For the Sake of Humanity
Speech delivered at the University of St. Thomas International dinner on the 14th of April 2018.
It was a slow day at work one afternoon, so I asked a co-worker of mine what she thought about Rex Tillerson getting fired on twitter. She looked at me puzzled. Then, I asked if she knew who Rex Tillerson was, and she said no. So I asked her, “Do you like politics?”
Her response: “I don’t really understand politics or know so much about it, so I get uncomfortable when people talk politics. I also really don’t like looking ignorant, so I just keep quiet or avoid the conservation.”
And there lies one the problem society faces today. Young people don’t like to engage with politics because it either makes them uncomfortable or they don’t want to offend other people. So, we chose to be passive about politics.
While human beings need the feeling of comfort it is important to note that comfort leads to familiarity which leads to complacency and eventually decay. The saying, “nothing good comes easy” is a truism. Change is uncomfortable but important for progress. We don’t have to like it, but we know we need it.
One thing we know is that for people with different worldviews, beliefs and lifestyles to live in peace, some sort of political arrangement has to be made. This is very important, given the state our society today.
The German playwright Bertolt Brecht said, quote:
“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events... The political illiterate is so ignorant that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics…”
Everything is political. We don’t like to say it, but we know it is the truth.
The problem in politics is how we chose to engage with it. We generally avoid political engagement, choosing to be politically passive, which leads to political aggression or violence and eventually a breakdown of the political system. And when a political system breaks, the State for all intent and purposes fails and genocidal atrocities fill the vacuum. We have seen this dangerous cycle happen around the world many times. Hence, we all need to be engaged to prevent this from ever happening again.
But to be politically engaged we must understand the issues and all their nuances. We must be willing to educate ourselves.
The generations before us have built over capacity. Historically, progress has been determined by increase. More Growth. More food, more energy. More. Our ancestors have created a civilization that has become a danger to itself, just by its sheer size. It’s a natural law, once something gets too big, it first goes through stress, then becomes strained and eventually breaks.
Our civilization today is going through stress we can’t wait for it break before we do something about it.
The issues of the next half century, from Climate change to Cyber warfare, to environmental justice, all have to do with politics.
The theme for this event is “Love without Borders.” At no other time in history could this be more important as it is now. What and where we have historically defined as our borders could soon be called to question in the next couple of decades.
For example, if the catastrophic ramifications of climate change begins to happen many parts of the world would become inhabitable. Studies show that, the safest places in the world would be, currently the coldest places in the world. A great migration towards the North and South poles would happen.
Borders would become meaningless. Imagine the political nightmare this would be for those, like us in the Bold North, when millions of people affected by climate change begin to show up at our doorsteps. Now you tell me you are not interested in politics then.
Enough of the rigidity and dogmatism that were tenets of previous generations. It is time for us to dig deep into these issues to truly understand them and utilize the necessary political frameworks to make change.
I invite you to seek thoughtful conversation. I invite you to ask questions. I Invite you to be hungry for knowledge.
The next 50 years will be crucial in determining if the Human species would endure for another 1000 years. Let it not be said, by our children and grandchildren, that when the survival of humanity was brought to question, we did not stand up to the challenge, because we did not want to be uncomfortable. For the Sake of Humanity, I invite you to stand up to the challenge.
Thank you for listening.