Post 8

We listened to a lot of insightful guest lecturers in this course, but the two that stood out to me the most were Sherry Mariea and Joe Erb.

Sherry Mariea’s lecture stood out to me because gender inequality is an issue I feel strongly about. She said that she never considered herself a feminist even though she advocates for a world of gender equality, and I have always felt the same way. Like her, I have been excluded from conversations about ‘masculine’ topics that I wish I could have been a part of. I think that it is important to learn about different topics, and I don’t think that others should assume that a female enjoying sports is a sign she’s questioning her sexuality or gender identity. Although I may have a similar mindset as many feminists, I choose not to identify as one. This is because the term ‘feminist’ implies many ideologies and if I come across one I don’t agree with, I don’t want to have to pretend to agree with it to keep my identity as a feminist.

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I am entering a field dominated by men(actuarial science) and I hope that I am lucky enough to work in a firm where my gender will not determine how I am treated. In the beginning of my career it may determine my salary and my relationships with clients and colleagues, but like Mariea, I hope that I don’t live in a world like that for the rest of my life.

Joe Erb’s lecture also stood out to me because I believe that culture preservation is important. There are many people in the world who feel helpless to preserve their languages and cultures. in the new technological era of our world. Major web pages are available primarily in languages spoken by hundreds of millions of people, and these languages dominate the international business world. Because of this, parents are feeling more and more pressured to teach their children these languages so they can thrive in this new era. Joe Erb showed that it is possible to preserve a language without living in the past. He is the reason that the Cherokee language is available on Apple devices and is compatible with other technologies. I think this is inspirational because if other dying cultures were to have advocates as strong as him, maybe we wouldn’t live in a world dominated solely by Chinese, Japanese, and major European languages.

Before I began blogging about Afghanistan, I didn’t have much of an idea of what goes on there. I knew that it’s constantly used as a war ground and that the US is constantly sending troops over there, but that was all I knew. My research taught me about how climate change is effecting Afghans, not just tropical and polar regions. This helped bring the issue of climate change to my attention. I began to realize that it’s a real issue that is affecting the entire planet, and soon we will all begin to see the consequences. My research also showed me how corrupt governments can be. Many past and present Afghan political leaders have been unfair to their citizens, and there is no one to hold them accountable. This inspired me to look into advocating for a better global law enforcement system. I am realizing that in an increasingly globalized world, we can only remain peaceful if everyone is held accountable for their actions. This means that either the United Nations needs to gain more authority and law enforcement power, or a new system needs to be created. The current United Nation’s purpose is to prevent World War 3, but maybe it isn’t enough anymore.

Post #7

Because of the chaos and lack of government regulation in much of the Middle East, a large amount of human trafficking takes place in the region. In Pakistan and Iran, most modern slaves are used as domestic servants. They cook, clean, and perform other household duties for their owners, much like pre-1865 American slaves. In Afghanistan, however, some slaves serve a much different purpose. They are used to fulfill others’ sexual desires, and are sometimes forced into marriage. Others are used for drug smuggling purposes. Regardless of what work the slaves are doing, it is often dangerous and inhumane.
Sometimes, Afghan families even choose to sell their children into slavery in hopes of escaping poverty. These are the worst cases because if your family is not fighting for your freedom, it’s likely that no one is. In other cases, families will smuggle their boys into Greece in hopes for a better life, but they instead end up being used for labor or sexual entertainment. No matter what kind of slavery a person is forced into or how long they remained enslaved, it can have lifelong traumatic effects on a person. For example, many sex slaves end up with injuries and incurable STDs such as AIDs and herpes. Others end up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may cause paranoia and hallucinations. Slavery is by far one of the most inhumane things a person can be forced into, and there need to be more movements to bring attention to the issue and work on a solution, as well as counseling for all victims. The following video shows just one of the traumatic events experienced by Afghan slaves.

It is estimated that slavery is a bigger problem now than it was a few hundred years ago, during the time of the transatlantic slave trade. It is estimated that close to 30 million people are enslaved today, which is approximately the population(slaves and non slaves) of the United States at the time the slaves were freed. To try to put an end to this issue, the United Nations put together a list of goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Two of these goals are to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” and to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. Employment and decent work refers to paid and humane work, and does not include slavery. The phrases ‘access to justice for all’ and ‘inclusive institutions’ also imply an end to slavery. However, we can only hope that these goals are one day fulfilled. They were formed years ago, but were put on standby so humanitarians and government officials could instead tend to other issues such as the AIDs crisis and the Ebola outbreak. There is no definite reason to believe that another issue won’t soon take priority over ending slavery. Aside from other crises in Africa, there are other reasons slavery will be hard to fight. Human trafficking brings an estimated $32-$150 billion into the African economy every year, and there is no telling what economic crisis could be born from losing that money. Also, it will be hard to get support from potential donors or volunteers. People contributing to social issues like to see distinct numbers that show progress. Unfortunately, because of the lack of discrete numeric data concerning slavery, exact progress will be almost impossible to deliver.
The only way slavery can truly be ended today is if people are willing to be truly selfless. Victims of human trafficking need people willing to gather accurate data of their identities and people willing to have their owners imprisoned. Only time will tell if there are enough of these selfless people to truly make a difference.

Post #5

Every planet in our solar system has a range of temperatures it generally reaches, and eight of them (Pluto will always be a planet to me) have climates that have remained relatively unchanged since the beginning of time. There is one planet, however, that has a climate that is beginning to grow warmer. This is the planet Earth—the one that virtually every living being calls home. It is also the planet that was placed in the exact position to have the climate needed for us to all thrive. We all have different ideas of how the Earth got here, but it is a universally accepted fact that it was placed exactly where it needs to be. This begs the question, what happens when we mess with the climate?

On the surface, we can see the problems that are arising. People are needing to be relocated due to flooding, plant and animal species are going extinct, and cultures are being lost. We often think that these losses for a few people come as the price for a more industrialized world for the rest of us, but we fail to realize that these people’s rights are being taken from them. As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we all have the right to be welcomed and have a place to call home. We have the right to live without fear of the wellbeing of our descendants, yet so many people aren’t able to.

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Aside from countries situated right at sea level, Afghanistan is one of the countries that is considered most vulnerable to climate change. It may not be submerged in melted glacier water anytime soon, but they lack the resources necessary to react to any changes. The people have grown accustomed to the weather in the nation, and most of them simply cannot afford to cool their houses or artificially produce the temperatures needed for their agricultural activity. On top of this, water is becoming more of a scarcity in Afghanistan. The people are doing their best to conserve water and get more water to flow through the mountains, but droughts are still an issue. This threatens their rights to live comfortably without fear.

The fact that we live in a Eurocentric world does no justice for the recognition of Afghan’s human rights. How could they be expected to thrive in a world where Muslims are seen as terrorists more often than as humans and only the wealthy rise to world power? Middle Easterners are too often looked at suspiciously and as criminals by people in Europe and the Americas. They are more likely than white people to be ‘randomly selected’ for extensive body searches, and this is often humiliating and degrading to them.

While there is still much work to be done, steps are being taken towards a more equal world. Faris Noor explained that the rise of other nations is soon going to deplete the world domination of Europe and the United States. This is a very good thing, because domination often results in a feeling that you are better than everyone and lack of respect for other cultures. This has been seen over and over in our world. People have been enslaved by people who had power and dominance. There have been mass murders by people who wanted to show they have power. The sooner we can realize that we are all humans and all deserve our rights, the sooner we will be able to come together as a community and all do our part to prevent the climate from changing too much and to make sure everyone is given the resources they need to survive comfortably.

Post #3

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Everything in moderation’ regarding the simple pleasures in life such as coffee. Maybe you enjoy a cup or two every day as a quick energy booster, but what happens when you drink an entire pot in one sitting? Chances are, your heart rate will reach a dangerous level and you’ll have some trouble keeping still. Likewise, nationalism is a good thing in moderation, but too much can be dangerous.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines nationalism as “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” It’s good to be loyal and devoted to your nation. But issues often arise when you take this idea a step further, and begin to disregard everyone who is not a part of your nation. The belief that your own nation is the only one that matters often leads to xenophobia and selfish foreign policies. According to Zakaria, too much love for a single nation could lead to the deterioration of globalization. Globalization began because people believed that other nations had ideas and goods that could be beneficial to everyone. Ethnic food and music can be found all over the world, and many people learn languages of different cultures to be able to communicate with more people. When people become too ethnocentric, they begin to cut themselves off from the rest of the world. Evidence of this is being seen in America today – President Donald Trump is advocating to end trade with foreign nations and is attempting to keep foreigners out.

Fortunately, excessive nationalism is not an issue in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, even a healthy amount of nationalism is virtually nonexistent in the nation. Different tribes and ethnic minority groups may have have pride in their subcultures, but it’s hard to take immense pride in a nation full of corruption, poverty, and political instability. In fact, the majority of the Middle East is lacking in pride of their nations. Terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Taliban, and Al Qaeda are headquartered in the Middle East, causing fear, conflict, and multitudes of refugees. No one would flee from a nation they’re proud to be a part of, yet millions of Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian refugees are scattered throughout other nations. Another reason many Middle Easterners do not take pride in their nation is because they tend to think of land in a Western manner as opposed to having a personal relationship with it like some tribal groups do. Check out this PDF to learn more about the environmentally spiritual mindset most Middle Easterners lack.

Inequality can be seen all over in the Middle East. Inequality of genders, inequality of the upper vs lower class, and inequality between religions are all prominent. This inequality could be a large part of why the region is struggling politically and socially. Studies have proven again and again that inequality creates social problems within the less privileged groups. This is because the more privileged people have better access to education, health care, and opportunities such as music lessons that give them an overwhelming advantage over everyone else. Wealthier individuals also have more opportunities to explore other parts of the world and embrace other cultures. Zakaria and Steger both mentioned that this form of globalization can be beneficial to an individual and set them apart from their peers.

In the Muslim community, which makes up much of the Middle East(And almost all of Afghanistan) men are dominant over women. This inequality can make women feel oppressed and worthless. The Qaran states “Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four” and “and the men are a degree above them [women]“. This religious inequality is so widely accepted in Islam that the majority of Muslims don’t even think of themselves as a group of inequality. They believe that this plain discrimination is an acknowledgement of differences, not supremacy. This may be true to an extend, but historically ‘separate but equal’ really just means ‘separate.’ Pre 1960s America is a prime example of this.

Here is a video of a Muslim man explaining his perception of why people of different genders are treated differently.

He truly believes that his argument is solid, but it is a bit flawed. Dr. Naik explains that Allah states that men are more powerful, and he knows best, so giving men more power is really not making them unequal to women. The problem with this claim is that it is based solely on the teachings of Allah, and therefore will not be satisfactory to anyone who is not Muslim.

Post #2

Afghanistan is a multicultural nation. As a result, about thirty languages are spoken and two of them are considered official languages. The first official language is called Dari(also known as Afghan Persian) and is spoken by approximately half of Afghans. It is used for all government and business related purposes, is considered the lingua franca of the country, and is typically taught in schools. Until the mid 20th century, Dari was the only official language of Afghanistan.
In the 20th century, Pashto became the second official language of Afghanistan. The Pashtuns were a group who mainly resided in Afghanistan. Many moved to Pakistan after World War II, but they still are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. In 1933, Mohammed Zahir Shah became king of Afghanistan. He decided that because about a third of Afghans speak Pashto, it should also be considered an official language. A larger percentage of Pashto speakers are literate than Dari speakers, so Pashto is often used to record stories and other literature.
This photo shows script in the Dari alphabet, which similar to the Pashto alphabet. As you can see, Afghans do not use an alphabet similar to the English one.

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Most Afghans who do not speak one of the official languages speak a Turkish language. Because there are so many languages spoken in the nation, many people are bilingual. It is helpful for all Afghans to know at least one of the official languages, but nomadic groups and some ethnic groups have been able to form their own communities with their own languages.
Afghanistan is involved in global organizations, and is often a recipient of aid from them. One example is the United Nations. Afghanistan became a member of the UN in 1946, just a year after the organization was formed. The United Nations has a program known as United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which was created in 2002 to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. Whether or not this aid is being put to good use or not is up for debate. The following video gives an idea of how foreign money may be used in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is also a member of the International Monetary Fund as of 1955. The IMF has given millions of dollars to support Afghanistan, and is helping returning refugees. Many Afghan refugees were forced out of Pakistan last year, and do not have adequate resources to live a healthy life in Afghanistan. The IMF is lending Afghanistan $45 million with very low interest to aid refugees. The World Trade Organization allowed Afghanistan to join in 2016. Many nations were reluctant to allow this because they believe that Afghanistan cannot offer much, but there has not been adequate time to prove or disprove this.
The Gini coefficient of Afghanistan is 27.8 (on a scale of 0-100), which implies there is not too much inequality. Aside from the wealth possessed by corrupt government officials, there is not much of a gap between the richest and poorest Afghans. Almost no Afghan commoners have the resources to live a comfortable life, but according to the Italian statistician Corrado Gini, this is not necessarily bad news. His theory is that it is not the counties with the least wealth that are prone to social problems, but countries with the most unequally distributed resources. This implies that if a few Afghans were to become very wealthy, rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and violence would increase among the poor.
Much work needs to be done in Afghanistan before it can be a truly independent nation. The UN, WTO, and IMF may have to change their approach on providing aid and government corruption needs to end. But if Afghanistan has one thing working in its favor, it is the lack of extreme wealth inequality among commoners.

To learn more about current affairs and politics, check out this Afghan news paper.

http://afghanistantimes.af

Post #1

Afghanistan is a nation full of fear and uncertainty. Government officials, United States troops, Afghan citizens, and terrorist organizations are all anxious about what the present and future of Afghanistan holds. It is widely known that terrorist organizations headquartered in the Middle East such as ISIS, Taliban, and Al Queda are a global threat, and that the US military has had troops stationed in Afghanistan for over a decade in a desperate attempt to control these groups. Former United States President Barack Obama always made it a priority to support the Middle East both financially and militarily. As of January 20th 2017, the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, no one can predict the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. President Trump has mentioned that he intends to keep troops stationed in Afghanistan for the time being. He has also been known to make degrading comments regarding Middle Easterners, suggesting that their well being is not a priority to him.

You may think that because the Middle East is full of highly demanded resources such as oil and fruit, they should be wealthy and have a stable economy. In theory, this should be true. In fact, Afghanistan does have a relatively large gross national income- about $60 billion. The issue is not the amount of money in the country, but the way it is distributed. The following video gives some examples of the corruption that is destroying the Afghan economy and putting the aid of the United States and other nations to waste.

Only a portion of the government corruption in Afghanistan is related to money. The Vice President and his bodyguards are currently being investigated in a sexual abuse case. Earlier this month, man by the name of Ahmed Kahn Ishchi claimed that Vice President Dostum forced him to strip before being beaten and threatened at gunpoint by nine bodyguards. The ten men were asked three times to appear before the Attorney General, but are not cooperating. This is the type of scandal that could cause a nation to quickly lose trust in their government. Unfortunately, occurrences such as this are not uncommon in the nation.

In 2016, more journalists were assaulted and killed in Afghanistan than in any other year in recent history. Around 50% of the attacks were at the hands of the Afghan government, which may be evidence that there is something they don’t want to be made public. In the modern world, which is full of social unrest and various protests, a government can only succeed if it has support from its citizens. The most reasonable motivation for a government to become violent and murderous would be to hide larger scale corruption.

The Middle East has a history of being at war for reasons unrelated to the government, which hurts the economy arguably just as much as government corruption. The region has a very large population of Muslims, including a few Islamic extremist groups. Extremist groups formed from even the most theoretically loving religions such as Christianity and Islam can be dangerous. Muslim extremists believe that the best way to spread their religion is by killing those who don’t accept it. This ideology has led to numerous terrorist attacks such as the 9/11/01 attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in the United States, and beheadings of several Americans ISIS took captive.

Even the terrorist acts not directly carried out by Afghans still produced negative consequences for the nation. They caused troops of other nations to be heavily stationed in Afghanistan, causing a tense environment for citizens. These attacks have also made Middle Eastern refugees unwelcome and widely discriminated against in any country they may try to seek a new life. Some Americans are currently fighting to allow refugees into the nation, but the nation as a whole would have to abandon it’s historically discriminatory views for this to be possible.