Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Eager for closure, newspaper editorials and magazines present us the viewpoints of the new millennium's first decade as snap shots of past events. Though past events are only the grounds we set for what is to come.

The local host of G-20, Pittsburgh, showed a quasi-paranoid sense of security by bringing in police forces from several major US cities. The fears of the local government are easy to explain: events as G-20 meetings are known to attract protesters the small, uneventful Pittsburgh might not be able to handle. But all's well that ends well, the event itself was quite eventless and concluded as planned: with a few more business opportunities at the local level and the re-election of the mayor. The unexpected consequence of the heavy display of police force: victimless crimes?. Since the police force was brought from several cities, it seems that it became hard if not impossible to identify witnesses and at times even the victims of the protesters arrested during the summit, thus it becomes impossible to prosecute them for any alleged crimes. Hmm, and who thought there are such perks when you bring the military in ?

Now, I am not a determined G-20 protester myself and I was definitely glad to see all ended well *, but I also dig the reason beyond the explanation offered by one of my friends who participated to the protests: "When this boat I'm in starts tilting over one side and starts sinking, I automatically move over (on the other side). A normal reaction in my opinion, especially since the Copenhagen summit on climate also ended as expected – that is with no results. And you need not be the protesting type, or the radical type for that reason, for there are many other ways to bring the boat into floating position: you can bring back the "milk lady's horse pulled carriage" by supporting slow foods, you can recycle , buy organic or fare trade. The way a free market works : each company needs to "control" its market by matching offer and demand. Obviously they are resourceful when it comes to shaping our wants and needs in order to match demand to their offer, but we too can become resourceful in forcing them to adjust supply to our wants if we learn how to shape them according to our best interests as consumers. I also dig into Gary Hirshberg's statement about the partnership between Group Danone and Stonyfield and the small steps that count: each new niche market conquered , each acre of land they take back from the meat factories and genetically engineered agriculture is a step forward. Corporate producers will play the game and catch on the new fads in the market: going organic or fast food does not matter to them as long as there is the proper demand for a decent profit margin. But it should matter to us, it shall also matter that while fads are fading, fashions always return and it is our life style we do control.

But do not let me bore you with marketing issues. Another story I followed in 2009 took a few unexpected turns, the events following the beating to death of a Mexican immigrant in Shenandoah (middle Pennsylvania). At first with a bitter taste, as the teens responsible for the beatings got out with a slap on their hand, after that with renewed hope as two of the teenagers involved and four police officers were indicted by the Federal government** Hate crimes are dreadful enough , but the extreme actions of radicals as part of our societies and lives is something we have to learn to forgive and to an extend accept as the ugly face of human behavior. The cover up by the local police and other "respectable" residents is the sign of a disease consuming not just the few crazy or dumb enough to be overtly extremists, a sign that the values leading these people and shaping their culture are corrupted. The sign that something is rotten and not just in Shenandoah. But also the sign that there is still justice and with justice there is still hope…

Herta Muller won the Nobel price. You know: the Romanian born German language author who became famous grace to her novels about the life under the communist regime. It was suggested this is another chapter of history we need closure for. Within me however there is this fear of circular histories, the mistakes we repeat, an irrational feeling keeping me alert and open - communism for me will never become just history. My earthwalking friend invited her readers to write about the way they spend the days and nights of 21 and 22 December 1989. Well, you know how I spend mine since my folks forbad me to leave the house. Contained by the illusory safety of the condo owned by my grandparents I held the memory of the protesting students stopped by the machine guns at Dalles amplified by the sound of remote fights I could not see or talk about. It took me years to realize the impact those imageless sounds had on me since we grew up used to contain ourselves within the illusory safety of our shelled lives by remaining blind and mute even if we could not stop hearing about yet another person punished for a mere dream of freedom or fairness or mere humanity. This is why I am telling you my dear friend: there is a life worse than our death.

As the post-election revolt in Iran, the constant movement of Turkish politics towards the west and the Lebanon elections results (the pro-western coalition won) counter the unrest in Iraq and Afghanistan in the struggle to achieve a certain balance in the Middle East. I shall stress that this struggle is a local struggle and does not have anything to do with other "well intended people or states" to bring peace to the world by means of war. But what am I babbling about? Certainly , you do read the news…

*I took an egoist stance on the event and thought about the economic perks of the event , I do have a decent amount of student loans to pay back after finishing this MBA program next year.

** news story here:

1 comment:

Julie said...

Hi, Ana. You have given me much to think about here. How horrible that people would beat another human being to death for not being one of "their own." But then to have the police cover it up is outrageous. I had not heard about this case, and it is heartbreaking. I just don't understand evil, and I doubt I ever will. But I am glad something is being done now. I hope justice will be served. Unfortunately, it won't bring the loved one back for the grieving family.

As for marketing, you do not bore me at all. I enjoy your perspectives. There's a lot I need to learn. These words are so true:

"...but we too can become resourceful in forcing them to adjust supply to our wants if we learn how to shape them according to our best interests as consumers."

I also found your observations on Communism very powerful. Those of us who have never lived it can read about it, but we really have no clue. I hope we never find out.

Please excuse my slowness in responding. I am traveling for Christmas and won't be around for a bit. But I will return to read more as soon as I can. I hope you have a great break and some time to relax after finals. Best wishes for the new year.