Guns in the US – Can the problems be solved?


Mk.19_Assault_RifleThe gun debate in the US is now really reaching a hiatus with legislation being accelerated following the tragic situation at Newtown where so many were killed This followed the other tragedies which seem to now occur with increasing frequency. New York state have today enacted severe gun control laws – the first state to do so since the incident.

The debates are passionately argued on both sides. The recent altercation between Piers Morgan and Alex Jones (chairman of the American gun owners Association – 300,000 members) on CNN recently demonstrated the strength of feeling of the gun lobby.

It would appear that there was  an implied ‘call to arms ‘by Mr Jones should any anti-gun legislation be implemented and action. -a sort of gun owners Jihad – a war of independence waged by them as a result. In practice, quite what he meant by this is uncertain , however what is certain is that there is a strong belief almost akin to a religious dogma that the ownership of guns is a fundamental human right. This will inevitably cause conflict as the restrictions are imposed, especially when gun confiscation becomes a reality.

Whether it is a human right or not is questionable, however what is unquestionable is that it is a constitutional right defined by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution – the right to bear arms – and there lies the problem.

Most of the rest of the world look on quizzically at this belief system and the sort of responses that emanate when gun ownership is challenged are at best perceived as  some sort of psychotic madness. However, until the constitution of the US is changed in this regard, there will always be difficulties in changing cultural perceptions within the country.

In most democratic countries, a constitutional change can only take place as a result of some sort of referendum and this may certainly be the only way forward if controls are to be implemented in a democratic and effective way. However, as gun culture is such a fundamental part of the US psyche, will this really be possible in practice? Certainly the correct interpretation of the constitution is needed as a minimum. Do the words ‘well armed militia’ in the existing constitution mean an ‘unregulated armed populace’, which seems now to be the case.

It will be interesting to see how reality develops over the short term, however, what is certain is that maintaining a constitution which enshrines the right to bear arms has a cost,- in blood.

But maybe the people of the US believe that this is a price worth paying? If this is the case, so be it. The world outside does not have a right to get involved, but they do have a right to be dismayed and disappointed should it take another civil massacre to bring the issue to the table again.

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Views on Israel in 1938 by Mahatma Gandhi


Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and spiritual leader of India. Location unknown. Français : Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), Guide politique et spirituel de l’Inde. Lieu inconnu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Jews In Palestine

By Mahatma Gandhi

Published in the Harijan   26-11-1938.

Several letters have been received by me, asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I  came to learn much of their age long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close.

Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews. But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice.

The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine.

Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood? Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongsto the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home. The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French.

If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews. But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For, he is propounding a new           religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which any inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter.

The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is,therefore, outside my horizon or province.

But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a nation, which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one, which is the declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and all it means?

Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism.It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it looks in its nakedness.Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Mussalmans or the Hindus, though as a matter of fact, in essence, He is common to all and one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews           attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless.

If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this I should not wait for! the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end the rest were bound to follow my example…. …

And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it in the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart.

The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart… They will find the world opinion in their favor in their religious aspiration.There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home, including Palestine, not by aggression but by loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilization by Cecil Roth. It gives a record of what the Jews have done to enrich the world’s literature, art, music, drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jew can refuse to be treated as the outcast of the West, to be despised or patronized. He can command the attention and respect of the world by being the chosen creation of God, instead of sinking to the brute who is forsaken by God. They can add  to their many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.

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International Corruption Perceptions Index 2011


source : Transparency International

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The cost of corruption in developing countries


Corruption is estimated to increase the cost of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation by US $48 billion   Source: Transparency International, MDG Report 2010

 

CORRUPTION HITS THE POOR HARDEST

Poor families in Mexico spend an estimated one-fifth of their income on petty bribes: Bribery in public services cost the economy 32 billion pesos (US$ 2.6 billion) in 2010.
Source: TI Mexico, Communicado de Prensa (2011)
In Bangladesh, 84% of the households of Bangladesh who had interacted with one or more of different public and private service sectors or institutions have been victims of corruption in 2010. 33% of these people experienced corruption in healthcare services.
Source: TI Bangladesh, ‘Corruption in the Services Sectors: National Household Survey 2010’ (December 2010) 
Findings from a seven-country study in Africa — Ghana, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda — showed that 44 per cent of the parents surveyed had paid illegal fees for schools that were legally free for their children.
Source: Transparency International: Africa Education Watch 

AID AND BUDGET MISUSE

Due to corruption in Indonesia, it is estimated that nearly one-fifth of the rice distributed for an anti-povertyprogramme disappeared.
Source: Journal of Public Economics, ‘Corruption and the costs of redistribution: Micro evidence from Indonesia’, 90 (4-5) p. 853 – 870.
87 per cent of funds allocated for non-wage school costs in Uganda never reach the intended schools
Source: World Bank
In South Africa, 27 per cent of principals never receive their budgets on time. In Cameroon half of state primary schools have problems with their buildings: only 19 per cent of schools have working toilets, and barely 30 per cent have enough tables and benches for student
Source: Transparency International: TISDA 

FOREIGN INVESTMENT DISCOURAGED

Countries that score badly on the World Bank’s Doing Business Indicators also score badly on the Corruption Perceptions Index, including Chad, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all ranking in the bottom 15 countries on both tables.  This suggests that highly corrupt countries also have difficulty attracting business.
Source: Inferred from comparing Doing Business Index, World Bank Group, (2010), against Corruption Perceptions Index, TI (2010)
Based on a survey of 214 executives, 28 per cent opted not to do business in a country due to bribery and corruption issues.
Source: KPMG, ‘Global Anti-Bribery and Corruption Survey 2011’
In a survey of more than 350 businesses worldwide, 35% of companies had been deterred from an otherwise attractive investment because of the host country’s reputation for corruption.
Source: Control Risks, Facing up to Corruption: A practical business guide, (2007)

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Leadership Hubris – an acquired personality disorder.


Definition:  Extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality, disregard for others and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities.

In the UK, we have recently witnessed the proceedings of the Leveson enquiry, which is investigating the links between politicians and the media barons at the highest level. The demonstration of extreme forms of hubris during the proceedings is quite alarming. We have seen conflicting stories, lies and accusations of perjury aimed at the highest levels of politics and industry. The true colour of the personalities involved seems to be being exposed and there is certainly more to come as the truth unfolds in this unfortunate scenario.

Unfortunately, as each layer of the onion is peeled away, more and more revelations seem to emerge and the true character of people who were originally considered to be world-class business and political leaders is being exposed.

The level of hubris being revealed doing this enquiry is quite astounding. Accusations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, perjury, lack of integrity, corruption, pervade the whole proceedings.

Although the enquiry is still ongoing, and has not reached a conclusion, it is quite clear that the inquiry chair is being lied to on oath. It is not clear at the present time who is telling the truth and who is fabricating stories to suit their own ends. The intrigue continues.

So how did these people, who were previously regarding as models of excellence in their field, arrive at this position?

This scenario is not untypical. We only have to look at the global events which are unfolding day after day in many countries across the world. From war to oppression to economic chaos, all caused by a failure of leadership.

So why is this? The old saying that power corrupts is not sufficient to explain the extent of the problems which are being experienced.

Some researchers are now turning to medicine to explain the phenomenon and some believe that power is a driver in an acquired personality disorder. There is a belief that extreme hubristic behaviour is a syndrome constituting a cluster of features (symptoms) evoked by a specific trigger (power). Hubris syndrome is seen as an acquired disorder which makes it different from other personality disorders which are traditionally seen as being persistent through adulthood. Hubris syndrome appears to be a transient disorder, and usually subsides when power disappears.

Medical research on this continues and will have significant impact on leadership selection and development for the future as indicators are identified which would predict the level of predisposition of individuals to acquiring this syndrome.

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Obsessive passion disorder – destroys successful career progress


By Elisabeth Grace Saunders

Your passion for your career can sabotage your attempts to succeed.

When you go from feeling energized, excited and in control of your work to feeling an overwhelming compulsion to achieve and produce, you’ve tipped from helpful harmonious passion into harmful obsessive passion

But when you’ve grown accustomed to operating from a state of obsessive passion, you may want to act differently, but you just don’t know how. Your deeply ingrained mental and behavioral patterns naturally lead you toward seemingly uncontrollable compulsion to work. Paradoxically, these natural reflexes inhibit the quality of your professional output. And when you do make small attempts to change, like leaving the office on time, you experience withdrawal symptoms, which send you scurrying back to your familiar habit patterns.

Fortunately, there is hope. You can rediscover a life of harmonious passion by intentionally changing your behavior and by replacing harmful thought patterns with helpful ones. To help you with this process, I’ve disclosed the thoughts I most commonly see coursing through people’s minds when they feel stuck in a state of obsessive passion and offered suggestions on how to modify them.

Flawed Evaluation of Worth

Harmful

Helpful

I am important and of value because of what I achieve, produce or have. Therefore if I stop achieving, producing or having, my life no longer has value, meaning or purpose. I am of value because of who I am, not what I do. I am a unique individual whose life has a special purpose regardless of what I earn, accomplish or own.
Perfect is the only option. Less than perfect is failure. Perfection is an ideal abstraction created by my mind that can not exist in the reality of an imperfect physical world. I can choose to adapt my evaluation methods so that less-than-perfect is still seen as a success.
I am only as good as my last result. If I stop or rest or don’t perform to the same or better level in the future, I will lose everything. Every life experience offers an opportunity for growth. Each day, I can do my best, correct my mistakes, and learn for the next time I meet a similar challenge. My past provides a secure foundation for my future.

Sense of Over-Responsibility

Harmful

Helpful

If everything doesn’t go according to plan and make everyone happy, it’s my fault. I should have planned more, done more, been more. Activities rarely go exactly according to plan and often times, no possible scenario could make everyone happy. I take responsibility for the areas within my control but release responsibility for those outside of my control, including unforeseen circumstances and others’ emotional responses.
I can only rest without guilt once all the work is done. If I stop any sooner, I am lazy, selfish and irresponsible. There will always be more work to do. By choosing to rest at reasonable intervals, I increase my productivity, accomplish more, enjoy life and stop feeling resentful toward others who take breaks.
My needs are the lowest priority. I will only get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and do activities I enjoy once everyone else has their needs — and most of their wants — met. It’s good for me to be considerate of others’ needs, but I also have a legitimate need for proper self-care. When I take time to nurture my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, I have a greater capacity to truly connect with and support others.

Insecurity in Relationships

Harmful

Helpful

Everyone is watching and evaluating me. If I don’t appear to meet their standards for outward success, they will think badly of me. I can choose to not allow my perception of other people’s opinions of me dictate my opinion of myself. I am free to live as I please and make the choices that are right for me.
I’m bad at forming and maintaining relationships. I can never make my friends and family happy so why should I try to have a life outside of work? It may not be easy for me at first, but I can learn how to form and maintain better relationships. I may not always meet everyone’s expectations, but I have a better chance of success when I make a good effort.
I feel in control at work because certain actions predictably produce specific results. It’s too much of a risk to venture into areas where I don’t always know what to do, and I can’t count on other people’s response to my actions. I can choose to stay in a place of security and isolation, or I can choose to open my life up to others. I may experience some loss of control, but ultimately I create the possibility of great joy in true relationship with others.

If you think you might have fallen into the trap of obsessive passion, go through this list and ask yourself: Do I agree with any of the harmful thought patterns?

If the answer is “yes,” you can incorporate more helpful thought patterns into your life through these types of activities:

  • Writing down your thoughts in a journal and then revising your harmful thoughts into helpful ones.
  • Keeping a list of helpful thoughts.
  • Meditating on the helpful thoughts by repeating them aloud (or silently)

If you have been able to free yourself to achieve without becoming relentlessly driven, let us know how you succeeded in the comments. Have you noticed a difference in yourself or your work when you operated from a state of harmonious versus obsessive passion?

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How managerial psychopaths use emotions to manipulate others


Published on November 29, 2010 by Key Sun, Ph.D. in The Justice and Responsibility League

A persistent myth about psychopaths involves the belief that they are callous, emotional void criminals (particularly serial killers). The mass media (e.g., television shows, films, and books) often reinforces this inaccurate image. For example, a recent ABC program, “Secrets of Your Mind,” presented a story of an incarcerated terrifying serial killer/psychopath who was diagnosed as having brain abnormalities in regulating his emotions.

Two facts contradict the false belief. First, a number (possibly most) of psychopaths are found in managerial or power positions rather than in prison/jail .From the perspective of evolutionary biology, psychopaths flourish in society because most of them actually have the skill to avoid prison. Both criminal and managerial psychopaths are detrimental to others’ well beings. However, unlike the violent criminals who rely on physical aggression to maintain their control over individuals, managerial psychopaths are inclined to employ verbal brutality,deception and emotional abuse and ploys to ruin people’s lives.econd, psychopaths do not lack emotions. Emotions can be divided into self-serving and pro-other ones. Although they lack pro-other or social emotions, they have plenty of self-serving and/or maladaptive emotions. Psychopaths in power positions are good at harming and controlling others in part because they know how to use emotions to manipulate others at the expense of others’ well beings.

Research and observations show that managerial psychopaths possess many self-serving and/or maladaptive emotions, such as: Arrogance, grandiosity, pleasure, anger, rage, hostility, contempt, overweening, envy, jealousy, greed, suspiciousness, impatience, and irritability. Because of their superficial charm, people often misperceive their impulsivity and unscrupulousness as being courageous and determined, and mistake their self-inflation and self-admiration as signs of self confidence.

On the other hand, research and observations also reveal that psychopaths are severely deficient in pro-other emotions, such as: Love, compassion, gratefulness, peacefulness, pleasantness, sympathy, guilt, remorse, empathy, and general moral emotions (e.g., shame, anxiety, and fear). Certainly, they pretend to mimic the emotions, but theirs are very shallow and artificial.

One question remains to be answered: Why do emotionally intelligent, nice people often become the victims of the psychopaths, who have abusive tempers and exhibit glibness, irresponsibility, and deception with an excessive need for control and interference corresponding to their sense of incompetency? In my observations, this is because managerial psychopaths use emotions, including your emotions, to advance their interests.

Let me use a midlevel manager as an example. He used three typical tricks to defeat his victims:

First, he constantly told lies to another as long as it helped maintain his control over the person. The victim, who attempted to communicate with the manager always met frustrations because the boss always denied what he did or justified his actions by saying “What’s wrong with it?”

Second, although the manager had no guilty feelings, he managed to make his abused victim feel inadequate by repeating “It is Ok” (right after his violent emotional outburst against the person who disagreed with him). Basically, he made the victim feel that the victim’s normal emotional reaction to the abuse was overreacting. As the result, the victim felt guilty.

Third, he was good at using another’s empathy. Although anger was his primary temper for controlling others, he was excelled in shifting his emotional expressions from extreme angry to extreme sadness, automatically or voluntarily. Suddenly, he appeared to be a helpless and sad person, needing immediately to be babied by others, arousing his victims’ empathy right away (This shift is part of his performance, different from the emotional instability as observed in borderline personality disorders).

How to deal with them? I agree with Martha Stout’s suggestion that the best method to deal with psychopaths is to detach from them or the situations in which they operate.

However, I do not share the consensus that there is neither a cure nor any effective treatment for psychopathy, which has a strong genetic component. I think that the late British psychologist Hans Eysenck’s research on conditionability and conscience sheds a light on psychopathy (even though he has not examined psychopathy per se). Eysenck contended that people who are impulsive, lack (or have not learned) the sense of guilt or conscience have low conditionability, which was influenced by the process of classical conditioning, particularly during childhood. Although the limbic system regulates the effectiveness of classical conditioning, more frequent and intensive conditioning processes can improve the innate low conditionability.

In short, psychopaths represent a much more complicated category than the offenders portrayed in the media. They thrive not because they lack emotions in general, but because they use emotions (in addition to other tricks) to control others.

 

 

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