jump to navigation

Happy Planet Index June 16, 2012

Posted by dtenjo in Society.
Tags:
1 comment so far

I read this week in the news that Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Colombia are the three happiest countries on earth. I always wondered how this could be possible, especially about Vietnam and Colombia, countries with well documented social, political and economic issues. I mean, fine, people can be happy on those countries, but what about all the efforts that along history mankind has made to generate well-being and development? Some countries have done very well at generating development as we know it, so does having countries that evidently still have issues to resolve reflect higher levels of  “happiness” mean that all the efforts in generating development and wellbeing have been futile because they are not really generating happiness in people?

I looked into the Happy Planet Index, and realized that this index is calculated based on three measures with are Experienced Well-being, Life Expectancy, and Ecological Footprint. Experienced well-being is obtained based on surveying populations of each country regarding how they think their life is going. Then, the HPI is calculated by multiplying the Expected Well-being by the Life Expectancy, and dividing that by the ecological footprint.

I then took a look at the results of this year’s HPI results, and realized that in the case of Colombia, there are counties with much higher results under the experienced well-being category, and obviously there are many that have a higher life expectancy. So, the reason why Colombia ranks so high up on the HPI index is mostly because of the low ecological footprint. This is great to know that Colombia has a low ecological footprint, but remember that part of this might be due to low economic development of the country, and hardly a low ecological footprint of a country has a direct relationship with people’s happiness.

In addition, the Experienced Well-being index is based on polls, and gets the results from what the majority of the population thinks, and let’s remember that in countries where there are human rights issues, and parts of the population are disadvantaged, it is the minority of the population who suffers this.

So, while it is great to read that Colombia ranks high in the HPI, it is important to take it with a grain of salt. News saying that the country constantly ranks high among the “Happiest Countries on Earth” might be somewhat deceiving. This is just the “Happy Planet Index” and does not necessarily mean that because a country ranks high on this, their people in general are happy.

Another Event that Proves how Society in the US is Going in the Wrong Direction April 16, 2007

Posted by dtenjo in Politics, Society.
add a comment

About six hours after the shooting at Virginia Tech happened, the death toll keeps rising, -it is at about 31 right now, and I am still trying to understand the relevance of this event, which seems to be by far the worst of its class in US history. This day will go down in history as the day when the most people were killed in a US educational institution. The worst part of this is that we are actually hoping it is this way, and we won’t see an even deadlier school shooting in a few weeks.

The question that comes to mind right away is why these things seem to happen only, or at least most frequently in America? Not even Iraq or Afghanistan, which appear to be currently the most troublesome countries right now, get shootings of this kind. I mean, a few months ago in Montreal something similar happened, but keep in mind that Canadian society in spite of the differences with the US, is in many ways similar to the way US society runs.

This is a proof that there definitely is something wrong with US society. And I know I am not inventing an new concept here with this statement, most people agree with the fact that the values under which US society is run are wrong, or at least mishandled by individuals. Seems to me like throughout history Americans focused so much on building what to them would be “the greatest nation in the world”, that they ended up inculcating the wrong values on their people in order to achieve this. And in so many ways they actually achieved both creating a “great” nation, and running a society with mistaken values, and this seems to be what is currently degrading the nation from the inside out I’ve always thought that while America is trying to solve the problems all around the world, going to countries oversees, invading, and trying to control other nations, their own society is getting corrupted on the core, and the American government has overlooked this.

I am talking about things like materialism, individualism, permanent competition to “step” on others if necessary to achieve what you need, the lack of community sense, and many other ideas that people in the newer generations were educated under, which I don’t consider are necessarily all bad, but they become bad when people misinterpret, and mishandle them like Americans in general have.

I hope not to offend anybody with what I just wrote. I have many American friends, and in general they are great people. I still consider that USA is a great nation in many ways, but there are so many other aspects that need to be reconsidered about the way the nation is run. It is clear that social values need to be revisited especially in a country where school shootings seem to be more and more common all the time.

Just brainstorming on a solution to Drug trafficking October 12, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Colombia, Politics, Society.
4 comments

I was reading an article on a Colombian newspaper about solutions to drug trafficking so that the South American nation stops loosing so much money, lives, and land to the fight against drug trafficking. There is a growing number of people who believe that making drug trafficking legal is a way to stop this problem (lowering prices, making the business not so profitable, etc). Now, there are others (including myself) who just think this wouldn’t be right. I just can’t imagine a world in which you will see people consuming heroine or cocaine on the streets normally like if they were smoking a cigarette, or having a pop soda. Plus, this would send an intrinsic message that doing drugs is OK, while everybody knows that it is not ok, drugs affect humans both physically and psychologically. This in turn affects society.

I was thinking about this, when and idea came to my mind. What about making buying and selling drugs legal, but consuming them illegal? This would be opposite to what the law is in many countries right now, where the illegal part of drugs is buying and selling them, but consuming drugs is not illegal. Think about it. Making drug trading legal would stop the hiper-profitable business, as anyone would be able to sell them. However, poeple wouldn’t be allowed to consume them, at least not in public. They could even make it illegal to be under the influence of drugs on the street, no matter where you actually consumed them, that way making it “not ok” to do drugs.

This is just my idea. I thought it is a good idea during the two minutes that I analyzed it. I wonder how crazy it is, or how much it would work. Who knows…..? but it is pretty interesting. In any case, if it is a good idea, I don’t think I am the first one to think about this. Any comments?

The Absurdness of War August 10, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics, Society.
add a comment

The more I read and look into the current Middle East war, the more I think Israel is not right in what it is doing. I still claim not to know enough about the history of what is going on there, but every time I read something new about the current war, I lean towards the Lebanese side more and more. The reason? Seems to me like Israel is using too much brute force, more than it is necessary. They are killing way more civilians on Lebanese territory than Hezbollah has on Israeli land, and now, the whole thing is starting to look more like an Israeli invasion than anything else. Last I read was that Israeli ground troops are already 30 km inside on Lebanese territory…. If this is not an invasion, then what is it?

A friend of mine pointed this VIDEO out for me, which I find really interesting…

I am not going to say that everything George Galloway claims on this video has to be right, as he seems overly passionate and biased, but maybe there is some truth to what he is saying…

I also heard that Israel might look into the exchange of prisoners to stop the war… The question is: if they end up exchanging prisoners, and stop the current violence, what is going to happen to all the damage done? Who is going to bring back the innocent lives lost? How is Lebanon going to be rebuilt? Is anyone ever going to take responsibility on all that happened in this preposterous war?

Why are all those steel bars displayed there? August 8, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Life in general, Politics, Society.
2 comments

9/11 Events: So hard to explain, even harder to understand

speace_tower_chapel.jpgI went to the International Peace garden, at the border between the US and Canada, between the province of Manitoba and the state of North Dakota. It is a natural park that has a big botanical garden “devoted to world peace”. The main attraction in the garden are four 120 foot pillars of solid concrete symbolizing people gathering together from the four corners of the world, which stand right on the line that separates the US and Canada the border.

Another one of the things to see in the garden is the 9/11 memorial, which consists of several steel girders that belonged to the actual twin towers of the World Trade Center. To us, those who lived through that horrific day those fallen pieces of steel and concrete represent too much, and bring back feelings of sadness, rage, perhaps frustration for not being able to understand such events. As I walked through them, I couldn’t help but feel sad, and internalize the importance of such event that shifted the course of human history.

To us, those in this generation who lived through that day, and saw almost instantly on TV the images, it will be looked as an event that stopped a period of relative calm and peace in the world, to start a series of wars that today, 5 years later still are inexplicable, have brought no results, created more questions than answers, and have killed thousands of innocent people.

As I was reflecting on that, something happened that called my attention. A girl who was about 6 years old was standing in front of the girders, and asking her dad “Daddy, what happened there?” Such a simple question, which is so hard to answer. The girl obviously didn’t know what happened on September 11, 2001. She probably hadn’t been born yet. However, the events of that day changed the world that she is to live in. Her dad made an attempt at explaining what had happened by saying “Some planes crashed into two huge buildings, and killed many people“. Nice and simple, and perhaps the best way to explain it to a child who does not understand the meaning of global politics, power, poverty, imperialism, religious ideologies, or terrorism. It was such a simple answer to something that perhaps nobody in the world can explain. This made me wonder how future generations will explain this event, as in reality it really changed the way the world is to develop in the post 9/11 era.

Someday I will have to explain to my children what happened that day. It will be hard to explain all that, mainly as I doubt that I will ever fully understand what the heck happened that day.

Israel throughout history: Martyrs, or Agressors? July 25, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics, Society.
add a comment

I was just thinking today that it is evident that Israel has had problems with all their neighbors, namely Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon… When you are the one that is in problems with everybody else, you can only wonder if you are the one who has problems.

With this I don’t want to imply anything about Israel, as I really don’t think I can understand much of the situation there, and even at times I tend to take part with them, but from looking at the facts, and the territorial problems seen with all of Israel’s neighbors, I was thinking that Israel is either a nation that has suffered the harshest injustices to keep their land, or they are an aggressor who always want to take what belongs to somebody else.

I know the situation is more complicated than that, and you can’t just easily decide what belongs to whom, because in reality, the location of this territory makes it the land that many ethnic and religious groups claim, Christians included. You can only hope that in some way, all parts involved will find a way to “share” the land, and forget past aggressions. I know it is hard, but hoping for this is all the majority of humans can do right now.

Crashed July 14, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Movies, Society.
add a comment

crashed.jpg

From the time of the Oscar awards, when the movie “Crash” started making some noise I had wanted to see it, but for some reason I just hadn’t been able to do it.

And yesterday I finally saw it. What a movie. It created a big impact on me. Crash shows reality as it is, with all the crudeness that it requires, It represents society’s behavior in any American city, it shows violence, racism, hatred, injustice…. the worst part is: This is exactly what is going on in our society today.

To me Crash is like a wake up call for its audience to realize the way things are, no matter what position in society you hold, this movie shows how things work, a reality seen by many, no matter whether you’ve been touched by it or not. (The fact is, chances are you have been touched by this reality).

Crash also demonstrates how hatred, resentment, and lack of tolerance are ruining our society. It is telling us “here, this is the world that we have, now, where are we going to end up if we continue in this way????”

I am not an expert in writing movie reviews, and I am not going to pretend to do it here, but I really liked this movie. As a movie, I found a big similarity to “Amores Perros“, that famous Mexican movie from 2001. I consider Crash was a great movie. It depressed me, I felt it. It put my feet on earth, it rang a bell showing me that in this world things are not the way we sometimes think, reminding me that we better start spreading love, otherwise we will destroy ourselves.

Why? July 5, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in News and politics, Politics, Society.
add a comment

It is still hard for me to understand why North Korea has decided to remain isolated from the international community over the years ever since the Stalinist government is in power. Everyone wonders how things work over there, and whether their people leave freely, and whether they at leas leave under the most basic living conditions.

Now, North Korea’s government has decided to fire a whole bunch of missiles for a reason that is incomprehensible for the rest of the world, although many believe to know the reason, which, according to what they speculate, is to provoke the US, and display power to show that they are stronger than many think.

Well, to me all this is inconceivable. How is it that in the 21st century, after all the damage that was done to the earth and the creatures that inhabit it in the previous century,  there are still countries who want to build weapons that can create even more damage, and show them off. Haven’t they realized peace is the only way in which we will still be able to have a world for the future generations? Has our level of distrust for each other as humans has become so big that we need to create and show off bigger and more destructive weapons all the time to make others respect us?

I plainly don’t understand any of this. I wonder why North Korea has decided to remain isolated, ignoring the invitations of other countries to join them in talks. I wonder why instead of creating ways that will bring them closer to the rest of the world they decided to get more distant with actions like today’s.  I also wonder what is in the minds of governments and groups that still make them believe war is the way to go. Is it because they don’t like peace? Do they feel safer in war than in peace? –I don’t. My mind hasn’t reached the level of reasoning to find reasons, and all I can ask is: Why?

D. 

Forget about Gas Prices, it is the Earth we should worry about June 23, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Environmentalism, News and politics, Politics, Society.
add a comment

It is interesting how people have massively been showing concern about Gas Prices. Considering that Gas prices are mostly driven by Economic forces, there is little us, or the government can do about its price going up. Perhaps they should cut some of the taxes they put on fuel, but really taxes also act as a way to control the use of Gas, and prevent its waste. So, in that extent I am not vary much against high taxation for Gas.

We should not worry so much about the price issue. More than anything everyone should be concerned with how efficiently we are using this fuel that drives our lives, and how much damage we are causing to the environment by irresponsibly driving our car everyday, and unconsciously using non renewable energy that with better habits can easily be saved.

It was very surprising to fiund out that in California and Florida GM plan to offer subsidized gas prices to people that buy big SUV’s like HUMMERS, or SUBURBANS, or ESCALADES, etc… This is UNBELIEVABLE. No wonder GM has been doing so badly lately in business, and this looks to be a selfish desperate move. How in this world would you want to provide incentives for people to use big fat trucks that all they do is damage the environment in which we live? How would it be fare that a person that spends several thousand dollars just to look big in a vehicle that takes twice as much room in the street that we all drive on, pollutes our air, and uses the fuel that other people are trying to save, get gas rebates? It should actually be the other way around, and they should be making SUV owners pay more than others.

In the end we should really forget about Gas prices and how much money we would save by using a fuel efficient car, or not using one whenever we can. It is the earth that is at stake here. If we don’t start finding alternative ways of transportation, our air will get polluted until we can’t breathe anymore, and the precious fuel that is valuable to many other indispensable uses will run out.

D.

“freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression” June 20, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Canada, News and politics, Politics, Society.
2 comments

gay.jpg

I was very surprised when I found out what happened yesterday at Ryerson, a Canadian University in the province of Ontario. It turns out that a person who was receiving an honorary degree, was shown signs of disrespect from other professors, and people in general. While Margeret Sommerville was receiving her degree, inside of the auditorium some professors turned their backs and held protest banners on stage, while in the stands and outside, other people showed all sorts of signs of protest.

The reason?.. It turns out that Dr. Somerville, has some views on the negative effects that same-sex marriage would bring to society. Does it make any sense that gay rights supporters, those who fight for freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and diversity in society are disrespecting a person in this way? To me this shows a double morale, in which they want rights for some people, but they fail to recognize the rights of others.

They say Dr. Sommerville is a homophobic, failing to recognize that the fact that someone points out the negative effects of same-sex marriage on society, and specifically on the children, does not make a person a homophobic. Homophobic people, as those who fail to accept gay people and discriminate them, should not be tolerated; however, people who find negative views on some of the concessions that gay supporters are demanding, should be listened and respected.

In a society that feels proud of its diversity and its freedom, all persons should be able to express their views on matters that affect everyone, as long as these views don't attack anyone's integrity, and are expressed in a respectful way. Just like gay supporters should be respected in their views, those who point out some potential negative effects on some of the gay issues, should also be respected at all times. Gay people have many rights, and so do all the other people in society. No signs of disrespect should be tolerated on someone's views, especially in the Canadian society.
If we want a society the has solid grounds, debate should be welcome. Otherwise society will be partitioned, conflict will be generated, and the values that govern society will never be clear. The Canadian charter of rights and freedoms regards the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression as a fundamental freedom. A ceremony where a person is recognized for her academic achievements should not be sabbotaged, as this act of disrespect attacks the fundamental freedom in question.

D.