Women and young people, the cornerstones of a new era

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Let’s all join together in the women and student protests of next 8 and 15 March -because equality concerns everybody without exception.

Women and young people will raise their voices, both in the street and in the cyberspace, to support the essential and urgent changes that must take place before we reach a point of no return.

At last, we’ll become “We, the peoples”, as we are referred to at the beginning of the Charter of the United Nations! In 1945 it was too soon because mankind still lived under the absolute male power and the vast majority of individuals were born, lived and died within a few square kilometres. They were fearful, obedient, submissive, silent human beings.

Today -thanks to a great extent to the digital technology- there are many human beings who can freely express themselves, who are aware of what is happening and, above all, women -who were marginalized for centuries- are about to play within a few years the essential role they deserve to play on an equal footing.

Humanity is facing for the first time in history potentially irreversible processes and this is why specially vigorous and tough measures must be taken to prevent the quality of our intergenerational legacy from deteriorating -something that would represent a historic mistake.

Unfortunately many individuals remain impassive spectators instead of being involved, committed actors. Mass media -many of which speak with the “master’s voice”- are, according to a brilliant expression from Soledad Gallego, very powerful weapons of “mass distraction”.

Scientific, academic, artistic and literary communities -in short, Intellectuals- should be aware of the seriousness of the current situation and trends, and should take the lead of popular reaction. But the bureaucratic-cybernetic maze that goes along with the neoliberal drift and the governance of its plutocratic groups (G7, G8, G20) has prevented up to now -there have been recently some upturns that can be of interest in that respect- the implementation of specific measures that were the cause in 2015 for great hope for those really aware of the nature of global threats posed by a world placed in the hands of irresponsible leaders. In fact, the Resolution of 21 October 2015 from UN General Assembly, where the 2030 Agenda is established together with 17 Sustainable Development Goals, is entitled “Transforming our World”. And Paris Agreements on Climate Change  were signed immediately afterwards in the firm belief that, if we bear in mind our descendants, we will understand how urgent it is to take action without delay.

The nomination of United States President Donald Trump, unexpected in so many respects, should have had an immediate response when he said he would not fulfil the commitments made by his predecessor. The European Union, a strictly monetary organization, didn’t have the ability nor the strength it should have shown at that time. On the contrary, following the instructions of the USA magnate, the G7 decided unanimously to increase funds devoted to defence (4,000 million dollars were already invested in military expenses and armament while thousands of people were dying every day from hunger and extreme poverty, most of them boys and girls ranging from one to five years old).

A new concept of security is urgently needed that will take into consideration not only the territories, but also food, health, education, environmental care... of people living within those territories.

“Two thirds of mankind have mobile communication”, as advertised in the International Mobile Congress that has just been hold in Barcelona. How wonderful! This can be the end of the governance of plutocratic groups and the beginning of a reinforced democratic multilateralism, with United Nations on par with the competencies it should assume immediately at a global scale.

Let’s join our voices to the voice of women and young people who in the next days will take the first steps to allow us to enter a new era in the best way possible.

On March 1st 2016 I wrote the following: “Your voice, / women around the world, / is the mighty force / that will move / what has until now been immovable. / A silent and unheard / voice / since the dawn / of time. / Today light is shed / on the roads / we’ll walk / together, / joining our voices / joining our hands / at the dawn / of a new era”.

Yes: let’s join our hands and voices!

When the vessel is sinking

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

suddenly -said Leonardo Da Vinci- there are no poor and rich, no young and old, no white and black on board... only a bunch of passengers toiling, working together to survive, to avoid a shipwreck.

This is the advice we should convey today through all media so that the “peoples” become aware of the situation humanity is facing for the first time in history. In recent years a series of global threats have been recognized as potentially irreversible processes that need to be confronted and dealt with on time before it is too late.

The climate change has become an undeniable truth. The Arctic Ocean has nearly disappeared and the Antarctic is starting to crack. We have not succeeded in our effort to reduce the emissions of “greenhouse” gases... and the habitability of Earth is experiencing a consistent deterioration. The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) -wisely established by the United Nations Assembly in October 2015 “to transform our world”- has not been carried out because it is not efficiently supported by big countries... and citizens are under the pressure of the gigantic media power that makes them confused and turns them into impassive spectators instead of responsible actors.

Neoliberalism -stubbornly lead by the United States Republican Party- has weakened the nation-State and has replaced the democratic multilateralism of United Nations by the governance of a few plutocratic oligarchic groups (G6, G7, G8, G20) responsible for the current drift that has placed GDP and international trade in the forefront... together with President Trump’s discretionary power which no one dares to confront.

The most disturbing consequence is the way supremacism, racism, fanaticism, dogmatism are sprouting everywhere... without anyone seeming to recall what happened in 1933 and 1939... The vast majority of citizens are stunned and obsessed supporters of football teams, and are only worried with their immediate past and their present life; their demands -which are mainly based on the mistakes made by those who have ruled on one side and another- would be reasonable in less pressing situations, but they do not realize that today young and future generations are the only ones who deserve our attention if we want to keep the world afloat and bequeath these generations a dignified life.

Despite the fact that there is reason to dream with and fight for new ways of governance, that we are about to conquer at last what always seemed an impossible quest, the only true thing is that the time has come to join our hands and voices, instead of breaking up; the time has come for an efficient multilateralism with a planetary scale authority; the time for genuine democracy... Because otherwise devastation will be the irremediable consequence.

The time has come for mass media to convey accurate information about the Earth’s sustainability and to alert the world, and to keep away from ill-meaning commercial and political news that urge them to do the opposite.

The time has come for major financial corporations to become aware that it is their historical responsibility, in no-return situations, to promote and encourage awareness instead of favouring confusion and overacting.

For peoples -”We, the peoples”, as we were so wisely referred to at the beginning of the Charter of the United Nations- to take control, now that we are aware of what is going on and we can freely express ourselves, now that we have become men and women, of our common destiny.

The vessel is sinking because we have not paid attention to any of the recommendations made during the last decades. As in Leonardo’s tale, it is now essential and urgent for all of us to react, because we are all concerned, and otherwise we will not succeed in our intent of keeping safe in all its fullness the mystery of human existence. “Everything is still possible… but who will do it if not all of us?” said Miquel Martí i Pol.

I am quoting once again, because reading them was a crucial experience for me, the lines of José Ángel Valente’s poem “On the present time”:
“I am writing from a wrecked vessel,
I am writing about the latitude of pain,
about everything we have destroyed
above all within ourselves...
I am writing in the midst of the night,
in the midst of the roar of the hungry and the dead.
with the perspective of a hand that becomes a gloomy fist
...with the eyes of infinitely dead children,
...with the pain of a tree with wounded roots...
But I also write in the midst of life,
with its powerful cry
...with the voice of the suffering crowd...
I am writing, my brother, about a time to come”.

Let’s find inspiration in Leonardo Da Vinci, Miquel Martí i Pol and José Ángel Valente, and let’s abandon all hostile attitudes against an adequate and peaceful navigation. In the new age what will prevail will not be the power of force but rather the power of reason, not weapons but words, not herd instinct but the capacity of each human being to create, to think and to take his own decisions.

If we manage to keep the ship afloat, with all passengers, humanity will have the opportunity to usher in a new era.

The revival of Philosophy

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

We must first learn to be.

I’ve very recently learned with great satisfaction that  all parliamentary groups have, at last, submitted a request to the Spanish Government in order for Philosophy to be given again the status it deserves within the educational curriculum.

More than a century ago Francisco Giner de los Rios brilliantly defined “education” as the ability to “master one’s own life”, as the ability to behave according to one’s own personal reflections rather than according to the dictates of somebody else. The capacity of thinking and creating. If people are “educated” to this end, the world will enter a new era. Individuals will be trained to be and to revolt. If we continue to favour “competitiveness and gregarisation”, current imbalances, sympathies and phobias, mass emotions, blind obstinacy and fanaticism will become even greater, because individuals will be trained to have and to be submissive. 

This splendid definition makes me think of Julian Marias who, in his work entitled “Reflection on a book of my own”, and 24 years after having completed it, explained the personal reasons that led him to go more deeply into philosophy, and for that purpose he quoted some verses by Goethe that Ortega y Gasset liked to repeat very often: “I must confess that I am of the lineage of those/ who seek to move from darkness to light”. In the epilogue of this book, Ortega y Gasset argued that the everlasting aim of philosophy should be to “find out”. There is indeed no better way to define the essence of philosophy than with the permanent desire to find out -which according to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language means the following: “Searching for truth until we find it”.

In Article 1 of UNESCO’s Constitution the aim of the educational process is defined with great accuracy as follows: helping to train “free and responsible” individuals. Free individuals because, once released from all bonds and burdens, they will be able to move in the endless space of spirit. They will be free and, therefore, able to take action based on their own reflections, without any dogmatic bond. And they will be responsible because they shall not only take into account their own rights but also their duties towards “others”, whether they are close or distant people, peers or members of future generations... 

Education goes beyond training, beyond the acquisition of professional skills; it goes beyond knowledge and information (especially beyond news released by the media, because news is by its own nature focused on unusual, uncommon, extraordinary facts). 

Therefore, philosophy and arts are essential parts of this “core” education, beyond the mere transfer of techniques and methods that should always be taught “in addition to” and not “instead of”. José Saramago already warned us when he wrote: “Will we end having 100 technology and 0 thought?”

I remember that Juan Rof used to say -I heard him speak many times in the Human Sciences Institute- that “individual autonomy” is a prerequisite if you want to be “fully and unconditionally free”, without any constraint that may hinder our human endeavour, by virtue of the magistral formula of reflection and introspection... Individual autonomy can be obtained thanks to Philosophy which, according to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, “is the body of knowledge that seeks to establish -in a rational way- the general principles governing both our knowledge of reality and the meaning of human behaviour”.

There is no doubt: the transition from mere subjects to full citizens requires more Philosophy and more arts. Philosophy is a must if we want to be “free and responsible”, to fully exercise the unique capacities of human beings: thinking, imagining, foreseeing, innovating, creating! As recently stated by UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, Philosophy is the only discipline that will allow us “to transform human societies”, to implement all the radical changes that the current worldwide situation urgently needs. Today it is essential and most urgent to promote Philosophy in all levels of education.  “Philosophy creates the intellectual conditions required by change, sustainable development and peace”, as highlighted by the Director-General who called upon all Member States “to take up this message, which resounds in the heart of UNESCO’s mandate”.

The unique capacity of human beings is creativity, the biological excess represented by the capacity to invent, to create. To enable freedom of action -which is the supreme gift of humanity- it is essential to awaken and develop in children this enormous potential which is exclusively found in human beings.

Apart from the freedom of expression, we need to have the capacity to express ourselves, to find the right words to accurately convey our own reflections. Words only exist if they are pronounced.  This is an essential task of any education which seeks to liberate human beings:  teach us how to think and how to duly express ourselves. This is a corner stone, an unparalleled lesson that will be useful during our whole life.

Finally, a consensus concerning the unquestionable prominence of Philosophy has been reached. This can be an excellent point of departure to further improve the educational process as a whole -which needs today to get much better.