How Far Yet to Go . . .

With all the posts denouncing violence in the Middle East, there've been comments on how people will never change. On how the problem is either greed or fear or stupidity. How politics is about power and corruption going hand in hand and never the twain be a'part├ęd.

Well it is surely all of those things, and what makes it so incredibly hard to overcome is that it's all of those things being practiced, not just by those who would be the leaders and rulers, but from those who make up the bulk of the human species. It is the ignorance of what our desires are costing not only other folk in the zero sum reality of competition for survival, but ourselves when we refuse to compromise our desire to dominate. These things perpetuate the ignorance as to what is truly the most desirable direction of our species' continued evolution on Earth, even as they drive that evolution on.

Thus I believe we've got to remember to teach out kids the importance of Democracy and Critical Thinking, since they're always going to have a need for both. We always have. Why would the future be any different in that regard? Even as one who focuses on the facts showing how we've made phenomenal political progress over the centuries, I readily acknowledge the obvious fact that we've still enormous hurdles to leap in our ongoing evolution.

In The Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, they had an election. It was feared there would be widespread violence at the polls; that people would be denied their opportunity to cast their vote. This turned out pretty good relative to those fears. What comes of those elections is yet to be seen. What motivated the voters and those campaigning through relentless heat and across vast distances - both geographi and cultural - is a story handled quite well by der Spiegle's Uwe Buse.

This was from the July 26th Edition, just prior to the elections on Sunday. I slacked and didn't post it then, but have realized it doesn't really matter to most of the readers here who gets elected from that poll. What's important is the story told about what people want. This is a short excerpt from Part 2 of the story. I think that it illustrates the most fundamental of the problems that remain with us, not only in parts of the world which are somewhat more developed than central Africa, like the Middle East, but right here in the heart of the Industrialized world.

Tribalism as a proven concept

His audience stares at him incredulously. To these people, the whole thing sounds like a cheap excuse.

He ends his speech with an appeal: "Vote for me, Kalala Ilunga Matthiesen!" The applause is polite at best.

One of the people in the audience is Ngoy Muso, an old man with wrinkled skin. Muso is a delegate from Mukuni, a village two days away by bicycle. The village sent him here to size up Ilunga Matthiesen.

Muso is about 60. He remembers the days of Belgian colonial rule and then suffering through three decades of dictatorship under Mobutu, who treated the national treasury and his subjects' lives as his personal property. He survived the civil war, with its 3 million dead, and he has little regard for big politics, national politics or international politics. Politics has never brought him or his country anything but chaos and misery. He believes that safety, though not necessarily peace, is best found in small groups -- family, clan or tribe.

Tribalism is a proven concept in Muso's world. His father and his ancestors lived according to its rules. Democracy, on the other hand, is a strange and dubious European import for Muso. He has little use for it.

Muso, like many here in Malemba Nkulu, lives eons away from European -- and Ilunga Matthiesen's -- ideas. Concepts like equal rights, constant discourse, contradiction, disobedience and the unquenchable search for compromise are foreign to Muso. The ideals of the Enlightenment have no meaning in his hierarchical world. In this world, the young obey the old, the women obey the men and the poor obey the rich. No one is loyal to an idea or a nation. Loyalty is reserved for the family, the clan and the tribe.

These are the rules by which he lives. And as strange as it sounds, it's because of these rules that he plans to vote for Ilunga Matthiesen. The candidate is a member of the right tribe and the other candidates are not, and for Muso, that's all that counts.


  1. well-written and so true...thanks for updating me on this.


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