these are the posts tagged ‘politics’:


“all that red on the map, like a blood stain”

the morning after the US election, i heard someone utter that description of the results and it stuck. stunned and spinning and scrambling for explanations, the world puzzled at the websummit, the theme unavoidable on every panel.

in the weeks since, disbelief gave way to real fear. everything else has felt rather small and meaningless, in comparison to the big elephant in the room.

spinning

and then, slowly but surely, this cold helplessness in the pit of my stomach has transformed into a kind of determination. i’ve realised there is something i can do — which is, after all, exactly what we’ve been doing for the past 11 years through postcrossing: randomly connecting strangers.

if this project has taught me anything, it’s that people everywhere want the same things: to be happy and healthy, to keep their loved ones safe, to be heard and understood. when we randomly match two of these strangers across the world, we disregard their religion, skin colour, political stance or nationality… and yet, whoever they are, they share this brief moment together, teaching and learning and smiling for a few seconds. it’s beautiful.

it’s of little consolation, i’m sure, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something. the more we know of these “strangers” out there, the more we understand them. and the more we understand, the less we fear.

and this — this i can do.

sir nicholas winton

on the same day the postcrossing stamp was launched, czech post also launched a stamp to honour nicholas winton. sir winton is known as the british schindler, for having saved over 600 jewish children at risk from the nazis in 1938, by resettling them with british families.

sir nicholas winton

it’s not lost on me, the irony of celebrating a man who gave all these children a second chance at life, while we close borders and stop others from coming in. who will we be celebrating, 50 years from now?

the king and the sparrow

i stumbled upon this story on wikipedia the other day. it sounds like one of those stories you’re told when you’re a child, the kind that you’re supposed to figure out the “lesson” in the end. i leave that bit to you.

The Four Pests campaign was one of the first actions taken in the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962. The four pests to be eliminated were rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows.

The campaign was initiated by Mao Zedong, the first President of the People’s Republic of China. Sparrows were included on the list because they ate grain seeds, causing disruption to agriculture. Additionally, Mao was annoyed one morning when a sparrow stole his toast as he was eating breakfast outside. It was decided that all the peasants in China should bang pots and pans and run around to make the sparrows fly away in fear. Sparrow nests were torn down, eggs were broken, their nestling were also killed.

Initially, the campaign did improve the harvest. By April 1960 the National Academy of Science issued that sparrows ate insects more than seeds. Mao declared “forget it”, and ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows. By this time, however, it was too late. With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and compounding the problems already caused by the Great Leap Forward and adverse weather conditions leading to the famine. From 1959 to 1961, an estimated 38 million people died of starvation.