Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Ordinary Virtues

Canada lost a superior statesman when it rejected Michael Ignatifieff. Conservative tactics to demean Ignatieff were despicable.  I am pleased to know his intellect is not being wasted

Michael was in a discussion with Joel Rosenthal regarding celebrating the centennial of the Church Peace Union, a group that had been founded by Andrew Carnegie.  From their discussion came the idea for the Carnegie Centennial Project which essentially is a global study of ethics in action.  This book is the culmination of that effort.

The world has changed drastically.  Diversity is showing up in more and more global cities.  Each group feels an affinity for its own kind, but are forced to work, study etc with others.  There is a lot of self segregation. 

This book is focused on human rights and the ongoing struggle to boost them.  There is a battle on one side of which are poor institutions and human vices.  Opposing that are ordinary virtues.

So what are "ordinary virtues'?  Ignatieff designates tolerance, forgiveness, trust and resilience.  May be ordinary, but necessary if we are to survive as a planet.  In many places different people live side by side, but the ideal would be to live together.

Corruption, a most serious problem--police corruption--many accept corruption if they feel they get something in return.  An earlier blog  explores a little more deeply:

Michael and other members of the project travel to cities of interest around the world.  As they travel to different cities with their unique perspective Ignatieff ties their concerns to the ordinary virtues.

Jackson Heights in Queens, New York is one of the most diversified areas in the world- and close to the Carnegie Foundation.  side by side vs together  --policing is absolutely necessary for a moral economy of a global city--one concern is that NY police have infiltrated local mosques--on the other hand New York considers itself a sanctuary city along with Los Angeles and Portland that offers a municipal ID allowing all citizens to open bank accounts and make loans

Immigrants are often conned, but they need to learn to trust strangers.  The internet, tv and cell phones enable most newcomers to maintain ties with the old country.  Politicians court them but this often entails them becoming interwined with old world politics.

Los Angeles  was the scene of the Rodney King riot.  It uncovered tensions between whites and blacks,  but also Koreans felt discriminated against. They are slowly developing stronger ties between the races also including Mexicans and Central Americans.

Brazil was visited before the Olympics.  They spent time in the infamous favelas where poverty and corruption go hand in hand.  There were efforts to form consent based community police that were able to deal with drug dealers. Unfortunately Brazil seems enmeshed in corruption, but there are groups fighting the corruption.

Bosnia was part of the former Yugoslavia.  When the Iron Curtain broke down it opened a lot of hatreds.  Bosnians were mostly Muslim and surrounded by Serbians and Croatians.  neighbors turned on each other in ethnic conflict.  After peace declared and borders established there is a serious lack of trust.

Myanmar has been in the news regarding the Rohinga expulsion.  Igntieff spoke with some extremist Buddhists who wanted a pure country.  Aung Sun Suu Kyi, once admired around the world is now vilified for her lack of protest.  Ignatieff goes below the surface to point out that good ideas cannot be implemented with out institutional and individual support. She is inside a political situation that is unwilling to compromise.

Fundamentalists offer uncompromising answers to the existential question of national identify.  when democracy comes majority rule is integral and that often goes against the human rights of minority groups.

Fukushino had an unimaginable disaster, three catastrophic events compounding one another.--earthquake, nuclear plant meltdown and tsunami.  It tests people's trust  in institutions that failed to predict this possibility.  Ignatieff is encouraged by the resilience of the Japanese

South Africa-most blacks notice little change--blame white privilege and would like to see a redistribution of land--real problem is there are not enough jobs to go around.  Mandela knew Africa needed the whites to stay and help South Africa to grow and to gain their co-operation in a new South African constitution he needed to include their concerns.  The different black and Asian groups feel they have suffered enough.  In the news as I write this is a movement to redistribute land owned by whites to blacks.

There are many competing global perspectives, but Ignatieff feels we need to recognize those who want to dialogue.  We need to tolerate those who see things differently.  Judge people one at a time instead of as part of another group.

Ignatieff feels the ordinary virtues can thrive with support from institutions.  People have to be alert to the ever present danger of corruptions.  My feeling is he is advocating that a mutual support system is needed.  We, at all levels need to encourage the ordinary virtues which in turn will help maintain legitimate institutions that work for the benefit of everyone.  Ultimately for humans to survive we have to work together, not just side by side.

Jared Diamond wrote "The World Until Yesterday" that illustrates perspectives of primitive people that I believe demonstrate humans have always had similar problems.  You will find my take on it on the  bottom half of

He is a man with a truly global view that needs to be shared.  An earlier blog about Michael Ignatieff: 

No comments:

Post a Comment