Sydney Kendall Says

Thinking in public about anything that matters.

Live 8?

I am not religious. I do not believe that we get a second chance once we’ve died. No reincarnation. No heaven or even hell. If a person has gone through hell on earth and then dies without getting to enjoy life, that is tragic to me, because I really don’t expect there to be anything better afterward. Or anything at all.

Hence I, too, like so many rockers and movies stars (who may or may not believe in life after death), wish that we could do something to help those Africans who presently suffer in poverty and misery to instead live the good life. I wish we could do something real.

So I’m creating the category of “Africa” among my pages, for the purpose of exploring questions related to African poverty. I don’t believe that the celebrities of the recent “Live8 ” concert who urge the wealthiest nations to give more aid to Africa have set their sites on the right enemy or the right solution. Their scheme, as I understand it, allows participants to feel helpful and righteous. But will it, in a significant and lasting way, help suffering Africans to throw off their poverty and live fulfilling lives? Or is it destined to waste millions of dollars while nothing changes?

Unfortunately at the moment I don’t have time delve into this topic, but I read a commentary piece today at The Daily Telegraph that I think is on the right track.

CLICK!It’s no in-depth examination, which is what I hope to find time for later. But I think it’s headed in a good direction.

For the moment, that is all.

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2 Comments

  1. Dear Sydney,

    Your post fired me up a little – taa! I got thinking about:

    “One thing I’m sure of: to make the right kind of government you have to have a sufficient number of people who understand the ethics of liberty and prosperity, and who are able to work their way into government and make laws supporting the same. You need a good enough base of understanding for that ethical system throughout the society that you can find plenty of uncorruptible police, judges, military, etc., to carry our those laws and to turn in and prosecute those officials who abuse their power.”

    I wonder what a “sufficient number of people” would be? I recall studying Asian History about the migration of ideas from Europe and the USA in the late 19th C to Asian countries; the Asian country tended to send a small group of Scholars to, say Oxford, or the Sourbourne, to learn all they could and bring back those ideas to strengthen their country. It was mostly a nationalistic undertaking on the part of the Asian countries, but these students often returned home to become famous and influential local figures, and many times the home countries got more than they bargained for! (Many Chinese Students came back enamoured with French art to produce local literature and art, usually with European styled Nationalistic messages). China famously had Sun Yet Sen, who spent many years in America and Europe, ‘exiled’, being heavily influenced by the West. And Japan had Hirobumi Ito whoes visit to England in the 1860’s convinced him to modernize Japan by adopting western ways.

    Not so hot an example, but same principle: Gandhi; didnt he spend a little time in South Africa learning law? Deng Xiao Ping was educated in France. Its amazing how many Eastern leaders, right up to the present, were educated on western University campuses.

    Anyway, it seems that history has hundreds of famous examples of overseas students who return to their native land, and for better or worse, have an extraordinary influence over the culture, politics and direction of their country. Perhaps they return thinking they have ‘seen the light’ so to speak, with confidence, passion and new ideas that startle their generation into action.

    Today’s western universities are less enthusiastic about fundamental ethical and political ideas; students still return to influence their homeland, but with the more mediocre corresponding intellectual baggage. But I have a hunch that a single passionate Epistemology/Ethics/Politics/Law professor, mentoring a class of even a mere 2 dozen African students for ~3 years, would be enough to set about a whirl-wind of change.

    The students could be on sponsored scholarship, of say 17-19 years of age, selected for their past scholastic record, personal integrity, an element of love or hope for the betterment of their homeland, for being reasonable, proud and outspoken. Maybe even a mere million dollars a year could be enough, depending on the quality of the teacher.

    In 1994, on scholarship in Beijing to learn Mandarin, I met many African students; their governments had sent them to Beijing in droves to get a cheap uni education – they were poor even by local standards, and boy did they have a rough time (mainly for being black). I do not think they returned to their homeland much inspired, and what the chinese taught them about Law/Politics etc was simply poison.

    But I’d say the “Aristotle – Alexander the Great” model (well, not exactly! lol) is the way to go. (Mmm, even Alex was from the poorer Macedonia, sent out by Philip for a better education).

    I’d say an educative trip ‘abroad’ allows one to see Contrasts. It can be a shocking, galvanising, experience. It could do Africa a world of good to see the alternatives.

    Kind Regards,

    Xavier

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  2. Thanks you Xavier, for your informative and optimistic post!

    I think that’s a crucial nail that you’ve hit on the head – students from poor countries studying abroad could spread ideas for the better back home, IF they get to have a really fine teacher who knows how to inspire and what to teach.

    It’s a shame, however, that such an opportunity depends on a student getting “lucky”. Or does it?

    You wrote “…But I have a hunch that a single passionate Epistemology/Ethics/Politics/Law professor, mentoring a class of even a mere 2 dozen African students for ~3 years, would be enough to set about a whirl-wind of change.

    “The students could be on sponsored scholarship, of say 17-19 years of age, selected for their past scholastic record, personal integrity, an element of love or hope for the betterment of their homeland, for being reasonable, proud and outspoken. Maybe even a mere million dollars a year could be enough, depending on the quality of the teacher.”

    I wonder how many free-market, liberty-loving educational institutions are already competing for students from Africa to achieve this purpose? Are free-market think tanks sponsoring university students from Africa? I wonder what’s already going on in this direction.

    Thanks again for your post!

    Sydney

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