons hidden here.

If you can’t beat them, don’t join them,
just wait until they join you.


Don’t count your votes before they’re cast.

There is nothing all white
and nothing all black.
There is nothing gray
without its share of black and white.

It is impossible to vote for the best,
because usually the best
are not up for election.

And even if they were,
how would you know that they are the best,
if they haven’t been elected yet.

An election is like a lottery,
because you never know who is going to win.

An election is never like a lottery,
because it is not left to chance.

It’s nice if your candidate wins,
but the country doesn’t lose
if someone else is elected.

Attached media :
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週四, 21 二月 2008

Me and my vote

One of the hallmarks of democracy as described by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address is that it is a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. “Of the people”, that is, not just the nobility or some privileged class, but potentially everybody; “by the people”, that is, it is the people through their representatives who plan the policies, make the decisions and carry out the policies; “for the people”, that is, for the benefit of all, not just the rich or those in power.

Of course, no democracy would work if it required the full participation of all the people all the time. It would be far too unwieldly, impractical, time-consuming and difficult to arrive at consensus. The work of the government is conducted by representatives of the people who have given them the authority to act on their behalf according to the directives of the constitution and legislation.

There are three important ingredients without which a democratic nation cannot survive or function, namely suffrage, consensus, and acquiescence.

Suffrage: the right to vote. If the people do not have the right to vote, then it is no longer a government of the people but a dictatorship. But not every election is democratic. Dictators love to hold elections in which the only candidate is themselves or their specially selected supporters and the elected are free to vote “yes” and subject to retaliation if they vote “no”. The people have not really spoken; they have only listened and submitted to what they heard.

A potential weakness of the right to vote is the right not to vote. If too many of the electorate are disinterested or indifferent or too busy about their own affairs or disgusted with politics, then the door is left open for determined minorities to wield too much power or for entrenched cliques to maintain their control. If I as a responsible citizen want to exercise my duty to vote, then I also have the responsibility to keep abreast of current events and study the issues so I can vote intelligently for what I believe will be best for the nation.

Another potential weakness of the voting system is that sometimes the most qualified or potentially best leaders are not the ones who end up on the ballots. They were overwhelmed by those who had more influential supporters or more funds for advertising or more aggressive killer instincts. Too many of the little people like ourselves were silent.

Consensus: the election returns are accepted as final. The winners take up the duties for which they were selected, regardless of whatever party they represent or their stand regarding the party in power. The people have spoken and the government has listened.

Acquiescence: the results are accepted and cooperated with even by those who voted against them. Those who lose step down. Any new regulations or policies will be accepted even by those who voted against them. Opposition will not cease, nor will controversy or debate, but in the meantime everyone is moving forward in the same direction.

The important thing about a true democracy is not that everyone gets the government they want, the representatives they personally supported or the policies they hold most dear, but that everyone stands behind their elected government and works together for the common good.

What is the use of voting, if I know that I will probably be outvoted? It is because I know that if enough of all the other people who think as I do also vote, our votes might make a difference. And those who are in power or want to be in power will know that they have to take our points of view into consideration, because we will always be there with our vote.
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Bob also wrote a fable on elections

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地圖為誰說話?

Nakao Eki 撰文

《地圖會說話》
李文堯、林心雅著
時報出版
2007年11月

誠如作者在序言中引用美國Mark Monmonier教授的《如何用地圖撒謊》(How to Lie with Maps, 1996)所言,地圖雖然號稱是現實世紀的反映,卻從不曾真的忠實反映過現實世界,但永遠都誠實體現了製圖者的意念(註)。地圖就像繪畫,是以某種技巧來表達製圖者理解、詮釋世界的觀點。箇中最大的差異,在於繪畫被人視為藝術,是畫家個人意念與情感的表達,但地圖卻被視為科學的產物;而在我們這個將科學當作一種信仰來崇奉、榮耀歸於諾貝爾獎得主的時代裡,對「科學」的客觀性或權威性深信不疑(甚或敬畏),對於一個人的思考與判斷所具有的殺傷力堪稱無與倫比。
《地圖會說話》旨在以輕鬆的方式呈現許多研究者曾提出的觀念和反思。作者以各種不同類型的地圖陳述不同的主題,並且交代背後的科學,在許多環節上,都致力於邀請讀者一同認識地圖的多種語言、掌握不同地圖語言背後的邏輯,從而能夠更為自由地將地圖作為認識的工具而加以運用。但其實這本書恰好也是這些批判言論的例示之一。因為地圖事實上並不會說話,是人在替代地圖說話;即便讀者「知道」地圖表現中偏見必不可免,但箇中奧妙究竟何在,卻遠非多數讀者所能辨識,往往還是只能接受製圖者或界說者所提出的詮釋。
舉例而言,本書第五部分(氣候與環境)談到了全球暖化等氣候議題。雖然地圖本身呈現的是資訊,但搭上說明文字,這些篇章都成了警訊,提醒我們人類活動對自然引發的惡果。主流看法認為全球暖化現象罪咎在人,但也有學者指稱自然因素才是氣候變遷的主因。用一種犬儒方式來說:環境主義者有言,人類要在大自然面前學會謙卑;那麼,按照這個邏輯,人第一不該自大到以為人類活動的影響會大過太陽輻射或地磁變化,第二至少也不該特重二氧化碳減量排放的國際宣傳和政治角力,畢竟牛羊打嗝或放屁所釋出的甲烷(比二氧化碳有效二十倍的溫室氣體)到底對全球升溫有多少影響,科學界也一樣沒有定論。
簡單地說,所謂將地圖解碼,其實是拿文字語言在為地圖語言加密,當中頗不乏俗語所稱的「越描越黑」效應。有一陳腔濫調說,歷史為勝者所寫就。那地圖呢?──地圖說話,說人叫它說的話。

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註 這一點並不新鮮,在Monmonier的書出版之前數年,Denis Wood便在《地圖的權力》(The Power of Maps, 1992)中指出,關於地圖,最難以理解掌握的並不是製圖方法或量測工具,也不是複雜的地形地貌或關於其他任何主題的數據資訊,而是製圖者的偏見。
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附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/nakao_mapwhospeaks.jpg{/rokbox}

週二, 15 一月 2008

The Justice-Mongers

Here is a fable that I wrote that illustrates some of the issues involved in establishing justice.


THE JUSTICE-MONGERS


Once upon a time there was a King bright, industrious, and prosperous. He was the legendary King ABC. Everyone seemed to agree that he was a very good man. But the King himself didn’t think he was just good, he thought he was the best. The only persons he thought were good were those who liked what he liked, agreed with his opinions and did what he told them to do. Everyone else was bad. If only he could, ABC would get rid of them all. That way the whole world would only be filled with little ABC’s with him at the top, of course.

When King ABC’s wife finally became pregnant, he was filled with pride. “When my son is born, he will be twice as good as I am,” he said. But he was wrong for once. It was three times as good. His wife gave birth to triplets. He named them Triple A, Triple B and Triple C. They grew up determined to do good and to better the world.

All three sons hated war and violence. They were convinced that wars only happen because everyone wants peace the wrong way. Everyone thinks the only way to get peace is to fight for it and then fight to defend it. This has got to stop. There must be some way to make peace permanent without fighting. But each son proposed a different way of obtaining peace.

To Triple A the key to peace and prosperity was law and order. What the world needs are explicit rules and regulations very strictly enforced with no exceptions. Everybody will know exactly what to do and what not to do. And everyone who doesn’t conform will be tried and put in jail.

War was now illegal. There was no longer any need for armed forces to guard against attack. But the number of policemen grew by leaps and bounds. It wasn’t because there were more criminals or gangsters than before. It was just that there were too many regulations governing people’s lives, stifling their self-expression, restraining their aspirations and restricting their individuality and ambitions. Almost every time anyone wanted to have a good time their own way or do things differently, they found themselves arrested for some violation or other.

The more that Triple A maintained peace between nations the more difficult it became to maintain peace within the nation. Discontent and protests erupted everywhere. Soon they got out of hand and had to be put down violently. “When we do it, it isn’t violence,” a government spokesman said. “It’s enforcement.” The people yearned for the good old days. Life was so much more peaceful at home when there had been wars.

To Triple B the key to peace was justice for all. The problem was in determining in each instance where justice lay. Therefore the first thing the government had to do was to establish a long official list of people’s rights. Then it was decided that in every dispute, there would be compulsory arbitration and the decision of the mediators would be final. Justice was now defined officially as whatever the arbiters decreed. Everyone was expected to swallow his pride and humbly accept the official decisions no matter how arbitrary or unreasonable or unjust in the old sense they might be.

The results of Triple B’s policy were just as catastrophic. Everyone felt there was less justice now than in the former unjust times.

To Triple C the key to peace was equality for all. Some people have too much and don’t share with those who have nothing. Some people dress so attractively they make others look bad. The world would be more peaceful if everyone automatically got the same education, received the same salary and had the same opportunities to enjoy the fine things in life. Uniformity of dress and appearance, of language and culture, of dwellings and food, of sports and entertainment would restrain the proud and uplift the humble.

The only ones who applauded these changes were those who had absolutely nothing to begin with. Most of the people, however, had to give up something to conform to the norms and they were very unhappy. The only way the government found to maintain the new order was to create a police state.

So unfortunately, Triple C’s equality and uniformity did not create peace either. Equal education did not produce equally intelligent people. Equal opportunity did not mean equally qualified persons applied for the jobs. There were no longer good movies, only mediocre ones, and so on and so on. Everyone missed the variety and personal touches of their former lives.

King ABC was displeased with the way his three sons had messed things up. He decided to have another son. He named him Double D, since just a single D didn’t do justice to his hopes for him.

To Double D his three older brothers were all wrong. The key to peace is freedom. There will only be peace if everyone is free to be what he wants to be and to do whatever he wants to do. Of course, there must be some guidelines and some limits to what a person does, so the rights of others are respected, but let individuality reign.

If everyone is free to achieve his dreams and fulfill his aspirations, there will be peace. No one will lack anything and therefore have nothing that he needs to fight for. The talented must be free to develop their talents. The gifted must be free to exploit their gifts. The poor must be free to better their lives. The rich must be free to spend their riches however they like. Only the criminals will not be free to be criminal.

But Double D overlooked one important consideration. What happens when two or three persons are free to want something that only one of them can have? People soon found they weren’t free to get all the things they were free to want. There were winners and losers. The winners gloated to be free. The losers complained their freedom was violated. Soon it began to look like the most common freedom of all was freedom to be unhappy and disappointed. People longed for the good old days when not everything was free.

Disappointed, for one last time King ABC had another son. He named him E, just a single E. “That’s enough sons for me,” he said. “He’s the last. If he can’t remedy his brothers’ mistakes, then no one can.”

When E finally came of age his key to peace was fourfold. He advocated and promoted Reconciliation, Openness, Tolerance and Responsibility. Prince E was wise and pragmatic. “We do need law and order, but it needs to be flexible. Justice is important, too, but must be balanced with mercy and forgiveness. Equal rights are necessary, but each person’s uniqueness and personal qualities must be recognized and allowed to develop and enfold. Freedom there must be, but it must include freedom from its abuses.”

Not everyone was happy with the new order of things, but enough people were to make it work. And so once again for a while, the peace in the land was worth fighting for. But since no one wanted to take it away, there was nothing to go to war about.

There are lessons hidden here.

Laws should not tell us what to do,
but how to live and protect our freedom.

Justice without freedom is slavery.
Freedom without justice is chaos.
Justice without mercy is cruelty.
Mercy without justice is impotence.

There will never be a perfect world,
because no one is perfect.

There will always be rivalries and competition, winners and losers.
All we can do is to try our best
to balance the world in which we live
so everyone gets a fair share of what he or she needs
and a chance to realize what he or she wants.

Attached media :
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週二, 15 一月 2008

Mercyful Justice and Judicious Mercy

There has always been tension between the demands of justice and calls for forgiveness and between the straight and narrow bounds of justice and the leeways of charity. Just trying to draw the fine line between justice and injustice is problem enough. Justice is measured by conformity to some norm of what is right and proper or tied to provisions specified in a rule of law, but there has never been universal agreement about those norms nor any uniform set of law.
Besides defining what is just, there is the matter of enforcing it and punishing infractions of it. For the whole system to be just, there must be some just restraint, so that no more is demanded than what is strictly just, the enforcement respects all the rights of the individuals involved and the retribution is in proportion to the circumstances of the violation. If into this pot is added the dizzying often contradictory coercions of religious beliefs, interpretations and practices, the vast inconsistencies and contradictions of contemporary legal systems, the pride, enmity, vengeance, greed, criminal intents of many of those responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of justice, then it is a wonder that any justice manages to prevail at all.
There are two images of justice that come to my mind. The first is that of a blindfolded lady, who presumably is not influenced or coerced by bribery or friendship, but just makes her judgment based only on the facts. A noble idea, but how can she see the facts or recognize the deceptions or the true claims of the claimants if her eyes are closed? She has to weigh what she hears and investigate what she is shown before any impartial determination can be made.
The second image is also of a lady, this time balancing the two sides of a scale. Justice is presumably reached when the two sides are exactly balanced. But this supposes that in the pan on one side is nothing more than the bare unbiased demands of justice and on the other side nothing more than the honest unbiased actual realities of the case. A noble idea, but this seems to leave no room or place for forgiveness or mercy or charity or lenience. It is an accurate description of how the discernment of what is just should be reached, but in real life, that is often only the first step in the execution of justice. And in real life, the issues are not always so clear: the evidence may be only circumstantial, vital facts may be missing, or there are contradictory witnesses, so the very balancing act is arbitrary and not absolute.
Following the judgment comes the determination of retribution and/or punishment. This is where the elements of charity, forgiveness, mercy, severity or leniency or even full pardon come in. In a certain sense, if the judgment is truly just than any tampering or mitigation of its demands is in some way unjust. But what if the most important thing is not a harsh slap on the wrist for wrongdoing, but what is best for the guilty person, offering hope of improvement and more positive ways of making up for what has happened? It is often expedient for the good of individuals or the public welfare for the judge to look beyond the bare letter of the law. This is not easy, neither is it always successful. There are many instances in which leniency or kindness backfired and the transgressor went on to further transgressions, but this is far outweighed in the many cases of those whose lives were transformed by the charity and goodwill of those they injured.
This being the case, judges and the victims should always be more like God Himself, who is as ready to exact or demand justice as He is to grant mercy and forgiveness, most of the time combining both.

Attached media :
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週五, 04 一月 2008

網路與民主

網際網路改變了民主制度的遊戲規則,成為「齊頭式言論」的發言地。

魏明德 撰文

網際網路的出現徹底改變了好幾百萬家庭、公民及公司的工作與溝通模式。網路開拓了知識領域近路!輕易上網,主題豐繁!搜尋能力快速倍增!如果你想要旅行,只要登入網站,不論航班或是訂位、訂房,資訊一應俱全。想要找誰的資料,只要輕敲鍵盤,你所感興趣的內容都會逐一列出,一目了然…
全世界使用網際網路的人口已經超過十億,網際網路可說是一部了不起的龐大的經濟黑箱。美國有五千八百萬人每天至少寄發一封電子郵件。每三個美國人中就有兩個人使用網路管理銀行帳戶。網路上現有的部落格(Blog)為三千一百萬個,而每天仍有八萬個部落格持續增加中。網際網路如此功能超強的工具同時也為企業界增加了不少產能。來自各方的訊息倍增,多到令人目不暇給!我們迷失在收信、轉信、發信的訊息之中…這個工具也帶來了一些弊病:在網路上流通的訊息與內容可能令人無法茍同,對兒童帶來不良的影響。不僅如此,社會與國際上所謂「網民」和「非網民」之間的差異與不平等,也日益受人注目。
網際網路在短時間內改變了人與人之間的關係,也改變了人與權力、文化、社群之間的互動。不管基於興趣所在或是熱情投入,以家族關係或是宗教關係虛擬結合,網際網路讓我們建立了某種「次文化」。網路讓我們擺脫了時空的限制,使每個人都能在自己所屬的領域外建立新文化。因此,它幫助我們過「協會式」的團體生活。而有心人士更可以在網路存放傳統文化的寶貴資料庫,並為傳統文化發聲。
然而,在現代社會裡,網際網路強調的是個人化。網路將作者的言論、感想、訊息都放在同一個平台上,並不過問發言人的出身或知識背景。網路上變成「齊頭式言論」的發言地:如果言論變成齊頭式的平等,我們就無法釐清什麼是攸關社稷的重要言論,什麼又只是個人意見而已。
網路使用者收到的訊息又快又多,比起專業記者可說是不相上下,如此一來使得傳統報業的業績與新聞可信度上面臨空前的危機。傳統專業至上的權威發生了轉變,如今閱聽人所要求的是真正的實力。從這個角度來看,若在某種程度上將這樣的現象視為民主精神的深化,同時也說明了網際網路接納極端個人化的觀點。網路摧毀既有的社會規則,因為每個人都可以自創規則。雖然每個人的看法都可以登錄在網路上,但意見疊床架屋,眾人的意見並無法凝聚共識。看來這一切必須等到合乎道德與專業的規範內化到人心,調節每位使用者的使用方式,網際網路才能臻於成熟。到目前為止,雖然網路為我們建立了新的聯繫方式,卻也破壞了不少過去維繫社會團結的人我關係與價值觀。它改變了民主制度的遊戲規則,究竟是福是禍,誰也無法斷言…

附加的多媒體:
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週四, 15 十一月 2007

Asia needs more maturity

Asia’s big growing economies need to gain maturity to lead Asia’s development
Businessmen and politicians act at different levels
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When you are a businessman, you go where the opportunities are, wherever the country is situated in the world. Recently, more and more Taiwanese are investing in the newly opened markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Capitalism teaches you, in a globalize world, to be ready to cooperate with countries, even if you do not agree with their national system. In this sense, economic exchanges go beyond political barriers, but do not promote political integration. Governments use economic cooperation to maintain their position in the foreign affairs of that country. Through economic exchange, Taiwan tries to ensure other countries will not attack the country, even though they do not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It is a political game.

Culture travels without borders
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TheTaiwanese adopt with a special ease other habits and life styles of other cultures, especially the ones from developed countries like Japan or the United States. I am ethnically Chinese, but I am also a local Taiwanese whose culture has changed and evolved through the stages of national development since the 1970’s. I use a very cultural approach to define my identity, and I can hardly say I am an Asian, because I would need to understand more the Hindus before I can assimilate with them. I think it is because we do not communicate enough with them that we think we are different. To improve common understanding, Asians should read and travel more.

The strong economies in Asia are not mature enough to form a union
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Europe could successfully build the European Union because there were stable and strong developed countries which could lead its construction, such as France and Germany. They were even able later to support developing economies of other European countries. In Asia, the economic development of the two major powers in Asia, India and China, is a new phenomenon and they need more time to grow mature and learn to work together. It is a necessary pre-condition to think about establishing a union. Japan is geographically too small to lead, and Southeast Asian governments are too unstable. The current crisis in Myanmar illustrates this problem. In this situation, I think we cannot realistically think of building any union in the next twenty years.

Taiwan could be the ‘Asian Brussels’ to hold the headquarters of the Asia Union institutions
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Because Taiwan fails to establish diplomatic relationships with other Asian countries, the country needs to be given a strategic role to convince the people to invest money and efforts in constructing an Asian Union. Taiwan is a stable and developed country, at the border of South and North East Asia. I believe Singapore would pretend to play this role as well. However, I believe if Taiwan is given this opportunity, it could also help to ease the tensions between the island and China. Everyone wishes one’s home country can develop and gain more power on the regional scene. I think Asia can face the Western powers only through cooperation which could be achieved in the form of a union, involving for example the two leading economies of China and India..

Wish for Asia in twenty years:
There are many latent conflicts in Asia. Perhaps if they could all be resolved as soon as possible in twenty years, there will be no more political tensions and Asia will be able to establish the basis for the construction of a peaceful union.

Reporter:

Attached media :
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週一, 05 十一月 2007

The only bad problems are those we don't solve

We live in a world beset with problems. There are many world crises that experts say are threatening the health and the livelihood of all earth’s inhabitants. There is the energy crisis, the global warming crisis, the social and political and economic crises signified by the growing gap between the rich and the poor, between the First World and the Third World, and finally the environmental pollution crisis together with the depletion and wasting of natural resources.

At the very same time, there many solutions proposed by experts that can alleviate or even eliminate these threats. Why then do they still remain?

Perhaps the most alarming and most amazing thing about these crises is not the dangers they impose, but the fact that so many people refuse to take them seriously.

Those who are most concerned have so far failed to agree upon any unified, common solutions that are acceptable to all.

Those with the political power to impose the measures necessary are more afraid of the costs or the complaints of the inconvenienced rather than on the hardships that will ultimately ensue if measures are not taken.

Why is it that in a world which is full of so many proposed solutions, so many problems still exist and so many solutions remain untried?

Let me illustrate the answer by telling an allegorical story.


THE CLIQUES THAT DIDN’T CLICK IN POORMANIA

Once upon a time in the mythical land of Poormania there was a huge gap between the very rich who wielded all the power and the very poor who greatly outnumbered the very rich but lacked political power. Some of the very Rich People had no time to enjoy their riches because they were too busy making more money. Some of the very Rich People were so busy enjoying the luxuries their wealth provided, they thought of nothing else. Some of the very Rich People felt uneasy to have so much while others had so little, but they did nothing about it or were at a loss what to do.

Some of the very Poor People were content to just enjoy as best they could the little they had, because there were no jobs and nothing else to do. Some of the Poor People did not complain, but just kept looking for employment and odd jobs to feed their families, Some of the Poor People were quite unhappy with their lot and were looking for ways to make things change.

At the same time there were lots of people in Poormania who were neither very rich nor very poor. Some of the Middle People just went about their lives quite oblivious of the problems of others. Some of the Middle People knew about the discrepancies between the Rich People and the Poor People, but thought it was none of their business or concern. Some of the Middle People profited by providing services for the enjoyment and amusement of the Rich People or by providing social services for the Poor People. Some of the Middle People felt uneasy and compelled to do something, but weren’t sure what.

There were basically eight kinds of Rich People.

Rich People One paid no attention to the Poor People and therefore were completely unconcerned.

Rich People Two looked down on the Poor People and condemned them as lazy and worthless scum, who had no one to blame but themselves for their sorry plight, so they ignored them.

Rich People Three felt sorry for the Poor People and wrote checks with tiny donations and thought they had done enough.

Rich People Four to show their concern for the Poor People complained loudly that the government wasn’t doing enough to help them, but they did nothing themselves.

Rich People Five saw an opportunity to make more money for themselves and hired more Poor People to work for them at the lowest possible salaries.

Rich People Six couldn’t understand why the Poor People were so dissatisfied and were very angry about the Poor People’s complaints and demonstrations and strikes and claimed that their ungrateful behavior meant that they didn’t deserve to be listened to.

Rich People Seven realized that it was hard for anyone with a family to survive on only the minimum wage, so they offered the Poor People opportunities for education and training so they could get better paying jobs.

Rich People Eight realized there is something wrong with a society in which those slaving at the bottom barely have enough to keep them alive while those at the top have so much more than they ever need. They began to campaign for social and economic reform and in particular that the Rich People should be satisfied with less and the Poor People earn more. They were joined by all the Rich People who believed that those who have should share with those who have not and by the Rich People who felt it just didn’t seem right to take so much for themselves while they gave so little to others.

At once Rich Peoples One to Seven were at the throats of Rich People Eight and their supporters. To give something to Poor People was a yes-yes that had to be tolerated, but to take anything away from Rich People was a no-no that could not be accepted. They were joined by all the Middle People, who profited from the luxurious items and services that the Rich People enjoyed.

There were also eight kinds of Poor People.

Poor People One were concerned only about the happiness of their families.

Poor People Two were content enough not to envy the Rich People, but felt pity for them having to work so hard to keep their riches.

Poor People Three couldn’t understand why the Rich People wouldn’t give them jobs and just kept trying to find work.

Poor People Four thought there was nothing wrong with taking whatever they could behind the backs of Rich People, so long as they didn’t get caught.

Poor People Five joined an organization publicly demon-strating and advocating social reform.

Poor People Six felt it was better to obey the law and suffer within the system, rather than to risk losing life and home through violence and revolt.

Poor People Seven believed the only way to achieve reform was through passive resistance.

Poor People Eight threw all caution to the wind and went to war against all the Rich People.

And what were the results of all these differing attitudes and opinions? Well, the Rich People were so divided among themselves whether or not to do anything or what to do, they ended up unable to find any good solution to the problem. The Poor People likewise never united behind any common action, so there were as many setbacks as there were gains.

Fortunately, the Middle People in Poormania, who were not so rich and not so poor, eventually did reach a consensus and had enough numbers and power to make the necessary reforms, so that for a while social justice and economic stability and public approval prevailed.

But then once again as so often happens, a few clever ambitious entrepreneurs rose up through the cracks to become the new Rich People and many less capable or exploited persons fell down through the cracks to become the new Poor People and Poormania ended up right back where it had been before.


There are lessons hidden here.

Too many of us turn our backs on problems that don’t seem to directly affect us and just let others worry about them. Few problems are ever solved by looking the other way. Why is it so hard to realize that the reason we so often end up with both cheeks dirty is because we neglected to wipe off the dirty cheek on time?

Many hands are better than one only if they work together.

Sometimes it is easier to just turn the other cheek, but often it would have been better to tweak the offender’s cheek.

It is always easier to agree on solutions that involve others. The hardest problems to face are those in which you yourself are a part of the problem. The hardest solutions to undertake are those that involve you yourself as part of the solution.

Consensuses based on convenient compromise tend to fall apart the moment they become inconvenient for anybody.

So, with so many willing hands, why is it so hard to agree on what is wrong or on how to make it right? When are we all going to sit down, weigh the options and finally begin to do something concrete and constructive?

Attached media :
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週四, 27 九月 2007

我們需要什麼樣的記者

在這Web 2.0的時代,記者如何勝任資訊守門人及篩選者的角色?
在主導閱聽人對新聞事件的觀感與評價的地位上,又需有何責任意識?

大家都受夠了台灣的記者了吧,誰說越多選擇的生活,品質越高呢?在台灣這個市場,共有七個二十四小時新聞台(美國三個;英國三個;日本為零)、超過一百台有線電視頻道、約兩千五百家報紙。另外,台灣也是全世界SNG車(衛星轉播車)密度最高的國家,兩千三萬人擁有八十二輛(日本一億二千萬億人/七十一輛、香港七百萬人/一輛、韓國四千八百萬人/四十輛、印度十億人/三百輛)(註1)。激烈競爭與爭奪市場的結果讓我們發現台灣記者素質每況愈下。
過去談新聞記者,總會聯想到「鐵腳、馬眼、神仙肚」的本事。「鐵腳」就是能跑;「馬眼」就是反應快,要「眼觀六路,耳聽八方」;「神仙肚」就是肚子能餓,兩三頓不吃飯,照樣生龍活虎地跑新聞。在資訊爆炸的Web 2.0世界裡,記者要爭取立足之地,除了上述基本要求外,以編造連續劇的功力來包裝新聞似乎已不可少。記者在鑽研如何以更譁眾取寵的激情手法包裝新聞之餘,到底還應該如何培養自己的專業表現。事實上,現在訊息的流傳方式異常複雜,網路訊息雖讓我們輕易獲得世界各地的消息,但在網路中充斥業餘人士的意見,甚至網路謠言、網路傳說,以訛傳訛,真假難辨,在在都顯示我們極需專業記者的補足。
那麼,我們到底需要什麼樣的記者呢?有些特質是亙久不變的:謙遜、正直、道德感,都是記者需要具備的核心價值。在新聞業中,專業尤指分析消息來源的能力,正確引述的能力,處理不同訊息並把不同訊息串連起來的能力,以及面對事情時能偵察出矛盾點的能力。
專業亦指要有所專精:在科學範疇,記者應以批判角度協助讀者評估某項科學發現的本質;在經濟學與商業,則需要詞鋒銳利的記者戳破企業家與央行某些過度樂觀的言論;戰地報導當然充滿危險,但還有誰比一個大無畏的記者更想去揭發戰爭罪行,更期望協調行動能帶來和平?在多語的世界中,記者也要能夠結合不同領域的專才,透過語言修飾,將其跨領域的看法表達出來。在此同時,知識與分析能力仍舊是我們共同的社會資產。就這點來看,新聞對民主來說是項不可或缺的元素。
由過去「無冕皇帝」的稱號,使人約約感受到記者這個行業的尊嚴和權威,或許這個行業已不復過去的光芒萬丈,但在一個真正的民主社會中,記者仍扮演著不可或缺的角色,而且它正面臨空前的挑戰。作為資訊的守門人、篩選者,更擁有直接影響社會大眾如何評價資訊內容的地位,記者有責任協助公眾參與監督政府,促進社會公益。所以,記者不能也不應繼續誤用、濫用「第四權」(註2),他/她們雖則享有新聞媒體的權利,更要履行相對應的社會義務。

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註1 維基百科http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/台灣媒體
註2 媒體訐譙區http://tnews.cc/special.asp

附加的多媒體:
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週五, 24 八月 2007

貿易自由與文化保溫箱

國際共識:文化多樣性公約

全球化浪潮中,似乎以WTO為代表的貿易經濟面向最為引人關注,但也對文化帶來了極大挑戰。我們今天擁有更多了解世界其他文化的機會,卻也可能因為外國文化的強力入侵,使得本國傳統文化逐漸消失沒落。
針對這項共識,聯合國教科文組織於二○○五年十月二十日通過了《保護和促進文化表達多樣性公約》(簡稱《文化多樣性公約》),這項公約在一年多的時間內便跨越三十個國家批准的門檻,於二○○七年三月十八日正式生效,主要原則包括:文化表現多樣性必須予以保護並推動;文化商品及服務具獨特性,有別於一般商品及服務;會員國政府有權制定其文化政策並加以實施;國際合作及保護文化多樣性。
《文化多樣性公約》和一九七二年的《世界遺產公約》、二○○三年的《保護非物質文化遺產公約》,為國際社會共同構成了保護世界文化多樣性、保護物質和非物質文化遺產提供了一個有力的行動框架。

文化保衛戰 節節敗退

文化多樣性的根本意義雖然是要讓所有人都能接觸到多元文化,但在此之前,本國人民也需要了解自己的各種文化,並使其跨越國界的藩籬。在全球化的今天,維護本國文化的政策顯然正受到自由化貿易協定的威脅,不得不低頭屈服,下面舉出幾個這方面的例子。
韓國政府為因應國內電影業受到好萊塢的衝擊,早在一九六七年便制定銀幕配給制度,到一九九三年,更規定韓國電影必須佔據電影院上映影片的40%以上。十年間,韓片在國內市場的佔有率從16%提高到50%。但從一九九八年開始,韓國與美國進行自由貿易協定談判,美方堅持韓方必須先削減螢幕配額才展開談判,幾經折衷,韓方終於讓步。到了二○○六年,韓國政府宣布將國產影片上映日的天數減少一半。
相當重視本土文化的加拿大於一九八八年與美國訂定自由貿易協定時,特將文化產業排除在外。但一九九六年美加在WTO中的期刊爭端卻是文化的一大挫敗,此事起因於美國雜誌出版商將加拿大期刊內容摻雜到美國期刊內,再大量輸入加拿大,此舉大大影響加國本地期刊之銷路,因此加國政府對這些期刊課徵高額的廣告稅。此案歷經WTO小組與上訴機構之審理,認定美國與加拿大期刊內容屬「同類商品」,因此加拿大須遵照貿易協定中所規定的「非歧視原則」,不得對國外期刊課征高額廣告稅。對加拿大來說,這是文化保衛戰的徹底慘敗!
相對於韓國和加拿大,台灣似乎不懂得珍惜自身的寶貴資產。例如一九九三年德國某樂團曾擷取台灣阿美族郭英男先生一首歌曲中的原音,創造了數百萬張驚人的唱片銷售量,但卻沒有任何人知道這美麗的旋律竟是來自台灣阿美族。直到一九九六年,亞特蘭大奧運將它使用為主題曲之後,才引爆世界性原住民音樂著作及權益的爭議話題。台灣身為一個具有文化多樣性特色的小島,若對自身的文化寶藏不加以保護,恐將很快淪為全球化底下的犧牲者。

文化保溫箱有違開放精神?

中西文化的交流在十五、十六世紀時與宗教(特別是耶穌會的傳教士)有著密不可分的關係。從十七世紀直到今日,貿易漸漸取代了宗教,生意人代替了傳教士成為文化交流的傳遞者,貿易也成為文化交流的最大推力。
但隨著全球化的來臨,文化被視為貿易市場上的商品之一,從此,貿易與文化之間的關係便越來越緊張。我們可以看到在《文化多樣性公約》中,特別提出了文化產品不同於其他商品的原則,確認「文化多樣性是人類的一項基本特徵」,「是人類的共同遺產」等概念,強調各國有權利「採取合適的措施」來保護自己的文化遺產。
有些學者對此有不同的解讀,他們認為某些保護措施是在控制文化,他們也主張對於今日的文化應遵循自願互動的原則。持這種想法的學者可能大部分來自擁有強大文化優勢的國家,他們或許沒有想到,在貿易自由化、什麼都講求平等開放的今天,唯有「文化」這項產品無法量化。就算同樣地出售文化商品或服務,也不會在雙方都同步開放彼此市場的前提下,便能自然達到平等的發展;這項議題隨著網際網路時代的來臨,將勢必遭受更大的衝擊。
我們或許要先清楚一點,文化巨人可以健康地住在家中,但脆弱的文化就好比需要靠保溫箱維持生命的早產兒,需要給予特別的照料才能存活,而適度的文化保護政策就是必要的呵護。「打開家門」與「開啟保溫箱」不能畫上等號,充分理解這點後,才可讓所有文化巨人、小孩、嬰兒都樂居在這世上,彼此尊重並相互扶持。

附加的多媒體:
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週三, 25 七月 2007

機車與鐵窗

大家在遊走、移動、遷徙,但尋尋覓覓的是一個可以讓自己固定下來的家。租房子、買房子、換房子就變成了落實夢想的過程。大家找房子的迷思,就是不喜歡公共設施的比例太高。大家希望內部空間要買到極大,甚至把陽台外推,讓寸土寸金的投資達到最高的經濟效益。陽台外推後,再加裝鐵窗,就成了台灣特有的鐵窗文化。裝設鐵窗說明了兩件事:第一、我怕小偷。第二、鐵窗內就是主人的空間。
室內的空間往往有兩個極端。屋主若是想住一輩子的,不免裝潢得美侖美奐;屋子若是租賃或是頻換屋主的,屋況多半很差。因為不管使用人、房東或是房客,都覺得這個空間並不完全屬於自己,細心呵護這個空間就變成一件很難的事,而鐵窗有沒有架設逃生口更是乏人問津。
當我們看台灣屋外的建築式樣時,每棟大樓自成風格,有法式、維多利亞式、日式…即使新建的大廈,加設鐵窗的情況逐漸減少,但屋宇和屋宇之間,好像很少會打招呼。大樓與大樓之間外貌的不和諧,就像馬路上開車人士與機車騎士爭先恐後一般。開車人士多麼希望機車騎士能夠消失,機車騎士多麼希望開車人士能夠退隱。開車人士有車子為自己護航,但機車騎士的安全帽能夠提供多少的安全保障呢?
架設鐵窗和騎機車都面臨一個相同的問題:意外的高風險。大家總是想,火災應該不會落在我家;大家也總是想,車禍應該不會落在我身上。當火舌要吞噬人命時,公設的空間就成了逃命的空間;當公共樓梯有了煙囪效應,自家的窗戶就成了唯一的逃生出口。我們常常聽到,火災發生時,有人被關在鐵窗裡活活燒死,無疑是被自己的手掐死。過度的裝潢無疑火上加油,習以為常的密閉鐵窗讓我們成了著火的籠中鳥。我們可能要重新檢視我們與空間相處的心態,擁有空間並不是霸占空間,以同樣的眼光欣賞、珍愛公共空間與私人空間,這樣我們就會讓私人空間和公共空間保持暢通。
在紅綠燈前,機車與汽車搶占空間的方式有如奧運競賽。這也會讓我想起在法國搭地鐵的時候,華人一進入車廂,就很迫切找位子坐的情景:我們好像患了「沒有位子」的恐慌症。《論語》為我們規範了「君臣、父子、夫婦、兄弟、朋友」五倫的倫理體系,可能因為這樣我們會希望在一個既定的環境中找到一席之地。但是馬路上轎車、公車、貨車都行駛得很快,機車穿梭四輪傳動交通工具的「縫隙」顯得險象環生。我曾目睹一位女機車騎士為躲避一輛轎車,與另一輛機車擦撞,她在我眼前翻了好幾個滾,在這兩秒間連想上前抱住她都是不可能的事。即使騎機車每天可以節省半小時的通車時間,但是出事帶來的後遺症卻是下半輩子永遠的遺憾。
不要架設密閉鐵窗吧!不留出口的鐵窗等於為自己打造死亡空間。不要騎機車吧!寧可每天多花點時間通勤,不要成為馬路上危險空間的受害者。

附加的多媒體:
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週二, 24 四月 2007

Some Reflections on Life and Living

I am not afraid to die, though I am apprehensive of the possible pain and sickness that may be involved. I look forward to be reunited with my departed family and friends and to meet all my ancestors and discuss world events with those who actually took part in them. But that doesn’t mean I am eager to die. There have always been saintly spiritual men who pine for release from this life to reach God as soon as possible. That certainly is not me. This is my only chance to enjoy life on earth. I want it to last as long as possible. Heaven will last forever, putting it off for a while will not diminish it in any way.
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