Book Recommendation  — July 31, 2015
Lasting Change or Temporary Appeasement: Our Society and Culture — July 21, 2015

Lasting Change or Temporary Appeasement: Our Society and Culture

Today I came to a realization that investing in arenas that last and thrive for years to come is often being exchanged for temporary fame and satisfaction. To be a little less theoretical, we all know the ease of rationalizing taking that piece of pie for the temporary satisfaction, instead of sacrificing that desire for long-term health benefits. It is hard to deny that piece of pie when it is offered to you; however, I want to ponder with you if there are lasting consequences for this tendency’s many realms in our society. I am going to try to cover a few examples that ought to encourage us to invest our time for extended betterment.

Soccer/ football is my favorite sport. Within soccer culture, especially in Europe, there is a tendency to place all your eggs in the basket of the immediate. If a top club brings in a new manager for their team if the results are not up to the owner’s standards then being fired within 4-6 months is no rarity. Why? Because the short-term monetary ramifications of qualifying for a tournament or finishing at a certain place are considered to outweigh the lasting benefits of a coach that invests their wisdom into the team to produce lasting change. In a similar vein, it was easy for most American sport fans to get behind the US Women’s National Team during the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Tonight FC Kansas City played out an exciting game against the Houston Dash. These squads represented approximately a quarter of the team that represented the United States in the World Cup, yet viewership reports will likely not reflect a quarter of a given World Cup game. I propose that this is because the league has yet to overcome the difficult transition of encouraging the average spectator to invest their time and emotional energy into the NWSL. Commitment requires sacrificing something; currently the reward for watching women’s soccer has yet to merit the commitment of buying season tickets or even the general public watching the game for free on YouTube.

Another arena that this concept shows itself is politics, at least the current American political structure. Within politics there are two facets I would like to mention. First, there is a constant ebb and flow between political parties based on who angered the largest portion of society most recently. Political parties do not seem to emphasize lasting agreement for the betterment of our nation but constant bickering. Additionally, it seems legislation can often get offered and ratified in a reactionary manner to a current event or popular opinion that does not strengthen society as a whole but allows the politician(s) involved to gain a temporary upper hand.

Looking at life through a wide angled lens requires effort and intentionality. At work or school it requires you to act ethically because you are more concerned with your character than getting that immediate promotion or better grade. There is ease in only caring about what is right in front of us; nonetheless what is beautiful and lasting will not flow from this easy seeking lifestyle. I do not have three steps to make your life more meaningful while you establish a lasting legacy. What I do have is a concern that you and I need to struggle to go beyond the easy, as we transition to a life of sacrificing our temporary pleasures for the betterment of everyone and everything.

Let me know if you have any methods on how you try to invest in more meaningful lasting efforts.

Your friend,

James

Recommended Listening — July 17, 2015
Canada Refugee Assistance —

Canada Refugee Assistance

As you probably know, I recently spent around five weeks in Canada for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Throughout my time I was pleasantly surprised by the seeming pro immigrant and refugee stances portrayed in the Canadian media. At this same time back in the United States there was a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who framed immigrants in a demeaning light.  This gave me a desire to discuss Canada’s steps towards helping people on a path to a better life. Another reason this topic was chosen is based on a CBC Radio report I heard while driving, if you want to listen to the excellent report you can find it here.  The resettlement group discussed on the radio report can be found on Twitter here or their website is https://lifelinesyria.ca To cover this topic I will first briefly discuss refugee and human rights in Canada in general and transition to Syrian refugees moving to Canada.

Each country tends to have their own proud areas of rightly caring for the oppressed,  plus those times that mark the country’s history with shame. In the past, Canada had been lacking in fair treatment towards the Aboriginal Canadians. This was expressed both at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and articles such as the Centre for Social Justice’s article Overview: Struggling to Escape a Legacy of Oppression which discuss how native Canadian’s were forced to alter their lifestyle to that of European ideals. Further, this dark past is currently requiring Canada to debate how to handle poverty amongst the Aboriginals. (Centre for Social Justice Poverty/ Inequality  http://www.socialjustice.org/index.php?page=aboriginal-issues) However, what attracted me to writing on Canada is Canada’s current emphasis on human rights and care for refugees in need of a safe residence. To start with, when politicians were being interviewed on television and radio the concept of not helping those in need seemed like it was never a consideration. Canada’s viewpoint of other cultures adding to society and the consideration of assisting others as a responsibility of a wealthy nation ought to be applauded. For my friends that like statistics, “Canada annually takes in roughly one out of every 10 refugees, through the government-assisted and privately sponsored refugee programs.” (Government of Canada The Refugee System in Canada http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/canada.asp)

In the context of a country who attempts to rightly respond to the refugee crisis in our world I would like to point out how Canada is working with Syrian refugees. Canada is currently planning “to resettle 10,000 more Syrian refugees over 3 years Canada also pledges $90M in humanitarian aid and to resettle 3,000 Iraqi refugees” (CBC News Syrian Refugees http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/syrian-refugees-canada-urged-to-take-in-10-000-by-2016-1.2680953 ) This is a great step in the right direction of caring for those in their time of need. Further, there are groups, like the previously mentioned Lifeline Syria,  which are attempting to go beyond the extensive aims of the Canadian government towards assisting refugees. It is a great reminder that there are countries, groups, and individuals who are willing to offer their own efforts for a greater cause.

Canada has shown itself as a nation that cares. Canada might not have a perfect history, or for that matter be perfect currently. Despite this, they are making great strides as a nation towards caring well for refugees. This is shown in Canada’s collective wisdom and experience from past work with immigrants that is being implemented in current resettlement plans. (Lifeline Canada FAQ https://lifelinesyria.ca/faq/ ) I hope that you can find a way, like the Canadians have, to give back to those who need your efforts.

Your friend,

James

Greece and Europe: Debt Relief and Refugee Struggles — July 13, 2015

Greece and Europe: Debt Relief and Refugee Struggles

If you are at all interested in finance, or for that matter keep up with news at all, you are becoming familiar with the Greek Debt Crisis. This story line is dictated in newly familiar concepts like the Grexit, potential end of the Euro, collapse of the European Union, and European leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The ramifications for the Greek people during these tense times of austerity are immense. Having people worry about being able to get enough currency out of their bank to pay for basic living expenses is a concept that ought not to be familiar in our world. This morning we were greeted with the news of rising agreement in the European Union on debt restructuring for the Greece, pending individual governments authorizations. (Washington Post European Leaders Agree to Greek Rescue Plan) This is news of hope and potential lasting relief to a horrible economic problem.
In Greece and the wider European Union there is another issue that was recently reported on that does not seem to be getting as much publicity. There has been a sustained rise in refugees arriving on Greek land, to the tune of approximately 1,000 people per day with a base of around 77,000 people. (UN News Centre) Furthermore, there are “an estimated total of 436,000 people across the European Union” seeking to enter the EU on a refugee status. (UNHCR 2015 Subregional Operations) These are people that are often forgot because there is no nation that represents refugees on an international stage, just countries that complain about people as an economic issue, not a human with individual rights. 
The European Union has seemed to work out a major conflict in the Greek economic crisis. This solution took time, struggle, and substantial debate. Are we willing to stand for those who do not have an official seat in our legislators? I am not saying that there is a simple solution on how to aid these individuals. We all know that we are each unique, so I doubt a broad policy for all refugees would be the best solution but that does not mean that thought on resettling refugees and internally displaced people is not merited. I have no reason against celebrating steps in the right direction in Greece. However, let us not forget in the celebrations the refugees in Greece and the European Union that are still in utter economic distress.          

Your friend,

James

Sources:
UN News Centre http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51381#.VaPMtUo8KrU
UNHCR 2015 UNHCR subregional operations profile – Northern, Western, Central and Southern Europe

http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e48e996.html
Washington Post European Leaders Agree to Greek Rescue Plan https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/greece-agrees-to-a-punishing-ultimatum-from-european-leaders/2015/07/13/4b6c2f2a-28f3-11e5-960f-22c4ba982ed4_story.html

Review of Canada Trip —

Review of Canada Trip

Hi,

Yesterday I arrived home after an interesting month of following the USA Women’s National Team throughout Canada, going to 6 of the 7 games. It has been a month of travel, over 11,000 miles of driving. A month full of tension, with many emotional ups and downs. The downs started immediately because the US team started poorly against Australia; however, the US began to escalate their playing level quickly and easily progressed through the “group of death”. The game against Germany I felt a higher level of tension than when I had to present a business plan in a speech that consisted of half the grade for a class. When Germany missed their penalty kick the tide seemed to turn, with destiny seeming to indicate that the US would win the game and advance to the World Cup Final. The game ended in a convincing 2-0 win over the then number one ranked team in soccer. Finally, the World Cup Final was a novel experience with the goals raining down quickly and a party like atmosphere forming amongst the crowd. The loud cheers after the first USA goal become sheer disbelief that the shadow of the ‘99ers had finally been diminished with a 5-2 win over Japan.

Getting to experience the World Cup was like nothing else I know. I enjoyed seeing all of the cultures interacting in one unified space over a unified cause, watching the beautiful game. Furthermore, it was great to see the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (https://humanrights.ca) in Winnipeg. Finally, interacting with the various cultures, beautiful architecture, and histories of cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa. Canada was a lovely time and I would be happy to share more about the experience if you have any questions.

Your friend,

James

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P.S. Finally, I would like to apologize for my inconsistency in blogging while in Canada. I anticipate writing on the basis I had previously outlined.

P.P.S. I have more photos, if you want some from a particular game I would be happy to email them to you.

UNHCR Book  — July 4, 2015

UNHCR Book 

For this week’s link to another form of media I recommend the book UNHCR: The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection by Alexander Betts, Gil Loescher , and James Milner. You can find this book on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/United-Nations-Commissioner-Refugees-UNHCR/dp/041578283X . This book covers the origins, the issues, and the future of refugee work within the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the United Nations subsection that serves refugees and internally displaced people. The book is a great read, though it does have some technical components and often requires referring to the list of abbreviations they provide in the front of the book.

If you read the book, please let me know what you think.

Your friend, 
James