Differences in culture……

This from a blog called Live a Life Worthy…..

So Jeremiah went over the things that they are suppose to do in a fire…the basics that you learn in kindergarten but they were never taught it. One of the things was, “Stay and hold the door open while all your kids get out of the class then follow them” one of the teachers said, “Honestly, if there is a fire…I’m going to leave my kids and get out of the school” my mom and I just looked at each other thinking, how can this teacher leave thirty 2nd graders and run out the door. My mom turned the teacher next to her and said, “Would she really do that??” and she said, “Of course, she is much more important than the children, she has a husband and a family”

Live a Life Worthy is written by missionary lady who teaches in northern Iraq (though the above was actually written by one of her friends). I quote the above section because I think it provides an interesting insight into the Iraqi culture.

In America everyone would have proclaimed that would have done their up most to take care of the kids first. When push comes to shove, that might not always be the case, but we all feel obliged to pretend. In Iraq, that pretense is apparently not necessary.

I don’t know that this should really be taken as an example of the relative moral quality of Kurds vs Americans though. I just bet that there are different things that Kurds feel obliged to live up to. For example, if you posed a scenario were you had state how much hospitality to give a wandering stranger, I think you would find that the Kurds would profess to more “moral” where as the Americans would come off as more selfish.

That is just a guess though. I have only ever met one Kurd in my life and he got busted for drug dealing.

England has lost more then they will ever know…

Sometimes the good old US starts to seem like an awfully nice place live. Take this story from the The Sentinel (a U.K paper) (h/t Brussels’s Journal)…

Four heroin addict prisoners received thousands of pounds in compensation last year after being forced to go cold turkey. Two inmates at Stafford Prison, one at Sudbury Open Prison and one at Dovegate, near Uttoxeter, were each paid £3,807.

What happens if an alcoholic gets thrown into prison? Can they sue if they don’t get a beer?

You have to feel sorry for the police officers who are working in that kind of environment. Especially as they seem to be understaffed.

Songs of Community

I know, I know, I owe a post on one of the three subjects that I said I wanted to blog about. And I will have a post on The Economist article on demographics up today or tomorrow (per Mr. Vistesen’s request I decided to do that one first). But Andrew Cusack linked to three u-tube clips that I want to link to on my own site with my own commentary.

Normally I post videos over at The Ethereal Voice. But one of the u-tube clips that Cussack posted has direct relevance to a post I recently wrote on Quebec’s demographics and they are all loosely tied together so I thought I would share them here as well as at the Voice.

This is a clip of the song ‘Dégénération’, by Mes Aïeux (in Québécois French, with English subtitles). According to Cusack this song is wildly popular in Quebec right now. Its relevance to my recent post on Quebec should be obvious and hopefully I don’t need to elaborate on the song for those that have read my post. But one thing I would like to note is the continued references to government jobs in the song. This is no accident. The Government commands an extremely large percentage of GDP in Quebec and it is about the only place to get “good jobs” in Quebec these days.

This next clip is ‘Roots’, by Show of Hands (an English Folk group). It is an angry lament over Britain’s lost culture. The song obviously has something in common with ‘Dégénération’ and musically I actually enjoyed it more. But the primary reason that I am posting this is that I found it interesting how similar the complaint was in these two songs written by people in two different cultures. There seems to be a common despair in the face of modern culture.

It is common for people to dismiss the sentiments expressed in these songs as misguided longing for a golden age that never was. I disagree.

There never was such a thing as a golden age. That I will admit. But modern culture has lost something in the transition to the modern era. We have more material things, but we are losing our social fabric.

I don’t see how anyone can deny that people are not as rooted in their communities as they once were. In fact, the very concept of a community is disappearing. To be a modern person is to be a rootless person. You are not tied to your brothers, cousins, or neighbors. You are free, but you are also rootless.

For some, like the blogger over at Free Exchange, this is a price worth paying. But for others, like Mes Aieux and Show of Hands, this is something to be lamented.

Needless to say, I have more sympathy for the likes of Mes Aieux and Show of Hands then I do for Free Exchange’s view point. But like all things human, a longing for community and the struggle to maintain it can be an ugly thing. That is what Cusack’s clip of the ‘De La Rey’, by Bok van Blerk (in Afrikaans, with English subtitles) reminds me of.

Now this song skillfully plays on the sadness of what happened to the Boer woman and children and the braveness of the Boer fighters. Yet I can’t help but remember all the peoples that that the Boers destroyed and all the African villages that the Boers burnt to the ground. And I think that it is fitting that such great devotees of the Old Testament as the Boers should receive an Old Testament punishment for their crimes (and eye for an eye…).

For me, the Boers are a prime example of how a people can deify their sense of community. The Boers had this conception of themselves as a holy people chosen by God which meant that they saw no difference between their desires as a community and the desires of God. For them, the two were one and the same. Like the deification of anything else human, this lead to horrible things. There is no restraint on a society that considers its desires the desires of God.

The Boers are not alone in that failing, and I don’t mean to single them out. It is just that the song ‘De La Rey’ calls to my mind the dangers of venerating your own community and the messianic desires that often accompany that veneration.

But in remembering this danger, we should not forget that man cannot live by bread alone. A society based solely on economic transactions will soon cease to exist. The question is: what is the proper way to fill this human need for community without creating some kind of pagan nationalistic god?

Things of interest from Michael Yon

If you don’t have your head in the sand, you know that there is a big offensive underway in Iraq. One of the first reporters on scene is Michael Yon and you can find his first report here. Not much info so far, but I would keep an eye on his site if you are interested in the details of this offensive as it unfolds.

Also, check out this story by Michael Yon. Not because of how it relates to the war, but because of the portrait he gives of a modern Bedouin.

Photo Blogs

There is a certain artistic quality about photo blogs which I aspire to create myself, sometime. With the written word the presentation doesn’t seem to matter quite as much. But with a photo blog the size and presentation of the photo greatly impacts ones enjoyment.
I want to create a photo blog like this. The design […]

What's Russia's real problem?

Gazprom has asked the Russia government to cancel already issued contracts to sell gas to China. This from the BBC….

Russian energy giant Gazprom has asked the government to cancel an agreement to pipe large quantities of gas to China from fields in Siberia.

Alexander Ananenkov, the group’s deputy chief executive, said plans to deliver 80bn cubic metres of gas a year to China would leave Russia short.

Needless to say, these are not Gazprom contracts that Gazprom wants canceled. Exxon Mobile, Rosneft, and Videsh own the field that was to ship the gas to China. That makes me wonder about Gazprom supposed justification. If the contracts are torn up, it means that the gas has to be sold to Gazprom (because they are the ones that supply the domestic Russian market). So is Russia really running out of gas, or is Gazprom just making another power play to seize someone else’s assets?

I would go for the latter theory in a heartbeat accept for the fact that Rosneft is owned by the Russian government and Videsh is owned by India(who is generally considered an important Russian ally, though one wonders if this still holds true). So Gazprom’s proposal is going to make India and China mad as well as hurt a company owned by the Russian government. That seems like a lot of trouble to cause for the production of just one gas field.

Maybe Russia really is running short on gas.