Tag Archives: Integrity

Core Values

via Daily Prompt: Core

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Are there any angels in Politics? Gandhi, but so few others. No one is perfect, as the saying goes, and perception is probably 9/10 of the problem.

There are a number of political biographies that I read in my teens and twenties, and which have haunted me ever since. Martin Luther King Jnr., Sukarno, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandella, Steve Biko, And Patrice Lumumba (photo above). My blood still boils at the injustices they have suffered.

It was the early 1960s, African nationalist movements were in full swing, independence was coming. The Cold War was the context, and African minerals were the agenda, especially uranium, and the West would do anything to preserve their access. If you then place a leader who is a strong nationalist in power and who then pursues independence and who rails against the old colonial powers, you have the risk of losing those minerals. What to do? Kill that leader of course. But first make sure that his country, and then the world, see that leader as deeply flawed, incompetent, corrupt, a communist, an extremist, anti-western, and so on. Then shoot them.

Lumumba was a Pan-African, he wanted to see an interdependent cooperative Africa, and to be free of colonial control. He believed that african nations could be great nations under their own people. He was intensely critical of the colonial powers, in particular, Belgium, who had ruled his own country Congo and had a murky record in governance of Congo. He was for nonalignment – the stance of not choosing sides between the US and the Soviet Union. His main principle of governance was “National Unity.”

No sooner had independence been grudgingly and conditionally granted to Congo by Belgium, that Lumumba had won government with his party Mouvemnet National Congolais (MNC). But then a crisis developed over political direction and dependence on Belgium. Lumumba began to extract Congo from colonial trade and patterns, this caused anxiety in the US, UK, and Belgium, all who were worried that this young primeminister would turn to the Soviet Union for trade and support. The western nations are implicated in wanting to remove Lumumba, but none have been directly connected to the firing squad that murdered him.

Lumumba was deposed, arrested and imprisoned by the military, tortured and later shot. The man who was behind this was Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko (with western suport), who installed a government under his own control, and later in 1965, he overturned that government and became direct military ruler of the Congo until 1997. The only real winners in all of this were the western powers, notably, Congo has never thrived, it has given western nations its minerals at great cost to itself.

Patrice Lumumba had strong core vlaues, his was a selfless desire to lead Congo into a strong independent nation, he wanted his people to have access to health and education, he had hopes to provide modernization, and decolonialisation. He wanted Congo to benefit from its own natural wealth. He talked of an egalitarian community where everyone was valued. For this he was painted as a communist and as a dangerous leader. For these values he was murdered.

In his famous speech before independence, a speech highly criticized by western leaders, Lumumba said: “The colonialists care nothing for Africa for her own sake. They are attracted by African riches and their actions are guided by the desire to preserve their interests in Africa against the wishes of the African people. For the colonialists all means are good if they help them to possess these riches.”

How prophetic! He was absolutely right. He is still right.

Patrice Lumumba’s life ended in tragedy, but it wasn’t completely in vain. He inspired his people to seek the best for Congo. Many of his political ideals have been picked up across Africa, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his thinking has been embraced on a number of fronts.

For me, Lumumba’s story is a reminder that there is a cost for integrity in political leadership.  For Lumumba there was no other way, there would have been a cost for him personally had he caved in to Mobutu and the West. He was true to his vision and core values. He was far from perfect, but he died for his vision for the future of Congo, and that vision lives on.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Economics, history, Philosophy/Theology, politics, quote

That Cockburn Sleeve

via Daily Prompt: Sleeve

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Contrary to the nay-sayers of the 80s the vinyl LP has hung around. My Bruce Cockburn album “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw” from 1979. The one that finally brought him to international attention, especially in the US. Cockburn, a Canadian, was quite popular in his native Canada, but until this album (don’t think I’ve used that term in a while) was only ever on the fringe elsewhere. The cover is a painting by Ojibwa artist Norval Morrisseau.

The cardboard outer was earlier called a record jacket, technically it was a protective sleeve that became an artform in itself in the late 60s. The plastic liner was an inner sleeve, an anti-scratch protection. Earlier eras used paper inners, even as jackets in some cases (especially on the old 78 rpm – a brown paper jacket).

Bruce Cockburn is a folk-rock artist (sometimes called the bearded mystic) who has been an activist for environmental and humanitarian issues through his writing and performing. He has been associated with Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, World Vision, Friends of the Earth and more. He has advocated for humanitarian aid in Mozambique, Iraq, Mali, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Honduras and more. He has toured to raise funds for humanitarian crisis relief, including being a leading spokesperson for the banning of landmines, and on the subject of third world debt. He stood with the Haida people of British Columbia in their land claim struggle, and has also raised money for aid for former child soldiers. Just a sample of his commitments. He once stated that his music asks something from the listener, it invites the listener to get involved in the causes, or he asks existential questions, a more general raising of awareness of issues and questioning the listener’s stance.

Cockburn came to my attention through a friend in 79, who urged me to have a listen to this guy who wrote amazing lyrics. I did and I was hooked. But I was hooked again by his personal beliefs, his political stance, his activism. For me he embodied the meaning of integrity and commitment. I aspire to that.

Cockburn is respected by his contemporaries and younger artists, and has worked with a number of rock and folk luminaries throughout his career. He has recorded over 300 songes and made 33 albums. However, Cockburn hasn’t aimed at fame, instead he has given back to his community, and indeed to the world through his writing and activism. I would say he has invested in people and the environment.

I’d like a few more Bruce Cockburn’s around, but then, we’re here!

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under environment, history, life, mindfulness, music, politics

Privilege

Privilege used to have a general meaning, that you had achieved a right by education, promotion, or sheer hard work. There was a clear pathway, others could see how you got there, and it generally revolved around integrity. But privilege was also connected to a process through community of some description. To be a leader meant that others knew you, knew you had integrity, knew you were for real. In education, especially tertiary, one must be constantly in dialogue and in research and writing, peer reviewed, and of those who worked hard it was that they had rubbed shoulders with many and got their hands dirty in the area or topic they were passionate about.

I’m not American, but I’m concerned that America has descended to privilege those not entitled to be. Take the case of the current president of the U.S. Donald Trump, a business celebrity who appears to be incapable of being a state-like leader. Of course there are a number of theories as to how he got elected:

  • Tough talk in a time of weak talk.
  • Promises to the disappearing middle-class.
  • Playing the race fear card.
  • Tough talk on defence.
  • Rhetoric: Make America Great Again
  • Crass talk: playing up the larikin male.
  • Religious manipulation: playing up to conservative Christians.
  • Not being Hilary: the backlash on privilege factor.
  • Voter participation was low.

And they’re just a few. I think tick all would apply. It says to me that, irrespective of who he is, Trump didn’t get there by hard work, education, or promotion. In my view, he has no integrity because he is clearly manipulative rather than consistent or open. Part of his getting there was his public persona, so he has traded on his celebrity status (if you’re thinking about Ronald Reagan, no matter your view of him, at least he got involved in state politics and worked at it).

Then comes the #Me Too campaign, an important step forward for victims of sexual abuse (and shameful for leaders, entertainers and others privileged by power). And up pops Oprah Winfrey. Now I quite like some of her interviews and some of her book recommendations, however, I really wonder if her Golden Globe moment (and I loved her speech) wasn’t with a view to self privilege, I have questioned if this was a deleiberate act (and maybe it was selfless). And I wonder that those Democrats who decried the nomination of Trump as shallow because he was a celebrity, are now being hyocritical by suggesting the nomination of Oprah to run for president.

My own view is that both Trump and Oprah are being privileged by status, power and money, neither are really political nor really connected to the real process of legislative leadership.

And it is my view that Trump and Oprah are constructs in the public mind, they are who the public want (need?) them to be, when more than likely, they are not anything like that nor capable of being like that (who is?). In the hands of poltical parties they are a product that can be marketed and thus consumed. My fave actor is Juliette Binoche, but while I love her work and some of her opinions, I wouldn’t want her to be president or prime minister simply based on my fascination for her as an actor. Same goes for the really wealthy, for example; Bill Gates, Warren Buffet. It leaves me thinking that celebrity is privileged not just by status and wealth, but also by liminance – that they evoke in us a warmth, a fondness, a feeling not unlike falling in love.

Privileging a leader is also about gain, those who privilege want to be privileged, a never ending sychophantic cycle.

So where is the integrity in leadership? And who will speak for those not privileged (including our friends – nature)? Who will set aside privilege in order to lead?

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under community, Philosophy/Theology, politics

Identity

Identity

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Identity is a matrix really, Am I really Jack White when I do air guitar? As I read Emund Hilary am I really there at the top of Everest?  Did i just get the chequered flag in the Moto GP? Sometimes I’m just in the shadow of life, sometimes I’m clutching onto a map for guidance, sometimes I’m just on the edge, sometimes I’m projecting someone else, sometimes I’m looking into the distance – and am in the distance, and sometimes I’m fooling around and having fun, it’s all in the mix.

When people talk about identity, I think of all sorts of angles, personality, character, experiences, vocation, passions, and also masks. The inner and outer me, who do I want you to see and know? I think of Janus too. We talk about “Showing up”, authenticity, being real. In the end, for me identity is a matrix, but at its core is the gold of integrity.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Superficial

via Daily Prompt: Superficial

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We enjoyed our breakfast, the staff were wonderful, attentive, good humoured, friendly. But every time I go out I wonder how much of this is put on, superficial behaviour, and how much is genuine (and I have met some genuine ones). After all, it is just a job. I well remember as a child of eleven, the insurance guy coming to visit and make sure we were “happy” with our payments etc. He had been attentive, friendly, supportive, as dad kept the premiums going even when we were struggling under a load of debt. But the moment dad wavered one year and looked to cut back, this guy, this “friend” turned ugly. As soon as dad relented and caved in to the higher payment, this guy was sweetness and light! I’ve had teachers, employers, clergy, politicians, even people I thought were friends (ha) who were this superficial too. To be superficial is to be fake, plastic, veneer, a user (and abuser), an empty shell.

For me the key word in life is integrity, if you don’t have it – then don’t come near, I don’t want your fake friendship, your fake values, or your pretend life, I want the real you, but most of all I want for you to be real. Integrity, not superficiality.

Paul,

#pvcann.com

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Integrity (beyond compartments)

Which bit of you do we see? Do you have compartments that you carefully show to the world in different contexts, to different groups? Sometimes we are merely slices of ourselves offered carefully for show. How many of us have the courage to be ourselves wherever we are and with whoever? I was struck by Courtenay Martin’s (Journalist and author, founder of Feministing, appeared at PopTech 2014, On Being 2014) comment that we need to “show up.” In other words we need to have the integrity to be ourselves, to be whole (though recognising that we’re incomplete, a work in progress). So that the world gets all of us, and not just a slice, and so that we don’t get caught in endless machinations to present a slice, a compartment of ourselves. There’s something healthy about being whole.

pvcann.com

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