Sunday, January 6, 2013

Many people of first world nations think about the third world as a series of slums/poorly coordinated nations directed by a bunch of dictators; the stereotypical representation of a banana republic... and I know, I know... generalisations are usually wrong but the idea with this post is to share my point of view of those lessons rich/developed nations should always take into consideration about small societies from the third world.

I have come a long way from Venezuela to be here but every time I try to compare the States, Australia and Venezuela I notice clear differences between its societies... as well as the dangers hidden in the state of the well being.

Trying to explain these points of similarities and hidden dangers I am going to use three short phrases to state the obvious (yet so many times forgotten in the past).

  • Nothing lasts forever - Anonymous
  • Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity - Albert Einstein
  • The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people - Martin Luther King Jr.

Three great phrases everybody has to remember every time they look up onto the depth of the sky, breathing fresh air (well... as fresh as you could get) enjoying every single bit instant of freedom.

Why? You may ask...

Well... let me take you through a small tale, introducing as I go along each of these phrases... How about if I tell you:

Once upon a time there was a young boy, sitting in front of a cliff facing the ocean, thinking to himself “How marvellous earth is... creating something as beautiful as this scenery where the waves crushes against the walls of the cliff, bursting with foam and sounds and colours! Marvellous indeed because I could take a seat every day and enjoy such a wonderful permanent painting in motion as it is!

Eventually the young boy grew up, he became a man with a family to maintain; moved to a bigger brighter place to be happy and work until one day... when he was old and grey decided to come back to his favourite place to contemplate this painting once more... but this time he couldn’t find the cliff in front of the ocean; instead a beautiful beach laid in front of his eyes and he couldn’t believe it.

Where did the small mountain go? Am I at the right place?” – He could definitely tell he was where the mountain used to be as it was located in front of his town; the very same between the valleys and neither the valleys nor the town had moved. At that moment he understood the waves were not just making sounds on each coming hitting the wall; it was eroding the rock little by little; imperceptibly until it disappeared completely into the white foam of the sea.

Don't fool yourself taking things for granted

Hence, “Nothing lasts forever” or as any old Venezuelan granny would say “nobody will suffer a sickness for hundred years... neither the sickness will be that strong nor the victim will endure it that long” but you could apply the same logic and reverse the direction, instead of something bad like a disease it could be: “well being won’t last forever

If you are an optimist this shocks you (although you might think is obvious at this point), like a cold bucket of water thrown at you while sleeping forcing you to wake up.

But why does it apply to me (that I live in the States, Canada, UK, Australia or whatever)?

Because of a bitch called entropy

A bloody attribute of our universe that states everything has certain level of chaos that can’t be taken away, only displaced to a different system in order to create a temporary state of order.

This is the chaos star (designed by Snoopydoo) the perfect symbol of chaos.
The symbol represents forces pushing outwards of a circle (not on this drawing) breaking the balance of things.

It means that if your country wants to be rich with well coordinated society and high standards of living it has to take all the unwanted things and dump it somewhere, as well as take the wealth out of somewhere else (lands, producers, markets... the money has to come from somewhere, right?).

(Sigh...) I wish that picture would be just that simple but no!... entropy tells you as well if you want to preserve that ordered state, you will need to constantly use energy to push that chaos away from your ordered system.

The Yin/Yang symbol represents the balance...
but in order to maintain it both parts needs to swim around each other.
(Drawn by Chinese Ranger)

Well... first world nations achieved (via hard work, war, battles and education) an ordered system where each citizen contributes to maintain the order by being polite with their neighbours, participating into political, economical, social and scientific aspects of it all; while those of the third world are struggling to gain that fine balance needed to succeed as a rich and developed nation. Look at it as every citizen is an agent of order or chaos, if you do your part the order is maintained but if you don’t, little by little, just like the waves crushing against the walls of that cliff, the energy used to maintain the system ceases to circulate, the system starts its slow degrade to its natural state of chaos, collapsing eventually the system.

But if people know this, they surely will keep doing their good work, right? 

Prosperity makes people go blind... blinded by the illusion of well-being maintained over several generations until... one generation that doesn’t really remember the what or why of several rules and dropping it as “everything works as it should so why bother?”

There is when I remember the second phrase by Albert Einstein - two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.
Albert, you said it perfectly after you realised how humans used your discovery of the formula of energy to build bombs.

And true it is! Humans are a silly stupid race; instead of studying "why the weather is more extreme each year?" or "how can we all live better?" we sit down to discuss who is right and how's wrong? Is it really getting hotter or colder? What’s the secret agenda behind everything everybody does?

Instead of helping each other (as collaboration has been proved to be more effective than individual work) we sit down with pointing fingers, blaming whoever committed a mistake. 

Instead of forcing ourselves into consider the implications of our acts we prefer to ignore certain situations and relay in others to solve any problem; to which my mind praises the third and last phrase of this post, wrote by Mr Martin Luther King Jr. - the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

And what of this ramble is related to Venezuela and how can we all learn about it?

Venezuela is a nation of wealth and natural beauty to such extent that it holds one third of world oil reserve with massive amounts of minerals (iron, copper, gold, titanium, etc) yet most people tend to forget their duties and responsibilities (such as voting in national elections or actively pursuing the truth), hoping for a messiahs of some kind to come down from heaven to take them to paradise without any kind of effort or sacrifice.
Venezuela is a country so dependent of its wealth that has forgotten it won't last forever and it has decided (actively) any kind of investment on any other source of income such as its people.
It has become a nation where its politics seek a way to secure power and become richer and faster without thinking of future generations, feeding chaos into the destruction cycle of those systems created by previous delegations of countrymen.

Is difficult not to establish a comparison between the Venezuela I knew and the nowadays Australia (the so called Land of Plenty), when walking down the streets I overheard somebody criticising the government followed by a "but you know what? I don't care... we will be fine." or when you turn on the TV and listen to people trying to 'protect' as much as they can the carbon industry of Australia because their retirement depends on it instead of proposing new ways to generate wealth or develop this nation... I know, I know... is not as bad as the rampant corruption, street gangs, daily violence and number of death Venezuela suffers at this moment... but my parents didn't think the current situation of the country that was known as "the Switzerland of America".

Here comes the ultimate lesson to learn: all it takes is you to do nothing to contribute on the destruction of order. Do you take your part as an agent of chaos? Or do you try to maintain the order by teaching morale, ethics and the importance of good education to future generations?

Still think the voice of just one person doesn't make a difference? Take a look to the following video...

This man opposed the mark of tanks with just groceries on his hands.
This man stood in front of tanks regardless to everybody else's comment, hiding from the scary barrel of the tower of the tank.
This man became history because his will dictated his actions.

We might need to do less if we all chip in...
Think about it.