Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Thursday, 27 March 2008
Friday, 28 March 2008 03:10

Mind your manners

In a previous essay called The Anatomy of Communication I wrote about the elements that go into the communication process. It was concerned with the composition and delivery of the content of a message. But that is not the only way one person communicates with another. Your very presence, gestures, behavior and appearance also deliver messages that may or may not be intended. The very fact that you approach in person may say a lot about the importance of the contact or the importance of the person contacted. The way you dress, your facial expression, style of speech, the way you stand or sit or eat all convey information about yourself and your attitude and your respect or lack of it toward the one contacted.

This article is about the ways we behave that might please or displease, attract or repel the people around us. In this regard there are three terms commonly used: manners, etiquette, and politeness.

Manners or more properly good manners are sort of unwritten norms of behavior that are intended to put people at ease and smooth social relations. How often I heard my mother saying to me as I went off to a party or some other social function “mind your manners.” She meant “don’t be impolite”, “behave yourself”, “don’t forget all the proper etiquette we taught you for eating at table”, “know your place and act like a little gentleman”.

The social norms for interpersonal behavior are different from place to place and usually in a state of flux. It is still good manners to say “excuse me” if you interrupt someone or bump into them or just want to pass by causing them a little inconvenience. It used to be good manners for someone young to stand up and yield his/her seat to an elder. Nowadays it is considered more and more impolite to smoke in the presence of nonsmokers. There seems to be a growing number of people who consider it bad manners to speak on a cell phone in a crowded place or even to let it ring in a church or meeting. These norms usually arise through gradual consensus as some form of expression or behavior is accepted as pleasing and respectful and its negation or opposite seems impolite or offensive. A stranger’s ignorance of these norms or deliberate violation of them can be taken as rude, disrespectful or hostile.

Etiquette refers to issues connected with social decorum, such as proper ways to speak or act in public. Etiquette embraces sets of accepted and expected behaviors, many of which have been inscribed in printed rules of etiquette. There are etiquette rules for eating and drinking, for dealing with officials, for how to act in public places; there is office etiquette, business etiquette, internet etiquette (netiquette), etc.; etiquette can govern when and how to speak, what to wear, what is considered rude or inappropriate. The so-called rules of etiquette can be quite arbitrary, are seldom universal or applicable all around the world or in every cultural or social group. They develop and become codes of conduct gradually through common acceptance and expectation.

Persons are not born with the rules of etiquette instinctively embedded in their personalities. What they do hopefully possess is an instinct to please others and be accepted by others, so they absorb through observation and instruction the proper ways to speak and act according to their station in life and social class. Thus, as they grow up they learn what is expected of them and how to deal appropriately with others in order to please them and get from them what they desire for themselves in return.

There is a time and a place for everything and if you don’t know what these are you might get into trouble. When is it acceptable to use slang or swear? When is it right or wrong to wear shoes or remove your shoes when you enter a church or a mosque or enter a Japanese or Chinese friend’s house? Don’t go to a formal American banquet without coat or tie unless you are a Filipino wearing a barong tagalog or an African wearing a traditional robe, but even then you might get into trouble if the host is a prejudiced or insensible ass. When and where is it appropriate to eat with your fingers? What places require coat and tie or refuse entrance to those in shorts or barefoot or sleeveless or shirtless? When and how soon afterwards might you be expected to acknowledge a gift or write a thank you note? When and where might arriving late for an engagement or appointment be considered impolite? Is it good manners or bad manners to telephone someone very late at night or very early in the morning or to arrive unannounced at a person’s doorstep?

Politeness is the practical application of good manners and etiquette. Its expression depends upon the social status, cultural values and practices and the choice of vocabulary and expectations of the one addressed. Politeness is a sign of respect, face-saving, and shows the polite person is aware of his/her station and wishes to conform to the expectations of the person addressed. Any speech or behavior, intended or not, that violates what the person approached considers polite behavior will be taken as impolite or at least inappropriate. In some places, like in Japan, the very vocabulary of politeness is different for different levels of social class and position; in some places as in France it is impolite to use the singular form of “you” to others than family, close friends or peers; in some cultural groups to look into a person’s eyes is impolite, while in some others it is impolite not to look at another’s face; in some places politeness requires standing in the presence of another or removing one’s hat or bowing, shaking hands or avoiding physical contact, etc. Thus any time you need to approach someone of another culture or nationality, it is a very good idea to find out first how you should act and what to say, so you don’t commit any faux pas or cause embarrassment.

Sometimes, however, there are persons who are deliberately impolite and use bad manners to make a statement. There are those who consider it demeaning or hypocritical to have to conform to another’s pretensions. It is a way of saying “I despise you”, “I don’t like what you stand for”, “I spit in your face”, “I don’t need you to tell me what to say or how to act”, “I’m just being myself and if you don’t like it, that just too bad”, etc. Well, it’s a free world. If that is what you think and how you want to act, it’s your call, but don’t expect to make many friends or gain any respect or acceptance or cooperation from those who don’t speak and act as you do.

The social repercussions of bad manners and impropriety underline the importance of etiquette and politeness for maintaining understanding and peace in the world.

Unless you are about to encounter a different unknown culture, you probably don’t need to buy a special book of etiquette or rush to the internet for particulars. Anyone with good will and common sense and powers of observation should have a fairly good idea of what is appropriate and acceptable behavior in his/her own environment.

Attached media :
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Friday, 28 March 2008 03:05

Postmodern civility

There are rules of civility for every time, every place and every culture… Politeness is to be reinterpreted, reinvented and lived in new fashions according to technological and social evolutions… How can we all behave with more civility in the public spaces that we are passing by in today’s world? Let me just list a few issues for the sake of our common self-examination….

Airport civility: Nowadays, once you are stuck in an airport you generally wish you never went there… Congestion, shortage of security personnel, annoying boarding procedures, stress all around you… all of this makes airports a kind of portable hell…Hard not to get angry or frustrated… And yet, airport drama is not to be blamed on airlines or airport operators but rather on clueless passengers. Some people are just infuriating travel companions, because they never thought about how to manage their travel and the one of the people they will meet with. For instance, we now all know when we are going to be asked to remove belt or shoes, so it’s best to plan ahead. Do we need to travel with all these laces or belts with metal buckles? Cannot we make sure in advance that our pockets are free of change? Do children really need their own suitcase? Also, do so many people need to check their Blackberries while waiting in line?... Airports are truly the place where efficiency and good behavior become one and the same thing. I do not need smiling travel companions, I need efficient and quick-minded ones. Of course, if she or he can also offer a smile, suddenly the airport hall does not look so awful after all… Hell is sometimes closer from paradise than we would think.

Emailing etiquette: Emailing is far too easy…Mass email’s first problem is that information spread that way is often not accurate and can create a big problem for people whose name has been associated with the massively-spread rumor, even when the sender’s intention was not malignant. So, don’t hit "forward" to everyone in your address book before you check out the veracity of mass e-mails. A strange development of the plague of mass emails is that it hits the working place in a most dramatic way: people are inclined to send every bit of information to all their colleagues, and we are often immersed in a mass of irrelevant bits of news that do not help in the least the efficiency of our common work. Information used to be a rare commodity. Information and spam are now closely related commodities. So, it is not the abundance of information that makes us work in an efficient way, it is rather the care with which we check and distribute information. Talkative people can become awful bore. The same applies to abundant, mass emailers.

Phones and planes. Now, this one is a tricky one… Even when they hide for doing so, some plane passengers are now sending text messages and e-mails. A few companies are preparing to go one step further and break the taboo: once a plane has reached its cruising altitude, passengers will be able to switch on their cell phones and make and receive calls. On some companies, the new system is already on trial… Actually, surveys have found that many passengers are very much against the idea, but others have said that they would very much like to text, access the internet or make calls. We are still in the testing stage. Some low-cost carriers are now allowing limited Wi-Fi service on board, but not voice calls, while Air France is already starting to test voice service. Technology is not a problem any more, but the rules governing its use will have to be decided by passengers and airlines. Will there be a new battle on civility raging on the air? The question is especially tricky as airports and planes bring together people from different cultures and nations. One more reason for treating this possible change in rules and etiquette with as much caution as possible…

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Friday, 28 March 2008 03:04

A Noxious Weed

I came over here to Taiwan on the far side of the world and found the pantropical weed Bidens pilosa, a species that in years past I had stumbled across in South Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America. In South Florida it’s called “beggar’s tick” because each of the small thin seeds it produces in startling abundance has two clasps at the end that enable it to attach velcro-like to pant-legs, socks, and shoe-strings. The seeds have to be picked laboriously off when one comes indoors, otherwise they get all over everything. The plant invades lawns and sends down deep roots. It resists being pulled up by a strength in the roots and a weakness at the base of the stem. When someone tries to uproot one of these plants from a lawn, the base of the stem is apt to break off, leaving the roots firmly planted in the ground. In a surprisingly short time the weed grows right back again, as big as ever.

Here in Taiwan, I went out of my way one day to pull up by the root a huge unsightly clump of the plant despoiling the lawn out front of the public library across the street from where I lived at the time. The window of the room where I wrote looked out on that lawn and I felt that to get rid of the big weed would be an improvement. It took all my strength and tact to get the thing up by its deepest roots. After a long struggle, I rose from my knees in victory, with soiled hands and sore fingers. I tossed the big ungainly weed on the pavement to die in the hot sun. Just at that moment, a small Taiwanese girl scampered across the lawn in glee to another smaller clump nearby that I hadn’t noticed. With joyous delight she set about picking the white and yellow daisy-like flower clusters one by one.

Having learned long ago how aggressive a weed the species is around the world in tropical places, I’d completely forgotten until that instant that when I was that little girl’s age, I too had thought this plant special and felt its flowers to be so pretty. Seeing the way the little girl lovingly fashioning a pretty bouquet of the flowers made me unexpectedly remember.

I stood there and watched, as her father took her by the hand and led her away down the street, the way the child so lovingly clutched her precious posy in her other hand. The two of them walked right past the big sprawling plant I’d tossed in the street. A car had already run it over and crushed it.

William R. Stimson is an American writer who lives in Taiwan. His other published writings are posted at www.billstimson.com


Friday, 28 March 2008 03:00

After Taiwan's Elections

Ma Ying-jeou has received a strong mandate. On May 20, when he officially becomes Taiwan’s President, he will be able to rely on the tow-third and plus KMT majority at the Legislative Yuan and the support of a vast majority of local governments. What is his strength might also become his weakness.

Taiwan’s citizens have elected him for giving a new impulse to economic and social policies. They hope that better relationships with the Mainland will translate into economic benefits. At the same time, their vote can in no way be understood as a wish to alienate the political status-quo or a return to old-style KMT policies. The centrist image on which Ma Ying-jeou has been elected will have to pass the test of time and events, sometimes against the party on which he relies. This will prove to be a perilous exercise in equilibrium.

Ma Ying-jeou will have to come up with a government of young, moderate and capable people, signaling the entry into a new era. The government will have to be a factor of reconciliation, building on some of the cultural policies conducted by the former coalition while going beyond ethnic rivalries and gathering energies around a renewed economic and social model.

Such model cannot be solely directed towards economic growth. It has to include the building-up of real local democracy (the weak point in Taiwan’s present political system), sustainability and social cohesiveness. The campaign has been poor in content on these issues, and it is to be hoped that they will not be overlooked.

In other words, Ma Ying-jeou’s challenges go beyond the way he will deal with China. His capacity to renew and consolidate Taiwan’s self perception of its society, culture and cohesion might be the real test of its leadership ability.

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Friday, 28 March 2008 00:00

A Matter of Poetry

Bob Ronald rhymes and Benoit Vermander's poems

A rhymer like myself finds beauty and harmony in the sounds and rhythms of words which he or she crafts into written melodies ready for recitation and enjoyment. There is a message hidden in the rhyme, but it was born giving life and purpose to the composition and versification.

A poet like Benoit Vermander, on the other hand, sees first the beauty and harmony in some insight and transforms it into a moving, stimulating expression of truth that we ordinary mortals have probably overlooked or did not appreciate. An eye on the world has been offered us without which we would go through life oblivious of the realms and the meanings deep down things. Sometimes the poet also instills the composition with rhythm and rhyme, making it even more striking.



Here are some examples. First some rhymes of my own.

The Way To Bounce

The adage is that
When falling, a cat
Will land on its feet.
No way that I can.
I’m only a man.
I’d land on my seat.

It’s the way that you bounce
Not the landing that counts.
If still you can stand
Right after you fall,
Not hurting at all,
Then the landing was grand.


Sky’s Secret

I look at sky
And wonder why
It doesn’t fall.
I know a lot,
But God I’m not.
My mind is small.
I know a bit
How some things fit.
I don’t know all.

I wish I knew
What makes sky blue.
I don’t know yet.
So much to know
Where does time go?
I mustn’t fret.

It’s not God’s plan
That people can
Become so wise
That they can find
What’s on His mind
Or in his eyes.

There’ll be no quiz
About what is
Or how or when.
But when I rest
From all my quest,
I’ll know all then.

Do what I ought.
It’s not my thought
That makes me true.
Just do my best,
I’ll pass the test
When life is through.

Every Second Needs A First

No fruit at the top
Is found on a crop
With nothing below.
Before that, indeed,
There must be good seed
To make it all grow.

The way to be bolder
Is stand on the shoulder
Of someone who’s already bold.
You’ll only be taller,
If once you were smaller.
For only the golden are gold.

No letter, no mail.
There’s only a sale
If something is sold.
No moisture, no hail.
There’s only a tale
If a story is told.

Numbers

Two plus two
Is quite a few.
Four plus four
Is twice as more.
Six plus six,
You’re in a fix,
For two hands then
Make only ten.
The proper sum
From toes must come.

The range of numbers has no end,
What each one means you cannot bend.
And then to add to all your cares,
There’s plus and minus, roots and squares.
How much nicer would it be
If there were only one, two, three.

Those are my rhymes. Here are Benoit’s poems.

Ghosts and angels

I will not wait on the threshold.
I will wander into wet fields and ghost mountains
Until I lose my way.
I will then call for help,
Hoping for the coming of green and grey angels
Escorted by wild beasts which they tame
If no other mission requires them.

We will all stay in the incandescent shadow
That covers and burns these bounties,
Watching over the luxuriant desert
Where one’s path is found once it’s lost.


Pocket landscape

The soul - as misty
As the winter hills -
Lies down, and the breeze
Soon bares her chest.
Once clouds are gone
Where will be hiding
The soul, the soul just as misty
As are the mornings on the hills?


Moving away

Be the curve of my sight and the touch of my hand,
You, crest of the Southern mountains
That floats from one ocean to the next
With the easy melancholy only mastered
By things that don’t need to stand firm,
The things in which dwells the spirit
Who knows how to move volumes and lines
Till they picture music to the eyes and the breath
- The breath that moves along the crest
of the Southern mountains.


Not moving anymore

Trees and peaks go briskly on the road
As I stand still. The tunes they hum,
I perceive them only vaguely, such is the speed.
The birds are at pain to follow, and finally decide
To gather around the salty dream I have become.
Fruits fallen on the way nourish me, and fonts
Born in my throat flow down towards the roots
Of the ground that transfixes me.


Speak low

A night as blue as a bird’s tail
Speaks low to the ear of the leaves,
Telling of immensurable spaces that are buried
- So says the night - into the cells,
the sand and the foam.

There is a well that collects the white secrets
The night is breathing away,
A well as deep as the palm and the pupil.

Purple is the sound of the sea
When morning comes
– the sea that at dawn returns to the caves
The secrets sung low to the leaves.


The biggest difference between my verse and Benoit’s poems is that strip the rhyme and meter from mine and there is practically nothing left, whereas his thoughtful inspiration without any rhyme achieves its high level of meaning and emotion.

As rhymer, I hope the readers will get a kick out of my plays with sounds and words. As poet Benoit hopes that others will encounter the realty and feel the throbbing pulse throbbing beneath the surface trappings that camouflage what lies below.

Actually, I am more than just a rhymer. I also compose poems that I hope are more than grand sounding songs, as the following suggests:

Some are quite funny;
Some of them sad;
Some full of wonder;
Some of them glad.
Some are pretentious
And meant to impress,
In others I try
To plainly express
The feelings that I
Found deep in my heart.
And sometimes depart
From meter and rhyme
To echo and show
The ebb and the flow
Of my mood at the time.

 

 

Published in Focus: Poetry and Song
Thursday, 27 March 2008 21:59

如何成功執政?

2008台灣總統大選由馬英九勝選。
大選過後,中央、地方、立院幾乎都掌握在國民黨手中。
國民黨切莫遺忘人民自由,如言論自由、媒體自由、新聞自由…
魏明德 撰文

馬英九的勝利並不出人意外。然而,新總統拿到勝利之後將做些什麼,才是真正的問題所在。不管台灣居民投誰一票,都希望往後好運站在執政者這邊,因為這塊土地上的人需要願景、動能、團結。接下來的四年如果失敗,不將只是一個團隊、一個黨的挫敗,而是整個台灣的失敗。成功執政有其要求與條件,最好是能夠條列出來,再說新總統將政見付諸行動分秒必爭。輿論的評斷取決於執政者的第一次行動,而成功執政的起始需要四個條件。
成功執政的第一個條件在於踏進一個新年代的決心,絕不能念舊或復舊。每個人似乎都在追討這八年的政治缺失,但執政者也必須懂得接收過去的結果,重新出發。即將建立的政府團隊不應該找過去年代的風雲人物,不應該找黨中大老,而應該任用有才能的年輕人,讓新氣候與新主意開創新台灣。
第二個條件隨著第一個條件而來:如果政府團隊清新而年輕,那將是一個懂得和解的團隊。新政府應該掃除所有使人民分裂的障礙,尊重這幾個月不同而多元的意見表達。當個尊重者、聆聽者、聚合者,而且這不應該被當成空話或是口號。接下來的政治作為應以此為先,文化與教育層面的發展(凝聚人民認同)應以此為重,決策的制定與施行應以此為準。
我們接著談第三個條件,那就是新團隊必須重視市民、地方政府以及民間團體的參與。如今一黨獨大,中央、立法院與大部分地方政府被掌控在同一政黨手中,這不能不說是一項隱憂。對於這項隱憂,新政府必須在討論與協調的過程多付出心力,再統合大多數人的意見。新的政治風格若要形成,端賴新政府是否能夠活絡地方民主並鼓勵市民參與。舉例而言,台灣是資訊科技的天堂,而資訊科技提供的服務必須能夠用來幫助民主革新。
堅持市民參與使我們看到成功執政的最後一個條件,落實新的生態與社會模式勢在必行。新政府不能只想著經濟成長率,最迫切的事在於質的提升與人性的成長。從這點看來,競選期間兩位候選人的言論尚不夠令人信服。我們衷心期望執政者能帶領台灣成為一個模範國家,實現社會和諧與環境和諧。如此一來,在國際社會上台灣將會被重視、被尊重、被聆聽。
-------------------------



Thursday, 27 March 2008 21:48

在乎與過去和解

我們看影片《再見曼德拉》,我們問曼德拉將給2008年的台灣什麼啟發?
2008年2月24日,【曼德拉與南非族群和解】座談會在時報文教基金會與台灣促進和平基金會主辦,佳映國際娛樂與人籟論辨月刊協辦下熱烈展開。
三位主講人談曼德拉的感染力與實踐力,並從南非族群和解的範例汲取靈感,相信您可以讀到台灣新作為的推展方向。

沈秀臻 整理

面對台灣的歷史共業
政治大學台灣文學研究所長陳芳明

曼德拉來台灣訪問的時候,我接待過他。我在一九九五年見過曼德拉,那時我在民進黨服務,我擔任文宣部主任。
他講話和藹可親,他的英語講得像影片中獄警模仿的那樣,影片中的曼德拉詮釋得很傳神。從影片中我們看到曼德拉被監禁了二十七年,後來在一九九四年當選總統。這段期間剛好是我讀大學、研究所,被列入黑名單後從海外回來的時間。這部影片勾起我很多回憶。
如何從影片對照台灣的局勢?影片中曼德拉說「看不到的傷害最難處理」,我從一九八○年代開始成為二二八研究者,我深有同感。這十年來由於政黨輪替的關係,許多機關檔案的史料與檔案現在都公佈了,但研究轉型正義的人並不重視,這是很奇怪的文化現象。
所謂轉型正義,就是一個年代從威權轉為民主時,開始面對並討論過去造成傷害的因素,使得過去不正義的事在民主時代得到糾正。對於六十年前發生的事,今天我們到底追究什麼?我們要怎樣的正義?如果這些議題變成消費的名詞,把正義換算成選票,永遠找不到正義。
整個南非為何得以順利轉型?這樣的提問讓我們面對台灣實際的經驗。政黨輪替之後,台灣喪失了協商文化,對話與討論的文化。我們的領導人必須為台灣建立對話與討論的文化。南非戴克拉克願意與曼德拉談,曼德拉願意與戴克拉克談,但前提是他自己必須是自由身。
如果國民黨一直在逃避歷史,而民進黨一直在追討歷史的話,對話無法出現,這樣過一百年我們還在原地踏步。
台灣的改革傳統從國民黨時代已經開始。戒嚴令由國民黨發佈,解除戒嚴令也是由國民黨發佈。我個人認為政黨輪替其實本身已經完成一次轉型正義,人民用選票對威權做了一次裁判。
談二二八事件時,除了寬恕之外,我們必須面對台灣的歷史共業,不論是加害者或是受害者,這些人的子孫必須在這塊土地繼續活下去,我們進入二十世紀,我們還要進入二十一世紀。
一個不會反省歷史錯誤的社會,一定會重複過去的歷史錯誤。影片中曼德拉被釋放的狀態,不只是肉體的釋放,也在精神以及心靈上同時自我釋放。我們必須從歷史的囚牢中自我釋放出來,才能以持平的態度談轉型正義。

回顧曼德拉的策略與人格
中央研究院社會學研究所研究員吳乃德

曼德拉被監禁二十七年,但他成為一個運動的象徵。
曼德拉是南非武裝衝突的起始者與推動者司令,他是非洲民族議會(African National Congress, ANC)的靈魂人物,有一陣子他穿西裝拿手槍,並組織民族之矛。剛開始非洲民族議會走的是甘地式非武裝的路線,曼德拉將這樣的計劃改為武裝路線,他不願為了被釋放而放棄武力鬥爭。
非洲民族議會(African National Congress, ANC)在通過自由憲章之前,原先走的是激進路線,欲建立純粹黑人的南非,經過曼德拉的努力,才修改路線,走向族群和解,可見曼德拉對南非的貢獻。後來,非洲民族議會遵守和解的精神,不建立黑人政府,而建立黑人與白人都有機會當總統的政府。
曼德拉具有下列的人格特質:願為理想而死、與人為善、認識自己的缺點而務實等等。

揭開傷疤醫治傷口
婦女教援基金會創辦人

曼德拉說過:「我離開了囚房,我從邁向自由大門的監獄走出來的時候,如果我不能把悲痛與仇恨放在我身後的話,那麼我仍然留在監獄中。」南非大主教屠圖這樣形容曼德拉:「他是寬恕與和解的化身,他是個高風亮節而且胸襟寬大的人。」從南非局勢的扭轉,我們看到曼德拉為了理想維護人權,維護自由,維護正義而赴湯蹈火。
南非真相與和解委員會扮演重要角色,它如何籌組並成功運作呢?一、國際社會的制裁瀕臨界線,國內流血對立的鬥爭到了極點。二、曼德拉願意寬恕與和解,面對過去的痛苦、仇恨與不公義,以國家的團結與和解建構國家的核心。三、發揚非洲的班圖精神,強調你我一體,互相依存,密不可分。四、宗教信仰的幫助。
真相調查委員會由不同領域、種族、專業、年齡的十七個人組成。聽證會開放、透明,場場開放給媒體採訪。屠圖大主教請求受害人到聽證會陳述。司法設有大赦,加害人可申請大赦,但必須出庭把事實說出來。加害者不須負民事、刑事責任或行政責任。補償工作由南非政府負責,六年來補償的金額達到四億七千七百萬元。整個南非族群和解的運作機制為調查真相,提出道歉,做出賠償。不但看過去,還在維護民主自由的前提下展望未來。
南非處理的經驗是否能給台灣借鏡呢?目前就二二八以及白色恐怖,我們基於立法給予道義上的補償。除了查案之外,我認為還需要做口述歷史。我們設有二二八條例,本來是補償,今年改為賠償,賠償金額最高為六百萬。除此,照顧遺族、設立紀念碑,舉行紀念會,更重要的是當家的總統向被害者與被害者家屬道歉。至於是否追究當年的責任,這就涉及追究的範圍、對象與方式。被害人與被害人家屬的意願是首要考量,他們願意追究或放棄追究的意願必須被尊重,同時顧及社會大眾的意願與想法。這些都需要調查、討論,並一步步凝聚社會共識。
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Thursday, 27 March 2008 21:45

對抗全球暖化是人性之戰

貧窮與全球暖化這兩場對抗賽應同時進行,不可冒一絲取此捨彼之險。
否則,窮人將再次淪為此對抗戰中的輸家。

魏明德 撰文 林虹秀 翻譯 黃嘉琳 攝影

全球暖化對抗賽在二○○七年出現了嶄新面貌。儘管當中仍有許多具體事項尚待考量,懸而未決;然可肯定的是在未來幾年內,投注在這場賽事的財務與人力將大幅增加,以對抗這空前的大挑戰。這的確是個好消息。全球暖化議題的進展,反映出全體人類先前對此議題所採的敵對意見已有所改變。
另一方面,貧窮對抗賽仍在持續奮戰中。聯合國約於二○○○年規劃出「千禧年發展目標」的藍圖,並希望於二○二五年之際消弭赤貧。此一目標在過去看來似乎是項不可能的任務;如今人類顯然已具備實踐目標的辦法與所需知識了。
不過,要達成消弭赤貧的崇高目標,目前所動員的力量卻遠不及所需。在消除貧窮與減緩全球暖化這兩個目標之間,我們可能目睹了一些微妙的取捨現象。
當然,這兩者本身並不相互衝突,甚至可說是相輔相成:氣候變遷引起的自然災害若發生在非洲或貧苦的亞洲沿海,貧窮根本無法消除。水和森林本為稀少資源,水耗損與森林濫伐卻削減了賴此為生的人們的可用資源。然而,國際信貸遵循的是協商法則,玩的是權力遊戲,從這些遊戲中真正得利的是那些正在崛起的開發中國家,而非赤貧之國(最新資料顯示,赤貧人口占全球總人口數約六分之一)。開發中國家過度仰賴科技,因而造成高度污染,碳排放量高:環境清理補助金主要流向這些國家。貧窮國家則指那些不排放溫室氣體的國家,這些國家可能會被排除在新的全球補助機制外。因此,全球暖化議題成為已開發國家散播、販售科技的藉口;讓開發中國家(中階國家, middle-income nations)藉此從眾多國際補助金中獲利。
雖然,世界治理仍存有惱人問題:它缺乏讓人裁斷優先順序、政策選擇的全面機制。但從此刻起,貧窮與全球暖化這兩場對抗賽應同時考量、進行,不可冒一絲取此捨彼之險。否則,窮人會再次淪為此對抗戰中的輸家。
最後,全球暖化對抗戰不應僅被視為一項單純的科技挑戰,而應以政治與人道主義立場來看待。單靠一個高爾(Al Gore)出面解決全球暖化議題是不夠的。我們還需要有個甘地,時時提醒世人人道、社會與心靈等岌岌可危的議題。
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