Category Archives: Philosophy

Only the strongest can kill themselves for peace.

In a Japan, a man set himself on fire to protest a change in policy allowing Japan to fight overseas, which goes against the constitution which bars the country from using force in conflicts except for self-defence.  It follows another self-immolation in June, in an apparently similar protest.

Suicide is not an easy option.  It demands the greatest courage because you do not want to die, but you want to kill even less and you want to show the world that violence is wrong.

Many people have self-immolated in Tibet over the past few years to protest the authoritarian regime which steals property and livelihoods, incarcerates innocents and encourages rape and violence.  Few people hear of this and no nation cares to influence its cessation.  They are more likely to pursue violence and belligerence themselves.

BBC: Japan man self-immolates ‘in protest over military shift’

DTRTTRW in yoga pants: FouseyTube

More than 15 million people have watched Yousef Saleh Erakat’s most popular video – the Yoga Pants Prank.  It’s funny and it works.

Erakat highlights embarrassing aspects of modern culture, like men gawking at women (when they shouldn’t) and women flaunting their booty in public, which encourages men to be misogynistic and other women to flaunt theirs.  He covers alot of culturally sensitive issues, especially ones faced in bicultural communities like arab/american.

Have a look at this BBC report to get an insight in to Erakat Doing The Right Thing The Right Way.

He has two million subscribers to his YouTube channel FouseyTUBE.

OK, and here’s the Yoga pants video.

Euthanasia’s time is coming.

Death is an unknown and that makes it easy to fear it.  Although it is a natural part of the cycle of life, western culture tends to ignore it and treat it as an unfamiliar phenomenon requiring dark rituals.  That approach contrasts starkly with the advanced technology we play with every day and the deep and broad understanding we have of how the universe works.  Keeping people alive is a noble aspiration, but nowadays space age technology pushes the bounds of natural behaviour keeping bodies alive when the brain is dead, or the brain alive when the body is dead.  And enough people find themselves in such pain living, whether physical or emotional pain, that they seek death.  While that choice might be morally and naturally defensible, the law in most countries makes suicide illegal.  But in some countries a choice is there and that choice is slowly becoming more available and better informed.  It is certainly wrong to kill people or allow them to die against their will, but there are occasions when the choice should be available.  That is the loudest and strongest message from those who wish to choose – that their right to choose is immorally withheld.

It is wrong to criminalise people seeking euthanasia for the right reason and criminalising those that assist.  I cry with respect at the sight of a Tibetan student or monk self-immolating because to live as a slave under repression is worse than death.  The problem is the oppression not the suicide.

The problem is the restriction on choice and opportunity, not with the person who chooses death over painful or unhappy life.

Belgium is in the throes of discussing legalisation of euthanasia for infants and children – a particularly difficult subject since an argument can be made that they are not in a position to choose.  But even that is not clearly evident.

That is why laws are changing.

I hope that if I ever want to choose,  I can.

Here are some resources on euthanasia:

Wikipedia on euthanasia.

BBC on euthanasia.

Wikipedia summary of Peter Singer on euthanasia.

Taking Life: Humans by Peter Singer.

Facing down immorality might not pay, but it’s the only option.

Ethical Corp, an on-online magazine, published an article Executive whistle blowing: what to do when no one listens (with useful comments too).   It is difficult to broach the subject of dealing with immoral behaviour in companies because people who are immoral don’t care and those that do can rarely change the culture.  The culture comes from the top and “the fish starts to stink at the head“, so you play along or suffer or get out.

The thing is, nowadays there are options.  You can find a better place to work.  You can take legal action (in some cases).  You can kick up a fuss and people will listen.  You still might lose your job and fail to get compensation.  But you will feel better and you will survive and your track record of bona fides will serve you well.

Big company CEOs earned 275X the typical employee.

That’s a huge difference.  And it’s not the difference between the top and the bottom, it’s the difference between the average and the average of the bosses.  According to a report in The New Yorker, in 1965 big company CEOs earned 20X the typical employee; today it’s 275X.  In terms of productivity and value added, that’s just unreasonable.

Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum

It was difficult to decipher the actual lyrics when we were children singing along at the top of our voices to the scratchy single on the little record player.  But maybe the chorus line influenced the idea that fighting is not a good idea.

If you knew the reason for their fighting you would never understand.

Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum
Middle of the Road

Do you recall
some years ago ?
Up in the mountains that were white with snow
inside a cavern
McDougal he was plannin’
there’s gonna be a showdown with somebody he knows.

Well he’s been there
a year or so
something will happen very soon I know
I hear him playin’ his bagpipes every mornin’
I think that it’s a warmin’
he’s gathering the clan.

Soon you’ll hear the sound of people shouting
you will see the claymores in their hands
if you knew the reason for their fighting
you would never understand.

Tweedle Dee
Oh Tweedle Dum.
The tune McDougal always used to hum
While he was fightin’ his rival clan McGregor
Dishonour he would never
the tartan of his clan.

Do you recall
some years ago ?
Up in the mountains that were white with snow
inside a cavern
McDougal he was plannin’
there’s gonna be a showdown with somebody he knows.

Soon you’ll hear the sound of people shouting
you will see the claymores in their hands
if you knew the reason for their fighting
you would never understand.

Tweedle Dee
Oh Tweedle Dum.
The tune McDougal always used to hum
While he was fightin’ his rival clan McGregor
Dishonour he would never
the tartan of his clan

The Commonwealth Charter – a good idea

Charter of the Commonwealth
We the people of the Commonwealth:
Recognising that in an era of changing economic circumstances and uncertainty, new trade
and economic patterns, unprecedented threats to peace and security, and a surge in popular
demands for democracy, human rights and broadened economic opportunities, the potential of
and need for the Commonwealth – as a compelling force for good and as an effective network
for co-operation and for promoting development – has never been greater,
Recalling that the Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent and equal
sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the
common interests of our peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and
world peace, and influencing international society to the benefit of all through the pursuit of
common principles and values,
Affirming that the special strength of the Commonwealth lies in the combination of our
diversity and our shared inheritance in language, culture and the rule of law; and bound
together by shared history and tradition; by respect for all states and peoples; by shared
values and principles and by concern for the vulnerable,
Affirming that the Commonwealth way is to seek consensus through consultation and the
sharing of experience, especially through practical co-operation, and further affirming that the
Commonwealth is uniquely placed to serve as a model and as a catalyst for new forms of
friendship and co-operation in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations,
Affirming the role of the Commonwealth as a recognised intergovernmental champion of small
states, advocating for their special needs; providing policy advice on political, economic and
social development issues; and delivering technical assistance,
Welcoming the valuable contribution of the network of the many intergovernmental,
parliamentary, professional and civil society bodies which support the Commonwealth and
which subscribe and adhere to its values and principles,
Affirming the validity of and our commitment to the values and principles of the Commonwealth
as defined and strengthened over the years including: the Singapore Declaration of
Commonwealth Principles, the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, the Langkawi Declaration
on the Environment, the Millbrook Action Programme, the Latimer House Principles, the
Aberdeen Agenda, the Trinidad and Tobago Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and
Principles, the Munyonyo Statement on Respect and Understanding, the Lake Victoria
Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan, the Perth Declaration on Food Security
Principles, and the Commonwealth Declaration on Investing in Young People,
Affirming our core Commonwealth principles of consensus and common action, mutual
respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy, and responsiveness,
Reaffirming the core values and principles of the Commonwealth as declared by this Charter:
We recognise the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in
particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live.
Governments, political parties and civil society are responsible for upholding and promoting
democratic culture and practices and are accountable to the public in this regard.
Parliaments and representative local governments and other forms of local governance are
essential elements in the exercise of democratic governance.
We support the role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to address promptly and
effectively all instances of serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values without
any fear or favour.
We are committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human
rights covenants and international instruments. We are committed to equality and respect for
the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including
the right to development, for all without discrimination on any grounds as the foundations of
peaceful, just and stable societies. We note that these rights are universal, indivisible,
interdependent and interrelated and cannot be implemented selectively.
We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race,
colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.
We firmly believe that international peace and security, sustainable economic growth and
development and the rule of law are essential to the progress and prosperity of all. We are
committed to an effective multilateral system based on inclusiveness, equity, justice and
international law as the best foundation for achieving consensus and progress on major global
challenges including piracy and terrorism.
We support international efforts for peace and disarmament at the United Nations and other
multilateral institutions. We will contribute to the promotion of international consensus on
major global political, economic and social issues. We will be guided by our commitment to
the security, development and prosperity of every member state.
We reiterate our absolute condemnation of all acts of terrorism in whatever form or
wherever they occur or by whomsoever perpetrated, with the consequent tragic loss of
human life and severe damage to political, economic and social stability. We reaffirm our
commitment to work together as a diverse community of nations, individually, and
collectively under the auspices and authority of the United Nations, to take concerted and
resolute action to eradicate terrorism.
We emphasise the need to promote tolerance, respect, understanding, moderation and
religious freedom which are essential to the development of free and democratic societies,
and recall that respect for the dignity of all human beings is critical to promoting peace and
We accept that diversity and understanding the richness of our multiple identities are
fundamental to the Commonwealth’s principles and approach.
We are committed to peaceful, open dialogue and the free flow of information, including
through a free and responsible media, and to enhancing democratic traditions and
strengthening democratic processes.
We recognise the importance of maintaining the integrity of the roles of the Legislature,
Executive and Judiciary. These are the guarantors in their respective spheres of the rule of
law, the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and adherence to good
We believe in the rule of law as an essential protection for the people of the Commonwealth
and as an assurance of limited and accountable government. In particular we support an
independent, impartial, honest and competent judiciary and recognise that an independent,
effective and competent legal system is integral to upholding the rule of law, engendering
public confidence and dispensing justice.
We reiterate our commitment to promote good governance through the rule of law, to ensure
transparency and accountability and to root out, both at national and international levels,
systemic and systematic corruption.
We recognise that sustainable development can help to eradicate poverty by pursuing
inclusive growth whilst preserving and conserving natural ecosystems and promoting
social equity.
We stress the importance of sustainable economic and social transformation to eliminate
poverty and meet the basic needs of the vast majority of the people of the world and
reiterate that economic and social progress enhances the sustainability of democracy.
We are committed to removing wide disparities and unequal living standards as guided by
internationally agreed development goals. We are also committed to building economic
resilience and promoting social equity, and we reiterate the value in technical assistance,
capacity building and practical cooperation in promoting development.
We are committed to an effective, equitable, rules-based multilateral trading system, the
freest possible flow of multilateral trade on terms fair and equitable to all, while taking into
account the special requirements of small states and developing countries.
We also recognise the importance of information and communication technologies as
powerful instruments of development; delivering savings, efficiencies and growth in our
economies, as well as promoting education, learning and the sharing of culture. We are
committed to strengthening its use while enhancing its security, for the purpose of
advancing our societies.
We recognise the importance of the protection and conservation of our natural ecosystems
and affirm that sustainable management of the natural environment is the key to sustained
human development. We recognise the importance of multilateral cooperation, sustained
commitment and collective action, in particular by addressing the adaptation and mitigation
challenges of climate change and facilitating the development, diffusion and deployment of
affordable environmentally friendly technologies and renewable energy, and the prevention of
illicit dumping of toxic and hazardous waste as well as the prevention and mitigation of erosion
and desertification.
We recognise the necessity of access to affordable health care, education, clean drinking
water, sanitation and housing for all citizens and emphasise the importance of promoting
health and well-being in combating communicable and non-communicable diseases.
We recognise the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food,
consistent with the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of
national food security.
We recognise that gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential components of
human development and basic human rights. The advancement of women’s rights and
the education of girls are critical preconditions for effective and sustainable development.
We recognise the positive and active role and contributions of young people in promoting
development, peace, democracy and in protecting and promoting other Commonwealth
values, such as tolerance and understanding, including respect for other cultures. The future
success of the Commonwealth rests with the continued commitment and contributions of
young people in promoting and sustaining the Commonwealth and its values and principles,
and we commit to investing in and promoting their development, particularly through the
creation of opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship.
We are committed to assisting small and developing states in the Commonwealth, including
the particular needs of small island developing states, in tackling their particular economic,
energy, climate change and security challenges, and in building their resilience for the future.
We are committed to collaborating to find ways to provide immediate help to the poorest and
most vulnerable including least developed countries, and to develop responses to protect the
people most at risk.
We recognise the important role that civil society plays in our communities and countries as
partners in promoting and supporting Commonwealth values and principles, including the
freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and in achieving development goals.
We are committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth is an effective association, responsive to members’ needs, and capable of addressing the significant global challenges of the future.

We aspire to a Commonwealth that is a strong and respected voice in the world, speaking out on major issues; that strengthens and enlarges its networks; that has a global relevance and profile; and that is devoted to improving the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth.

Dated this 14th day of December 2012


Is a vegetative brain alive?

It looks like some medical books will be redrafted.  A patient who woke from a coma a decade ago and has been vegetative ever since, has now communicated with carers through brain imaging.  It’s the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-injured patient has been able to give “answers” clinically relevant to their care.

It will be interesting to see if Peter Singer has comments.

BBC: Vegetative patient: ‘I’m not in pain’