Erenlai - New Ethical Challenges 全球化之下的倫理重建
New Ethical Challenges 全球化之下的倫理重建

New Ethical Challenges 全球化之下的倫理重建

Here are testimonies and analyses that explore business ethics, life technology ethics, and environmental ethics - all fields that determine the way we conceive our nature, monitor our social conducts and foresee our future.

全球化的浪潮也捲起一波波對倫理重建的討論。從跨國企業到生命科學,從教育體系到宗教與社會倫理,我們窺見不同區域中的反省力量可能帶來的轉變與啟示!

 

週三, 22 十月 2008

China’s Environmental Crisis and Global Warming

(extract from the speech given by B.V. during the colloquium on Cultural resources against Global Warming. oct 4, 2008, Taipei)

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IV- The international position

- Efforts by China to become a player in global governance, including in the environmental field, should not be underestimated. The country has signed more than fifty international conventions and treaties related to environmental protection and natural resources. The review of implementation by China of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, has shown gradual compliance by China to the Protocol and its willingness to fulfill its contractual obligations (it had completed in 1999 the targets set for 2002), but also conflicts of interest adversely affecting its ability to act. China is also aware of the strategic role played by NGOs in environmental diplomacy.
- However, China implicitly refuses to engage positively in the management of environmental resources, contributing to the unbridled exploitation of tropical forests of Southeast Asia or hydro-electric resources in the Amazon Basin.
- China’s position in international forums is constant: national responsibilities in this area are "common but differentiated"; climate change and sustainable development must be thought as a whole; technology transfer play a key role in meet the climate challenge; the "Clean Development Mechanism" and other similar programs should be continued and encouraged.

V – International Margin of Action

China may moderate its demands but will hardly abandon its basic positions. However, a change in the level of quotas could be acceptable to China, with a passage to a non-binding commitment level higher and stronger. China would probably limit international agreements with a regime that would facilitate practical cooperation projects and would thus releasing funds for promoting research and development in the field of new energies and to introduce renewable energy. At present, external pressures as influential as they are, are still weaker than internal resistance.
However, Hu Angang, an renowned economics professor at Tsinghua University, advisor to the government on environmental and social issues, has publicly called for China to accept to be bound by an international pact to reduce emissions. He acknowledged that his point of view remains in the minority but emphasizes the seriousness of the problems encountered by China. It envisages a sharp increase in Chinese emissions until 2020, but feels that implementation of drastic reductions in the following decade is quite feasible, so that Chinese emissions may go down to their 1990 level by 2030, and be reduced again by half over the next twenty years. China, he insists, will be the first victim of climate change, and has a strong economic and diplomatic interest to transform itself into a "green power.”
China therefore has the potential to play a positive international role, if it dares to tackle the speculative and risky nature of its present model of development. It will thus contribute to a better management of "global public goods". Making the turn towards sustainable development is without doubt the best way to assert its global contribution. Yet the Chinese response seems hesitant, often contradictory. Because the debate on its own model of governance remains severely limited, China finds it difficult to play a more active role in reforming global governance.
For now, we can just bet that China will carry out its ecological reform at its own pace but that it still refuses to be bound by a priori international agreements. The Chinese reticence should not block the commitments of other partners: Global governance, when it comes to climate change, must be one of "variable geometry" rather than based on the principle of "everything or nothing." In other words, the WTO model, (based on the search for consensus without offering viable alternative if unanimity is not achieved), model strongly challenged in recent months with the failure of the Doha Round, is not directly exportable in the field of environmental diplomacy.
It remains possible that, faced with bold initiatives of other nations, starting with the ones that the European Union must take in any case, China decided to take on the role it says to be aspiring to. In other words, the best way to engage China in world climate governance is perhaps to start without waiting that China finally decides to join global initiatives...

週二, 07 十月 2008

公民社會精神的升起

【一場國際研討會的落幕,一種公民社會精神的升起】
2008年10月4日的這場「台灣文化VS.全球暖化」國際研討會,在外交部、文建會、法國在台協會、台北縣政府、文向教育基金會及其他夥伴單位的支持下圓滿落幕。

研討會主講人、來自法國的阿拉伯世界學院院長Dominique Baudis一開始便告訴所有與會來賓:「我們的消費模式、生產模式與價值體系息息相關,最終決定我們的發展模式是否能挽救人類活動對氣候的影響。」他同時告訴我們阿拉伯文化對環境方面的見解:「伊斯蘭教張顯在刻苦、乾旱及不容許浪費土地上,它載有許多禁止浪費、對待動物與水管理的規定。」最後並提出以參考歐洲「地中海聯盟」的「台灣海峽兩岸生態計劃」建言,為整場會議勾勒出明確且明智的方向。

台北縣副縣長李鴻源描述了台北縣的具體永續建設作法,他也清楚地提到,具有遠見的建設也需要具有遠見的在地居民一起配合,他們必須體認到,短暫痛苦及不便若換來的是永續美好的環境,這一切都將值得。

另外在法國水道事務處處長BORDRY先生的演說中,我們看到法國內河旅遊的規劃與設計,在古老缺乏生氣的水道建設中,運用結合當地的生態與文化,讓水道建築在不破壞當地環境下也同時充滿了文化氣息及創意色彩。

包括平路等幾位文化工作及創意者,都不約而同地提到了台灣文化多元的可貴,即使在全球化下瞬息萬變的速食文化中,我們仍潛意識地懷念過去台灣傳統社會的純樸與價值觀;這幾位文化工作者藉由他們擅長的工作方式來傳遞台灣文化的多元及特色,重尋珍貴且樸實的華人傳統中心思想。

孫大川教授幽默風趣的演說使全場笑聲不斷,他直言道出原住民可以帶給台灣的禮物,是歡樂、是幽默、是樂觀、是尊重天地…聽完這場壓軸的場次,讓帶有嚴肅色彩的研討會頓時輕鬆,讓一整天的演講精華得以風趣創意的方式融會貫通…

這一場以台灣文化為主軸來對抗全球暖化國際研討會在主辦單位的心中已然成功,就在九位接過第二屆「生命永續獎」獎勵的得主露出充滿信心的笑容、道出心中深刻感受並接受在場三百位與會來賓熱烈鼓掌的同時,我們已經知道,公民社會精神已經在台灣受到肯定,由下而上的創意文化及思維就要傳遞到更多人的心中,這信念,就如同當天在會場中被複述最多的一句話─”To Believe what you believe!”

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週四, 02 十月 2008

可以改善世界的消費

用簡單的消費以及商業,實踐綠色消費以及環境永續

撰文│張俊賢

在國內一片提倡環境新生活中,樂活、慢活、有機生活等名詞所代表的新消費及生活方式正方興未艾,越來越多人注重回歸自然,享受簡樸生活的喜悅。連帶的,大家的消費習慣也跟隨著生活逐漸改變,消費有機、注重環保,對自己身體以及對環境友善。對於新訊息敏感一點的朋友或許發現,「公平貿易」這個不算新但是卻有點而陌生的名詞,在消費市場的媒體及雜誌的篇章報導中被一再的提到甚至做了專欄的介紹。究竟,什麼是「公平貿易」,貿易還有區分公平或是不公平?那麼,又是公平了誰?又不公平了什麼?


什麼是公平貿易?

在全球化浪潮及傳統國際貿易體系中,第三世界國家的農民及其賴以維生的唯一資產-土地,往往是經貿體制下被邊緣化的弱勢生產者,農村裏大量的勞力被剝削、土地也為了作最大生產而砍伐原生林轉作栽植經濟作物,或是為了快速及良好收成,大量使用化學肥料及農藥。

公平貿易的精神,是希望透過買與賣的透明商業機制,幫助及支援這些第三世界的相對經濟弱勢者,合理給付工資或是簽定長期契約關係,藉以保障農村裏工作機會及農民收益,以及使用天然耕作方式及生產原料,避免環境污染,讓他們能在合理利潤收益下自食其力,改善家庭以及社區生活窘境,並且提供下一代學習的教育機會。


公平貿易認證機制

公平貿易認證過程從生產產品原材料和成份的環節開始,所有認證產品來自已取得認證的生產者組織。公平貿易標籤旨在令消費者更加醒覺產品原料的貿易,對許多賴此維生的農民及工人來說,是非常重要的。認證以國際認可的標準作為基礎,並有獨立的審核和監察機制,令近年公平貿易產品的市場日趨成熟及普及。(註1)


生產者的消失

過去,我們跟著外婆或是媽媽上傳統市場,市場裏,攤販攤商所販賣的蔬菜魚肉雜貨,很多都是自己製作或是耕種、養殖的,這是一種熟悉而且簡單自然的買賣互動關係,在購買與販賣的過程中,還有著人與人之間情感的交流以及對於節氣變化、生產過程以及每一季收成好壞的關心。

當社會進步、當所有分工變細、當交通便利,當運輸更為方便,生活基本欲望得到了滿足之後,我們的心也開始要求更多更多。大家想吃到節令以外的水果,不再滿足於當地所生產的農產品,還想要其他產地或是世界各地的新鮮玩意兒。於是,因應需求而生的產銷中間商開始提供以及收集世界各地資訊,提供更誘人及精緻化的產品服務,從吃的到穿的用的所有都是世界交流,都是世界貿易的交易體系。

跳脫了產品基本面訴求的品牌開始出現,商品變的更複雜更多樣性,生產者與消費者之間的關係變的越來越模糊,逐漸取而代之的是消費者與品牌之間的新關係,在新的價值鏈體系當中,生產者的角色已經被隱匿於品牌價值包裝的黑盒子後面。消費者付出的金額購買了品牌所建構的新商品價值意象,而這些付出的金額,大多數去支付了構築商品形象的廣告費用以及品牌公司的利潤,僅有非常少的部份到了生產者的手中。


不公平的咖啡

當我們購買一杯咖啡,大家可否知道,大部份的利潤付給了中盤商與品牌企業,只有不到3%是真正付給第三世界的咖啡小農;在什麼都漲,只有薪水不漲的年代,消費者期望更好更便宜的商品時,盤商與品牌企業為了維持固定或求取更大利潤的同時,利潤壓縮的空間就被變相轉嫁到了生產者身上。當利潤變得越來越小,影響最直接的是第三世界賴以種植咖啡為生的小農家庭以及農村社區的生計維持及成長。但是,這些衝擊到生存的消費卻是手握著一杯香醇咖啡的消費者所看不到的。

在一部2006年由Marc Francis, Nick Francis所拍攝探討咖啡公平貿易的電影「Black Gold」中,導演透過畫面,記錄傳達了衣索比亞(Ethiopia)咖啡生產及銷售的現況,拍攝紀錄地區旁邊的村莊,大多是品牌咖啡的契作收購區,這兒生產的咖啡豆,被以西方咖啡集中交易市場所訂定的價格收購,沒有市場銷售管道以及運輸工具的農民是無法自行決定銷售的價格。

當地的咖啡收購代理商,為了突破這國際貿易體系的中不公平對待,以及替合作社種植咖啡的農民爭取應得的合理利潤,走出西方咖啡集中交易市場體制之外,帶著當地生產的優良咖啡豆,直接接觸咖啡供應商以及在農產品展覽中尋找買主,免除了中間商及品牌的剝削,讓利潤最大化回歸給當地合作社,改善農民的基本生活以及改善社區環境,並且提供了農村脫離貧窮所最需要的教育機會。(註2)


建構對等夥伴關係

我們每天的生活,從起床睜開眼到累癱睡倒之前,三餐飲食的食物來源,搭乘交通工具所的石化燃料、生活所需的水電,以及人手一杯的茶飲及咖啡,大大小小的商業交易的行為都在我們身邊發生。如果細心拆解這些構成舒適生活的元素,我們會驚訝的發現,大半的元素來自全世界的供給交流,當我們享受著「貿易」帶來的好處時,我們可曾想過,這些商品背後隱含著什麼樣的故事?當我們消費購買商品時,又有多少金額是生產者實際拿到的呢?這樣的消費是不是不公平的對待了生產者?或是不公平的對待了土地及環境?

「公平貿易」,是一種追求對等夥伴關係的貿易型態,買方透過支付合理的價格以及預付款項,協助產品設計及開發,支援緩慢自然的生產方式,支援少用機具的手作生產模式,以及不破壞環境、水源、土地、森林的永續經營原則,維持持續而且穩定的合作關係。

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註一:想了解更多有關公平貿易標籤以及認證,請上http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/公平貿易

註二:更多有關於不公平咖啡的影片訊息,請參閱網址 http://www.blackgoldmovie.com

【地球樹Earth Tree】
台北市永康公園旁的「地球樹Earth Tree」,是一家推廣「公平貿易」的小店。在這兒,每件商品除了熟悉的價格標示之外,還吊掛著幾個特殊的標示牌,上頭印著「Fair Trade」;或是一張用手寫的小紙卡,上頭寫的滿滿的是這件商品的生產團體或個人背景,商品原料的生產方式及種植環境,或是這個生產合作社成立的背景及故事。在輕柔悠揚的背景音樂聲中,來這兒消費的顧客透過這一張張小小紙卡的用心,與在地球彼端的生產者建立了一種新的透明消費情感,以及兼顧地球環境永續的公平交易微妙關係。
網址:http://www.earthtree.com.tw/

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週五, 29 八月 2008

Climate change and cultural change

一九九五年间,有一位牙医师与一群热爱大自然的朋友,成立了「荒野保护协会」,现在已是台湾最大的民间环保团体。他们梦想能带著孩子在天籁下起舞,让每一个出生于台湾,却在都市水泥丛林中长大的孩子,都有机会感受到台湾这块土地的美好。

引领这个梦想的舵手李伟文,不仅是位勇于拥抱梦想的浪漫之人,更是位喜爱与朋友携手圆梦的人。他曾将协会的活动描述为赶集,「一声吆喝,朋友们就从四面八方响应,大伙肩挑手提,骑著驴赶著牛,每个人都不可或缺,但也没有那一个人是主角。」十馀年来,李伟文以己身盎然情趣医治大地伤口,同时唤醒人类对自然的爱。


【得奖感言】

以前我们在推动环境保护运动时,采取的是「为后代子孙著想」的道德诉求。想不到这些年,除了世界人口大量成长,加上全球经济与科技的结合,导致自然资源过度耗损。如今地球面临的危机,已不是后代子孙才会遭遇的遥远未来,而是现存的我们及孩子这一代就会遭遇到的事。

我总觉得环保的症结不在环境,而在人心。因此,我真正想做的事,是改变人心。希望民众对环境保护不再仅限于知识上的了解,而是身体力行的参与。因为我们相信唯有真正的行动参与,人才能真正改变,并将环保落实于日常生活。

每天每天,我们都在与时间赛跑,希望有更多人觉醒,也希望有更多人行动。我们相信有志者事竟成,我们要让众人以为不可能的事变成事实。我们也相信,因为有梦,因为有愿望,个人往往可以发挥出想像不到的巨大力量!


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荒野保护协会http://www.sow.org.tw

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週一, 25 八月 2008

A visit to Losheng sanitarium in Taiwan

Today I visited Taiwan’s famous Losheng Sanitarium (樂生療養院), a leper colony built by the Japanese colonial government in Xinzhuang City, Taipei County. As in leper colonies throughout the world, Taiwanese victims of Hansen’s Disease were forcibly imprisoned in Losheng by the government, as they were in Japan by the government there. Although the leper imprisonment order was lifted in Taiwan in the 1950s , they have for the most part remained. With modern medicine the patients are no longer inmates, and no longer contagious, but nothing can de-cripple them or regrow their missing fingers and stumpy limbs. And they have nowhere to go, and no way to survive except by public welfare of some sort.

I had first heard of Losheng perhaps a couple of years ago, due to the wave of protests to the government’s plan to demolish the entire complex to make way for a train depot, as part of Taipei metro’s never-ending expansion plan. Although there are naturally no opponents to MRT expansion itself, there have been severe doubts regarding the sense of building the depot in this particular location, which apparently requires the leveling of mountain to create flat ground which naturally occurs elsewhere and is widely suspected of having been chosen to satisfy local political interests before practical considerations of engineering.

Primary opposition to the plan however, is due to a desire to preserve Losheng. The adage goes something like, you never really appreciate something to it’s gone, and it is born out time and again in the history of urban preservation. New York City’s historical preservation regime was established in the wake of the foolhardy and abhorrent demolition of Penn Station in the 1960s, and throughout the world preservationist activity is often triggered by the threat of imminent loss. The government’s plan to demolish the place made people realize for the first time that it was worth preserving, and recent protests have spurred a surge of interest in the hospital site and its residents that has gone beyond simple preservationism to community organizing attempting to integrate Losheng, which for most of its existence was in principle as isolated as a prison, into the surrounding community. This has led to large numbers of non afiliated visitors spending time with the patients for probably the first time in many years, if not ever.

roy_berman_losheng_3It turns out that from the articles I had read in The Taipei Times, not to mention the briefer pieces I saw in Japanese media I had no idea what it was like. When I read about a hospital/leper sanitarium being destroyed to make way for MRT construction I had for some reason imagined a cluster of shabby old buildings on a city street corner. But of course a leper colony could not be in such a place, and is in fact built on slightly elevated and up-sloping terrain on mountain foothills of a part of Taipei county that, at the time, was mostly farmland. Less a modern style hospital or a prison, Losheng is actually a sprawling and rather pleasant, almost collegiate-looking, campus with abundant greenery and attractive brick buildings. The main hospital building looks properly medical, and the general sense of design reflects its Japanese period origins, with semi-exposed corridors reminiscent of the older buildings on the Japanese Imperial Universities of the early 20th century, such as today’s National Taiwan University or Kyoto National University (the two examples whose architecture I am familiar with). Most other buildings are also in the pre-war Japanese style common in Taiwan, with a few notable exceptions. The least Japanese buildings in Losheng are probably the Buddhist temple, which is in standard Taiwanese style, and the now shuttered Catholic Church, which is perhaps the most spartan Catholic church building I have ever seen, with only a spare cross on the roof and no writing of any kind on the outside, but with a green Chinese roof, oddly complete with dragon tiles on the corners, and outer walls painted in the Chinese temple fashion. It reminds me of nothing so much as the far more elaborate Tainan Catholic cathedral, which is constructed and painted completely in the manner of a Chinese temple, if you do not look too close at the paintings. Of particular interest are the residence buildings for patients (originally, remember, inmates) from particular parts of Taiwan, such as Penghu or Tainan, donated by the governments of that region.

I mentioned above activity integrating the Losheng campus into the greater community. This consists of various activities, such as holding lectures and community meetings inside Losheng, or educational programs for children. As chance had it, I happened to go on a day which was particularly active. Community activists are currently running a summer camp for children from various elementary schools in the area, using various Losheng buildings for different activities. I was taken to see the room being used for a week-long Japanese language class run by a Japanese woman studying a PhD in Urban Planning at National Taiwan University, in the room of the hospital building where the sickest patients were brought, connected by a locked iron door to the much smaller room where they were taken to die. This is either morbidly incongruous beyond belief, or an excellent symbol of the way in which the space is being reclaimed and repurposed from its grim past. But little of that darkness remains. The staff (mostly Taiwanese college students) had cleaned the room fastidiously, and it was festooned with child drawings illustrating various basic Japanese words and phrases.

Then I went to a much larger room, a sort of meeting hall I suppose, where the kids were being led in Japanese songs by some of the old patients who remember their Japanese well. One played the keyboard-no easy task with hands ravaged by Hansen’s Disease, while another sat in front of the stage in his motor chair, leading the children in Furosato.

After the class was over, I spent some time speaking to the old men, who seemed both movingly thrilled and slightly amazed to have so many young people, children, teenagers and 20-somethings, having fun inside Losheng and spending time with the patients as human beings, and not afraid of their no longer contagious disease. As is the case with many elderly Taiwanese, their first language is Taiwanese (aka Minnan, Hoklo, Fukkianese, etc.) Their Mandarin is generally weak and heavily accented, and most of them also speak Japanese to some degree, having undergone elementary education during the colonial period. I spent the most time speaking with one old man, Chang Wen-pin 张文贫, whose fluent Japanese was easily the best out of the group.

Mr. Chang, now 81 if my calculations are correct, went to a Japanese colonial elementary school in Taiwan and worked as, I think, a locksmith both under the Japanese and in the early years of the KMT, before he was interned. He was around 20 years old at the time of the 228 incident, and considers Chiang Kai-shek to be the worst thing to have happened to Taiwan.

To paraphrase, translated and from memory:

Taiwan’s history is full of tragedy. After WW2 Taiwan shouldn’t have been given to Chiang Kai-shek, but instead the allies should have occupied it. America, England and Russia should have managed Taiwan and then organized it for independence. If they had done that then we would have avoided the 228 massacre and noone in Taiwan would be speaking Mandarin (lit: guoyu) today!

Mr. Chang and the others made me promise to come back and visit next time I come to Taiwan, and before I left he made me wait while he went back to his room and brought a copy of the photo and essay book about Losheng assembled by the preservationist activists, which he signed and gave to me.

roy_berman_losheng_2Countless speakers have said that “A society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.” The leper has always been a symbol for the lowest in society, and despite having no use for religion myself, I think I can understand why Mr. Chang finds his solace in Christianity, a religion in which the leper is a symbol not of disgust, but of redemption. It says a lot of a society in which lepers are no longer lepers, but patients, and the resurrection of Losheng from a medical prison into a park where children play may be taken as a symbol for Taiwan’s transformation from colony and then military dictatorship into the relatively free and effectively independent country that it is today. But the current metro expansion plan still requires the demolition of something like 30-40% of Losheng’s territory, with some buildings kept in place, a few relocated, and many destroyed entirely. Even the preservationists have abandoned their attempts to save the entire site, with construction of the nearby depot building already well under way, and their best case plan today is the “90% plan.” There is still room for improvement.

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週三, 02 七月 2008

Food Safety and Consumer's Education

I left the road and went into the wood. The path was large and smooth. I had been told that it would lead me to a circular wall of stones, the remains of a common house or a sacred ground built by one the people who had anonymously ventured into the island. Not much was left of the little colony that had settled there around four thousand years ago. A few weapons and fragments of pottery had been excavated, and were now exhibited elsewhere, in a little-known museum. Most of the findings had probably been kept by the locals. In the wood, there was no signpost - you just had to follow the path till you bumped into this circular wall made of heavy and reddish stones. Turning on the left, I found the opening, a very large stone adorning its top. Once inside, it seemed to be a shell carved in the heart of the forest: you could bend your back and venture into little rooms arranged all around the inner circle drawn by the rough wall. The upper ranges of stones had disappeared, but the design was reminiscent of a hut or, somehow, a big igloo. One could easily imagine a kind of rounded roof, a space left on the top for letting the smoke fly towards the sky, together with the songs, the laughs or the curses that were exchanged around the fire.

I sat outside the circle, against the wall. From there, one could not distinguish the valley, so heavy was the cover of the trees on the slopes. But the space around the remains was half cleared, and I could see the evening sky. It was still intensely blue, though, from place to place, it now seemed to mirror the shades of the stones and the trunks. The moon was already there, discreet and ill at ease like a guest who has made a mistake and arrives too early for dinner – in this second half of the month of June, the light would just not go away, and was bathing earth and sky as long as it could. It took hours before the night was night at last, ruled by the small moon crescent and by strong, vibrant stars, all of them glazing at the wall and surely also at myself, as I was now lying on my back, defiantly watching at whomever was watching me.

And then… after this long vigil, music was suddenly flowing, a rarefied music, music that gives itself from the shell of silence; from the shell of the ear, from the shell of the inner rooms this wall was encircling, from the birds and the beasts of the night, from the blind wind hesitantly touching trees, grass and stones, from the earth and its bones, from my breath and the stars, from what was dark and what was not. Maybe this ground had been chosen and erected for giving pulse and vibration to the music that flows by night, to music that searches who will capture it in its nest and will then offer it in return to what or whom music comes from. The ground had been the harp through which sounds and rhythms were finding their shape and their master, and were, night after night, spelling the sentence to utter and repeat in new and endless variations. The harp now was resonating faintly, but to the one who would apply his ear against the stones and the earth that assembled them the sentence was still audible, as clear as the stars in the cloudless night. And I finally closed my eyes, not looking anymore at who was watching over me, but listening to the silence running under my voice and to the voice hidden in the silence I was reaching.

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週四, 01 五 2008

Good Old Charlie Brown

In the Peanuts comic strip of Charles Schulz there was one recurring scene in which Lucy persuades Charlie Brown to kick the football which she is positioning for him on the ground. Then inevitably at the last moment she pulls the ball away and Charlie Brown’s foot failing to make contact with the ball flies into the air and throws him off balance so he lands with a loud grunt flat on his back. No matter how many times he is fooled, he falls for the trick every time.

Is Charlie Brown so gullible, he never learns? Or does he realize it is still probably a trick, but goes along with it anyway? What if this will be the one time she doesn’t take the ball away? He will have lost his only chance to kick the ball.

To the Charlie Browns of this life there is nothing or no one who is so bad that there is no hope for change. Such an attitude quite obviously has no effect on Lucy, but who knows how many times in the course of his life, Charlie’s Brown willingness to forgive and allow others to redeem themselves will be the turning point that stops someone from continuing down a path that would lead to ruin.

We tend to laugh at the apparent weakness of someone who innocently turns the other cheek to his or her tormentor, but only God knows how many times that courageous gesture saved the other cheek from suffering the fate of the first.

What the world needs are fewer Lucys and far more Charlie Browns.

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週三, 30 四月 2008

无粮的那一天

饥饿,将不再只是未发展国家的问题,而是全人类都必须面对的严峻考验。

方岚萱 撰文

过去一个月间,各地不断传出因为粮食与物价造成的动乱,如泰国米价三个月内翻涨两倍;埃及首都开罗民众群起上街头抗议物价一个月内飙升两倍;中共总理温家宝最近则频频至河北省考察春耕情况,同时对内强调「有粮则安」,不过香港已经出现抢粮情况。海地首都太子港数千人上街示威抗议,主因也是物价高涨。菲律宾总统艾若育则宣布:「任何人被发现偷人民稻米者都将被送进监牢」。
台湾白米价格一年来涨幅约为一成,三月政府释出公粮价格回稳,但小麦、大豆、饲料玉米等杂粮主要都来自进口,因此面粉、食油、畜产品价格不断上升。而最新消息指出,高粮价的情况将持续十年以上。
这不是突然发生的状况,去年美林证券报告便已指出小麦、稻米及玉米等谷物全球库存只够满足全球人口六十天的需求量。联合国粮农组织同样提出警告:「全球粮食存量为过去二十五年最低水准。」有些人将其归咎于崛起中的印度象与中国龙,这确实是缺粮危机的主因,但缺粮的隐忧其实早在迈入全球化、乃至更早的工业革命开始时就已踏上这险峻的陡坡。
工业革命开始后,以及随后而起的全球化浪潮席卷下,国家疆域模糊了,人员、物资来往呈倍数成长,尤其跨国公司及全球性的生产网络亦发紧密时,看似壮阔的世界市场俨然成为资本主义者的天堂。不论身在何处的世界公民们,似乎只能够蓦然接受这不公平的经济结构。而自工业革命开始人类毫无节制破坏环境与生态的作法,成了毁灭人类栖息地的主因;地球天然资源取之不尽、用之不竭的神话,亦随著不断攀升的油价幻灭。为了解决能源问题而兴起的「生质能源」推广计画,反成了缺粮的帮凶。美国的玉米、巴西的甘蔗、东南亚的橄榄油,这些原本计画解决能源问题的救命仙丹,数年内反而成致命毒药。因为,用来填饱肚子的玉米少了;种稻的田被用来种甘蔗;而东南亚为了应付欧洲对橄榄油的需求,大片雨林成了满足欲望的亡魂,过度使用化学肥料也造成当地土地与水污染。
刚刚光复的台湾,那时不论怎么穷至少都还有蕃薯签的稀饭能吃。如今台湾人要面对的不仅是全球性经济停滞性通膨危机,无粮的日子将是另一项更为重大的考验。因为那早在人类将「破坏」视为「建设」的开始,便已注定我们要承受这历史共业。除非,我们不再将「工业」与「环境」视为二元对立,并且愿意减低满足欲望的念头。那么,剥削的经济结构才有可能导正,对于世界环境的破坏才可能减少。你、我也才不用担心无粮的那一天,就是「明天」。

附加的多媒体:
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週三, 30 四月 2008

無糧的那一天

飢餓,將不再只是未發展國家的問題,而是全人類都必須面對的嚴峻考驗。

方嵐萱 撰文

過去一個月間,各地不斷傳出因為糧食與物價造成的動亂,如泰國米價三個月內翻漲兩倍;埃及首都開羅民眾群起上街頭抗議物價一個月內飆升兩倍;中共總理溫家寶最近則頻頻至河北省考察春耕情況,同時對內強調「有糧則安」,不過香港已經出現搶糧情況。海地首都太子港數千人上街示威抗議,主因也是物價高漲。菲律賓總統艾若育則宣布:「任何人被發現偷人民稻米者都將被送進監牢」。
台灣白米價格一年來漲幅約為一成,三月政府釋出公糧價格回穩,但小麥、大豆、飼料玉米等雜糧主要都來自進口,因此麵粉、食油、畜產品價格不斷上升。而最新消息指出,高糧價的情況將持續十年以上。
這不是突然發生的狀況,去年美林證券報告便已指出小麥、稻米及玉米等穀物全球庫存只夠滿足全球人口六十天的需求量。聯合國糧農組織同樣提出警告:「全球糧食存量為過去二十五年最低水準。」有些人將其歸咎於崛起中的印度象與中國龍,這確實是缺糧危機的主因,但缺糧的隱憂其實早在邁入全球化、乃至更早的工業革命開始時就已踏上這險峻的陡坡。
工業革命開始後,以及隨後而起的全球化浪潮席捲下,國家疆域模糊了,人員、物資來往呈倍數成長,尤其跨國公司及全球性的生產網絡亦發緊密時,看似壯闊的世界市場儼然成為資本主義者的天堂。不論身在何處的世界公民們,似乎只能夠驀然接受這不公平的經濟結構。而自工業革命開始人類毫無節制破壞環境與生態的作法,成了毀滅人類棲息地的主因;地球天然資源取之不盡、用之不竭的神話,亦隨著不斷攀升的油價幻滅。為了解決能源問題而興起的「生質能源」推廣計畫,反成了缺糧的幫兇。美國的玉米、巴西的甘蔗、東南亞的橄欖油,這些原本計畫解決能源問題的救命仙丹,數年內反而成致命毒藥。因為,用來填飽肚子的玉米少了;種稻的田被用來種甘蔗;而東南亞為了應付歐洲對橄欖油的需求,大片雨林成了滿足欲望的亡魂,過度使用化學肥料也造成當地土地與水污染。
剛剛光復的台灣,那時不論怎麼窮至少都還有蕃薯籤的稀飯能吃。如今台灣人要面對的不僅是全球性經濟停滯性通膨危機,無糧的日子將是另一項更為重大的考驗。因為那早在人類將「破壞」視為「建設」的開始,便已注定我們要承受這歷史共業。除非,我們不再將「工業」與「環境」視為二元對立,並且願意減低滿足欲望的念頭。那麼,剝削的經濟結構才有可能導正,對於世界環境的破壞才可能減少。你、我也才不用擔心無糧的那一天,就是「明天」。

附加的多媒體:
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週二, 18 三月 2008

A matter of opportunity and honesty

Every day around the globe, newspapers are full of reports about sudden changes of fortune, catastrophic events, fortuitous coincidences, chance encounters that in the space of a few moments change the course of people’s lives forever. For some it is a blessing that sets them in the direction of success and reputation beyond their wildest expectations. For others it starts them down the road to sadness and misery. It is not the nature of the event that determines the outcome, but the resilience and determination and resourcefulness of the ones affected.

It doesn’t matter what people have been or what they did in the past, but what they are doing now. Where are they heading? Are they still competing? Have they remained true to their principles?

It would be nice to always have good weather, pleasant companions, circumstances that enhance and ratify what one is doing, but often we find ourselves in difficult conditions and it is necessary to create our own opportunities and to swim against the current. If we do, then our lives have purpose and our efforts are worthwhile, even if they fall short of their goal.

Here is a fable I wrote that shows how a little ingenuity turned a piece of art into a treasure.

The Counterfeit Antique

What makes an antique valuable? Perhaps it is the only surviving specimen of some ancient object or a relic of some historical significance or it belonged to someone famous or is made of precious materials. In the long run it is not what it was or what it is that determines its value but the fact that someone is willing to buy it at some outrageous price so they can boast of owning it or believe they have an investment that will go up in value so they can resell it for profit. The restoration of damaged or tarnished antiques is also a lucrative business. So is the illegal smuggling of ancient artifacts and forgery of fake antiques.

Once upon a time there was an honest artisan named Philip. He was making a good living from antiques, not by selling them or restoring them, but by making replicas of them. His reproductions were so authentic in every detail including the effects of aging that sometimes even the experts were fooled. One day he made an article that was almost perfect. It would surely fetch at least half a million dollars on the open market if it were real. But Philip was neither greedy nor dishonest. He knew that as an acknowledged product of modern technology, it was worth much less than that.

This didn’t bother Philip. But it did bother his wife. She was determined to find a way to get that half a million dollars. “There must be some way we can honestly get all that money for ourselves,” she thought. Then she had a brilliant idea. It wasn’t exactly dishonest. It just postponed the moment of honesty.

Since Philip left all business matters in the hands of his wife, he was unaware of her scheme, which he would surely have opposed, because if it didn’t succeed he would go to jail and his reputation would be ruined. His wife put the plan into action. She secretly arranged for the article to be discovered covered with dust in the attic of an old mansion that had once belonged to an eccentric millionaire who had sometimes bought rare antiques. It was hailed as one of the finds of the century. Experts were called in who had no doubts about its authenticity.

The one part of the plan the wife had had qualms about was the deception of the experts. She felt especially sorry for the one with the biggest reputation who was a close friend, so she let him in on the plan. Phillip’s artifact was put on the block for public auction by a prestigious auction firm. When the dust finally settled it was sold for $800,000.

When the gavel came down after the last bid, the art expert got up and made a shocking announcement. “I am very sorry to say that there has been a mistake. This sale was engineered to alert the public to be more cautious when buying antiques. This magnificent article here, which even had some experts fooled temporarily, is not really 2000 years old. It was made last year by Philip. See, right here hidden away in a secret place is Philip’s mark.”

The revelation caused a sensation. The expert who made the announcement was praised for his perception and honesty. Philip’s reputation as a craftsman was so enhanced that everything he had made immediately jumped in value and his future creations commanded much higher prices.

As for the antique replica in question, not only did it have the quality of craftsmanship to commend it, it was now famous as the piece that fooled the experts, so when it was subsequently auctioned not as an antique but as an authentic Philip’s, it still sold for over half a million dollars.

Philip’s wife was ecstatic. Philip had no time to rejoice. He was too busy working on the new commissions for his work that were pouring in.


There are lessons hidden here.

Unfortunately the pay for “it pays to be honest” is not always cash. Sometimes you just have to be content with the reward of a good conscience.

“Honesty is the best policy”, but like all policies, it has to be paid for. “The truth will make you free”, but not necessarily rich.

Sometimes the only way to tell the truth so people will listen is to embellish it.

“To tell nothing but the truth” is not enough if it isn’t the whole truth.

Something good turned into something better, because someone added something extra.

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週四, 13 三月 2008

When I was a kid, records were my teddy bears

Have you ever bought music on the Internet? I purchased my first couple of MP3s on the Web last week and it was the most depressing shopping experiment I have ever had. No illustrations or liner notes. Not even a receipt that I could have kept as a souvenir in case my computer would be destroyed by a killer virus. Just a file on my desktop, which name consisted of a series of random letters and numbers. That is not what the whole music industry had promised me. Music purchased on the Internet was supposed to be the future of music: a future where my shelves would not be clogged up with plastic CD boxes anymore, where my favorite song would not systematically be corrupted by scratches, and where I would only listen to the music I like, instead of having to buy those full-length albums in which half the tracks are rubbish. But for me, this future looks like more of a regression.

For Walter Benjamin, the mechanical reproduction of works of art (films, records or photographs) had led to the erasure of their sacred value. Now, the digitalization of such devices leads to a further loss: that of our affective attachment to all these daily objects, vinyl records, CDs and cassettes that used to clog up our shelves. The thrilling sensation of unfolding a new disc and putting it gently on the record player has been replaced by a cold and impersonal click on your mouse. The whole ritual that constituted our listening experience is vanishing as our old musical objects are being replaced by immaterial files. In these dark digital ages, maybe the time has come to sing a happy requiem to our old and beloved records – before we import them all in our iTunes libraries.

Among my memories of childhood, some of the most vivid lie in these countless hours spent in my elder brother’s room, browsing through his huge rock and punk records collection. I was only five or six years old by that time, and I would probably have received a good pair of smacks if I had dared to put any of those black acetate discs on the record player. But however, I was still allowed to watch the covers, and that is how I discovered most of what were to become my favorite bands and artists: by looking at pictures printed on 12-inch cardboard squares. For the middle-class child that I was living in a cozy suburb where the only annoyances where the dogs and pigeons’ droppings that made the streets look like Jackson Pollock paintings, such images were like these exotic names you discover when reading an atlas: sources of dream, curiosity and excitement. At a time when reading a book gave me the most terrible headaches, record covers were like a window wide open to the world, from where I could glance at white rockers and black jazzmen, leather jackets and three-piece suits, sexy girls and freckle-faced kids. They were also a way for me to develop a rather personal culture: before the age of ten I was already able to namedrop a few hundred names of bands whose music I still had not listened to.

I can still remember vividly some particular items of such sulfurous iconography. There were the covers that paralyzed me with fright, like these Motörhead LPs full of skulls and fat bikers. There were also the mysterious ones: this big yellow banana on a Velvet Underground record drawn by a guy called Andy Warhol; or that immaculate disc by P.I.L. with just a dark triangle of hair in the middle. But my favorite covers were definitely these of David Bowie’s records: each of them seemed to portrait a different person. The young guy that still looked like any other folk singer on Space Oddity suddenly became an androgynous character on the front illustration of Aladdin Sane, before turning into a strange creature, half-man half-beast on the Diamond Dogs cover. As a channel for Bowie’s perpetual self-reinvention, these covers conveyed an almost mythological meaning that in many respects exceeded the music itself. Looking at such a rich and extravagant iconography, I think now that my teenage fascination for rock stars was created as much by images as by the music itself.

So whatever the future of music looks like, I will still cherish my good old vinyl records. LPs are not just about music and sound – they also have a smell and a specific touch quality. I guess they also have a taste, although I never tried to eat any of those old plates. But most importantly, they are primarily ritual objects. Here is my problem with computer-purchased music: I’d like to take care of my MP3s, to clean the fingerprints on their surface and to store them in nice comfortable boxes. I also would like to be able to break them, to make scratches on them, to dirty their covers with my graffiti. MP3s make me anxious: they make me fear of a world where objects would have disappeared, where books and records and all sorts of devices would become simple digital artifacts displayed on a screen. I want to have my bookshelves clogged up with things, even the most useless ones. Because objects do not only fill empty spaces on your bookshelves: they are living parts of your memories, they belong to your heart and flesh, they make you feel less lonely when you are alone. When I was a kid, records were my teddy bears.


週三, 05 三月 2008

基因作物能解決飢荒嗎?

魏明德 撰文

根據二月二十八日《聯合報》報導,聯合國「卡他黑納生物安全公約」去年九月生效,在處理、運用、包裝、辨識基改產品出口時建立一套嚴密的系統。一百多個國家在二月底通過有關基改產品外銷的規則,包括歐洲聯盟在內的八十六個國家。然而,全世界最大基因改造作物生產國美國缺席,並對這個結果表示失望。美國總是宣稱基改產品可以援助非洲國家,它真的能夠幫助這些國家改善問題嗎?

對於基因改造作物是否予以商業化銷售,布希政府官員和歐洲國家代表雙方針鋒相對,其中不乏「道德說」的爭論。美國貿易代表佐立克(Robert Zoellick)強烈指責歐洲的立場「不道德」,因為歐洲以糧食含改造基因生物為由,慫恿某些非洲國家拒絕接受美國的糧食援助。美國當局使用「違反人性的罪」一詞,抨擊歐洲對基因改造作物的商業化銷售始終抱持疑慮的態度。我們是否應該就此相信,美國的論點只是為了人道救援而已呢?在糧食救援非洲的論戰背後,美國和歐洲其實有著重大的利益對決。

美國強力外銷
基因改造作物

糧食救援始於一九五○年代,北半球國家將過剩的農產品流通到貧窮國家,同時也是延續雙方貿易的一種方式。不過,現在美國很難打開基因改造作物如玉米和黃豆的外銷市場,不只是因為歐洲的態度保留,連某些亞洲國家如中國大陸和日本也限制基因轉殖作物的種籽進口。英國生物農業推廣協會就美國基因改造生物的現況提出報告:「一九九九年以來,為了黃豆、玉米、油菜的基因改造工程,美國政府至少補助了一百二十億美元,同時必須面臨市場價格降低、外銷市場減少、農產品回收。(…)由於出口數量下降,栽種基因轉殖作物使得國內農產品價格下跌,美國政府每年必須再補貼三百萬到五百萬美元。」在這樣的情況下,某些公司的壓力團體向美國政府施壓,希望美國政府在世界貿易組織控告歐盟,要求歐洲改變對基因改造生物所抱持的態度,因為這使得美國的農業經濟瀕臨破產邊緣。不管怎麼說,美國利用外交和經濟的手段,早已把十幾萬噸玉米成功運到辛巴威、莫三比克、馬拉威、賴索托和衣索比亞等非洲國家。只有尚比亞堅守立場,拒絕購買。歐盟執委會、荷蘭、日本、坦尚尼亞、肯亞和烏干達等國則釋出了一些基金或存糧,讓尚比亞能夠使用沒有經過基因轉殖的糧食。

第三世界實質受惠少

隨著科技和政經的爭論,聯合國糧食暨農業組織(FAO)多年來表達了一體兩面的看法:該組織一方面強調基因改造的潛能可以改善熱帶作物的抗旱性,一方面也警覺到基因改造會破壞生物多樣性。聯合國糧食暨農業組織也警告大家要提防「金錢」掌控大局的危險,一九九九年該組織在報告中指出:「生物科技的研發費用通常較傳統研發昂貴,其用途必須控制在某些特殊需求,因為生物科技的回收太可觀了。」該組織的會員國已經開始擔憂,就運用生物科技的能力而言,已開發國家和開發中國家之間出現落差。儘管歷經諸多警告、承諾和努力,生物科技對紓解世界上的飢餓問題根本沒有貢獻。聯合國糧食暨農業組織指出:「熱帶半旱區的五種主要作物目前並沒有得到任何實質的研究投資。(…)百分之七十農產品生物科技的研究多在「已開發國家」或是「先進的開發中國家」私立研究室完成。大家並沒有針對貧窮、落後環境提出公共規劃,也沒有在這些國家針對耕種問題(如木薯耕種)提出相關的因應措施。」該組織承認飢餓的原因來自生產不足,而政局不穩和食物通路的問題也是重要因素。
事實上,目前以每人每天攝取兩千八百仟卡為基準,世界上的糧食產量應該是充足的,糧食分配不均才是造成營養不良和飢荒的禍首。怎麼說基因改造作物會讓現在的糧食分配更為平均呢?
再說,引進基因改造生物的目的在給予某些農業耕作者一個新的面貌,改採單一企業化的耕種,逐漸適應全球化的經濟貿易,這樣一來卻使得傳統多樣化的耕種變得邊緣化。換句話說,新的農業耕作者會使得原本的小型農業耕作者被淘汰或愈來愈窮。全球中耕地不足一公頃的耕作者有三分之二的人餓肚子。不論「綠色革命」或是基因改造工程,科技的進步並不像公司或企業所保證的能夠改善這些人的生活。相反的,永續經營的小型農業所使用的技術雖然簡單,資金也較低廉,卻可以增加可觀的收益。

附加的多媒體:
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