Erenlai - Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名
Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名

Commitment to Freedom 以自由之名


There are the rights we are entitled to exercise, and the inner freedom we struggle for throughout our existence. Freedom, in the diversity of its social and personal manifestations, is something we all cherish and strive for. How can medias, politics or schools nurture liberty humanism and pluralism while adapting to new technological and social conditions? Here we explore how to make proper use of the freedoms we all value so much.

人權、學習權、言論發表權、投票權,這種種自由與民主的產物讓人學會了什麼?又遺忘了什麼?當我們一心爭取這可貴的各種權利時,我們的對己身的責任、他人的尊重以及社會的參與同樣也提升了嗎?

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

台灣與日本的禮貌大不同

走路擋路、我行我素、唱歌不認輸…青木由香初來乍到,總覺得台灣人「很奇怪」;
說話拐彎、一眼一板、看人顏面…生性開朗的由香,竟也開始覺得日本人「禮多人也怪」。
變成「半個台灣人」的青木由香,邀請台灣人和日本人進入對方的世界,學習對方的「禮貌」與「無禮」!

李禮君 採訪

在台灣生活了將近五年,妳覺得哪種行為最令妳無法忍受?

香:走路!台灣人走路的方式,我到現在還是沒有辦法習慣。
有時候我很急、很趕時間,可是走在我前面的台灣人走得很慢,一點都沒發現後面有人,我就被擋住。日本人走路很注意後面,因為他們害怕街上可能會有壞人或扒手,但是台灣人不會注意,即使後面的人已經快要貼到他們的背了,他們還是一邊走一邊聊天、一邊看路邊的東西。常常我要走右邊,前面的人也剛好往右邊;我想改走左邊,前面的人也剛好朝左邊看東西!這是我到現在還是無法習慣的事情。

那麼,台灣人的哪些「習性」妳已漸漸適應?

香:台灣人約定事情的方式,我原本很不習慣,現在已經漸漸適應了。台灣人若想要找朋友一起吃飯,常常會當天才約,日本人通常都會事先約好。因為日本人比較重視自己的時間,就算當天完全沒有約會,可是還是會想做自己的事,例如看書、休息或整理房間。如果有人突然邀約,又不好意思拒絕,就會造成困擾。日本人若要約朋友吃飯,通常會在前一、兩個禮拜先約,而且會先說好時間、地點、吃什麼。台灣人常常只說:「下個星期一起吃飯吧!」卻沒有說好時間地點,那個提議的人如果後來想起這件事,到了當天就會打電話聯絡,但如果他忘記了,這件事就算了,好像也沒人在乎。哈哈…
我剛來台灣的時候,有朋友跟我說「下個週末一起吃飯」,所以我就先把禮拜五、禮拜六、禮拜天三天都空下來,從禮拜三開始等他的聯絡。結果禮拜三沒有人打來,禮拜四沒有,禮拜五也沒有。那時候我朋友不多,所以有點難過,我以為這個台灣朋友不喜歡我!後來才知道其實根本不是,他只是「忘記」而已!如果當時我勇敢一點,主動打電話給他就好了。
現在,有時候我也會突然想約某個朋友吃飯,就打電話給對方。我的台灣朋友和日本朋友都說,我已經變成台灣人了!

在妳所寫的書《奇怪ね:一個日本女生眼中的台灣》中,描述了台灣和日本的「KTV文化」。請分享妳的觀察?

香:KTV原是日本人發明的,到了台灣卻漸漸變成另一種樣子。我覺得KTV很像是一個縮小的社會,而且很準確地呈現了日本的社會和台灣的社會。
日本人如果跟長輩或同事一起去KTV唱歌,一定不敢遲到,也不會先點歌,而是讓長輩或上司先點。就算是跟平輩朋友一起去,也會先互相禮讓一下:「你先呀…你先呀…」
可是在台灣,大家不會按照約定的時間到達,而是先到先唱。雖然很多人還沒到,先進包廂的人就先開始點歌,而且一次就點個五、六首,然後一個人就開始唱起歌來了!
台灣人唱歌時,如果聽到別人點了一首他喜歡的歌,就會拿起麥克風一起唱。可是在日本,我們不能唱「別人的歌」,要乖乖地聽,聽完之後要拍手。除非是點歌的人邀請你唱,才可以一起唱,或者是很熟、很熟的朋友才可以這樣。還有,就算別人唱得不好,我們很難稱讚他唱得好聽,也要儘量用別的話鼓勵他,例如「很像某某歌手」、「很有趣」…好累喔!
可是在台灣,如果有人唱得不好聽,大家就不聽了,開始玩遊戲、聊天、做自己的事。在日本,如果正在唱歌的人被忽略,一定會很生氣。我還聽台灣朋友說過,有一次,因為有一個人唱得很難聽,所有的人都跑出去拿東西吃,只剩下他一個人在唱歌!
所以,我覺得日本人和台灣人「交換」一下唱KTV的方式,應該會很快樂!

妳在台灣看到的「失禮行為」,有沒有令妳感到十分有趣的?

香:很多,例如我在台灣常常聽到放屁的聲音!在日本,我長到這麼大只碰到過一次,但來到台灣,我常常碰到。譬如說我跟一些台灣朋友一起聊天,或是在公園運動的時候,常會突然聽到有人放屁,而且不是完全不小心的,而是很「自然」的,有時候還會故意用力!很好笑,哈哈…
第一次聽到的時候,我嚇了一大跳!我問一位歐巴桑:在台灣可以放屁嗎?那位歐巴桑說:「可以呀!很自然啊!」而且在台灣,碰到有人放屁,周圍的人的反應也很奇怪,好像都假裝聽不見一樣!在日本,都是儘量忍著,如果身體真的很不舒服當然沒辦法,但是會覺得很丟臉。

在禮貌方面,妳認為台灣人應該向日本學習嗎?

香:其實,日本人的禮貌有時候好,有時候不好。日本人常常因為禮貌而造成麻煩,造成「太禮貌的不禮貌」。所以,台灣人跟日本人應該要互相學習。
例如,日本人總是很在意對方的心裡在想什麼。其實有時候,如果立刻說出來,就可以直接解決問題,可是我們不敢講,怕對方難過。譬如有人送我一個東西,可是我家已經有很多了,如果是台灣人可能會說:「我家已經有很多了,你送給別人會比較好吧!」可是如果是日本人,一定會勉強收下來。
又如,我很怕台灣人一直請我吃東西,因為就算我已經吃過了,很飽,可是卻不好意思拒絕,後來自己吃得很難過!
還有,台灣人跟上司聊天好像朋友一樣。在日本,就算跟老闆感情很好,只要是旁邊有其他同事,對上司就要用「敬語」。日本話裡有很多、很多的敬語,例如把自己說得比較卑下的敬語、過去(傳統)使用的敬語,有時候還分女生、男生的說法等等。在台灣,好像只有「您」,或者再加個「請」字,算是比較尊敬的用語吧!
不過,台灣人也有一種很麻煩的禮貌,就是喝酒時一定要敬酒。我們只要一開始時說一聲「乾杯」,接下來就隨便大家,要喝的時候就喝;可是你們好像不可以自己喝,一定要找別人一起喝,就算不想喝也要喝,或是就算嘴巴裡有很多東西,也一定要喝…這個禮貌真的是很「麻煩ね(Nei)」!

日本的小孩子如何學習禮貌?

香:在日本,學校的老師和家裡的爸爸媽媽都會教小孩要有禮貌,小孩子也會看爸媽怎麼做,他們就怎麼做。而且在日本,就算小孩子已經長大了,遇到一些節慶賀禮的事情,如包紅包要怎麼包、包多少,或是什麼禮物不可以送,他們也會詢問爸爸媽媽。因為如果包得太多,會使對方感到負擔,感覺不舒服。

在日本,是否年紀大的長輩比年輕人有禮貌?

香:不一定。感覺上,過去大家比較有禮貌。到了最近這幾年,有些年紀大的人也「現代化」了。例如我們日本人坐公車或地鐵時都不接手機(行動電話),怕吵到別人。就算一定要接的話,也會馬上跟對方說:「我在坐車,不好意思,等一下再打給你。」或者是把手機關掉。但現在在日本,有些年紀大的人也開始會在車廂裡很大聲地講電話,跟年輕人差不多!

妳認為日本人與台灣人對於「空間」的禮貌有何不同?

非常大的不同!例如排隊,台灣人跟日本人的距離不一樣。在日本,如果有足夠的空間,人與人的距離會比較大,可是台灣人排隊時,前後兩人的距離非常近,近到有時候我以為是男女朋友的兩人,其實是陌生人!
坐電梯也是一樣。例如我先進了電梯,後來陸續有人進來,於是我就站在最後面,靠著牆壁。後來站在門口的人走出電梯,在這種狀況下,如果是在日本,站在中間的人會往前一步,讓我有多一些空間。可是在台灣,站在我前面的人完全不動,而且開始跟別人聊天,好奇怪!我被擠在後面都快窒息了!
在台北坐捷運時,如果是上下班時間,車廂通常很擠,這一點其實台灣和日本是一樣的。但是在日本,雖然坐車的時候不喜歡別人太靠近,可是一坐地鐵,我們還是會拼命擠啊、擠啊,就算再擠都要把自己塞進車廂。因為都市的房子太貴,大家都選擇住在比較遠的地方,所以上班一定要搭地鐵,如果趕不上車就完蛋了,老闆會扣薪水!所以日本人的壓力很大,自殺率很高。你看看東京市的電車,每一天幾乎都有人自殺。

是不是日本人習慣把空間留給別人,而壓抑自己?

香:對,而且不只是給別人空間,自己也需要空間。自己若失去了應有的空間,也會很不舒服。例如在電車上,一個女生和一些男生擠在一起,男生會怕碰到女生,女生也會想要保護自己。如果擠在一起的全部都是男生或都是女生,也會很小心不要碰到扒手。所以當車廂裡很擠的時候,能走開就儘量走開,因為如果有一個人的東西突然不見了,我如果在裡面,也可能會被懷疑,很麻煩。
所以,日本人把空間讓給別人,同時也在保護自己。但台灣人好像都沒有這種空間的感覺。例如在公寓的樓梯間,應該是屬於大家的空間,但台灣人會把自己的東西放在這裡,不是只有鞋子,還有傢俱、雨傘…很多很多!什麼東西都有!但台灣人好像都覺得沒關係,因為「只要有空間,都是我的空間。」

所以台灣人應該學習多注意別人的感受,而日本人應該學習更直接地表達自己?

香:對!而且台灣人跟日本人的差別真的很大。台灣人比較單純,想打嗝就打,想放屁就放,想唱歌就一直唱歌,不管別人感覺如何,自己開心就好。日本人則是很習慣「看別人的臉色」。
老實說,「看別人的臉色」倒不一定是不好的。例如我感冒了,如果我不說,台灣人不太會察覺我的狀況。可是如果我跟日本人在一起,他們會立即發現:「妳臉色不好,是不是感冒了?」可是如果台灣朋友約我出去,我回答說:「今天不太舒服…」(語氣虛弱)他們會很興奮地說:「沒關係啦!我們一起去玩嘛!開心就忘記啦!」
不過,我本身其實有一點台灣人的個性。以前在日本,我常常會跟自己說:「不可以,要忍耐!」所以我的才華就有點被壓抑了。來到台灣之後我就覺得很舒服,好像「叭」地開花了!

附加的多媒體:
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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

心禮貌運動

我們還是「禮儀之邦」嗎?

這個問題不容易回答。早在西元前七百年,中國早已訂定一套完整的禮儀制度。即便在今日,舉凡婚喪喜慶的禮俗、親屬長幼的稱謂,以及祭祀祖先的儀式等等,在在都可證明華人對「禮」的重視程度。

不過,中國悠久的禮儀傳統似乎尚未和現代社會連上線。行走在摩肩接踵的現代化都市叢林,我們似乎不太懂得如何面對他人與自己的不一樣,如何以愉悅的互動彼此善待:當我們來到中式餐廳享用美味佳餚,常常要同時吞嚥陣陣的喧嘩噪音。在火車月台上,乖乖排隊的乘客常被當成傻子;車廂裡,「主動讓座」還不是個人內化的規範。當手機鈴聲在人群中響起,想必接下來是一連串旁若無人的高聲談話…

公共場所中的人際互動亦顯現出一個社會的健康狀態。當我們與陌生人相遇,是否總將對方當成壞人來提防?當衝突發生,我們選擇先聲奪人還是訴諸理性?當我們看到從外地來的旅客、身心障礙者、老人或病弱者時,我們是否主動協助?當我們在路上遇到惱人的狀況(如嚴重塞車),是否破口大罵或猛按喇叭,以宣洩心中的不滿?

隨著時代的變遷以及人際往來的日益頻繁,我們需要重新檢視「公共禮節」的價值與意涵,並重新界定「禮」的向度。這一期《人籟》與您共同思索這些古老的新問題:在不同的文化與語言環境中,我們如何與人溝通並和諧相處?行動通訊、網際網路等日益普及,我們如何因應資訊科技所帶來的新課題?生活在極易產生摩擦或衝突的現代城市,我們如何從「心」出發,做一個「友善的陌生人」?

當我們的腦中充滿這些提問時,有人以其智慧解答。與成長同行的卡內基負責人黑幼龍先生告訴我們「禮貌」與「溝通」實為一體兩面,而「笑容」永遠是與人在一起的不二法門。永保赤子心的藝人陶大偉,以其一貫幽默的方式笑談「說Hi,很簡單」!日本年輕創作者青木由香深受台灣喜愛,她講的故事讓台灣與日本重新看待什麼是「有禮」與「無禮」。甲骨文專家雷煥章主講「禮貌考古學」,教我們如何延續老祖宗的智慧。最後,台北捷運發言人趙雄飛先生與我們分享「捷運心文化」的果實…

給人一個微笑、一份善意,再加上同理心吧。在這個極度複雜的世界,相信我們最需要學習的是從「心」出發,如此「禮」將描繪出文明社會中真誠、單純而自然的人性面貌。

人籟邀您加入「心禮貌運動」,讓我們從現在開始!

附加的多媒體:
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Friday, 28 March 2008

你我都是陈冠希

媒体私刑绝对不等于言论自由。如果无法看清这两者的差别,你我都有可能成为下一个陈冠希。

李礼君 撰文

香港艺人陈冠希私照外流风波似乎已渐平息。然而,被此案卷入的艺人遭到换角、广告被撤之类事件仍时有所闻。况且,根据媒体的报导习惯来判断,此案免不了日后又被端出来冷菜热炒一番,再配上几道「欲照一览表」之类的可口小点,届时又可猎得许多眼球。另外,最近送修电脑的人想必得先好好研究一下资料加密的技术…
当然,没有人想成为下一个陈冠希。但事实上,正是我们共同创造了陈冠希,而后又合力摧毁了陈冠希。
私照外流的第一周,「你抓到几张?」成了众多网友的问候语。只要在网站或部落格摆上陈的名字,点击率便迅速冲破百万。就在陈宣布退出演艺圈之时,他的千张裸照已被制成光碟在纽约、深圳、加拿大等地华人社区热卖,「制作成本低廉,在华埠却可卖到二十元美金。」(注)媒体记者们更是充分发挥「回收再利用」的精神,将网上搜寻到的裸照大喇喇地放上版面,反正打了马赛克,套上几个「疑似」、「据传」的开头语,再摆上几个吸引窥淫目光的耸动标题,不愁不成为报刊架上的抢手货。
在这个舆论至上、讯息爆炸的时代里,「多数」便是正义。只要人数够多,随时可以把任何人抓来游街示众。不需要审判,更不需要法律。
许多不同的文化都有「私刑」存在。例如中国古代,通奸女子的刑罚(如吊打、活埋、浸猪笼等)常由宗族执行,且多有「示众」的规定。十九世纪末叶的美国,私刑常被用来对付黑人,直到上世纪六○年代才渐消失。私刑的存在,正是「多数暴力」的展现:在众人的围观、默许甚至参与下,对「罪人」施以酷刑。
在二十一世纪的今日,私刑转换了面貌,以一种更加隐晦、不见血且「不在场」的方式被执行。在道德的大旗下,黏上一层商业利益的标签,以消费的方式堂皇进行。围观者不须听见受刑者的哭号,也不必被迫向罪人投石,只要愉悦地消费这些八卦资讯,在众家媒体的通力围剿下,哪个罪人敢不乖乖俯首认罪?
当然,我们可以对陈冠希及众女星的私生活嗤之以鼻,但这并不表示他们的人权理应遭受践踏。如果他们伤风败俗,那么将这些照片四处转贴的千万网民该当何罪?如果陈辜负了大众对「偶像」的期待,那么,又是谁将陈塑造成一个偶像?不就是那些镇日追逐偶像新闻的「粉丝」吗?再看看那些对外籍配偶、外劳充满歧视意味的新闻标题吧。被施以私刑的对象,也常与大众对弱势者的刻板印象有关。媒体很难负起教育大众的职责,因为他们乐于做个媚俗的打手。
媒体私刑绝对不等于言论自由。如果无法看清这两者的差别,你我都有可能成为下一个陈冠希──即使我们不是明星。

注:请见《星岛日报》2月26日报导。

附加的多媒体:
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Friday, 28 March 2008

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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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

你我都是陳冠希

媒體私刑絕對不等於言論自由。如果無法看清這兩者的差別,你我都有可能成為下一個陳冠希。

李禮君 撰文

香港藝人陳冠希私照外流風波似乎已漸平息。然而,被此案捲入的藝人遭到換角、廣告被撤之類事件仍時有所聞。況且,根據媒體的報導習慣來判斷,此案免不了日後又被端出來冷菜熱炒一番,再配上幾道「慾照一覽表」之類的可口小點,屆時又可獵得許多眼球。另外,最近送修電腦的人想必得先好好研究一下資料加密的技術…
當然,沒有人想成為下一個陳冠希。但事實上,正是我們共同創造了陳冠希,而後又合力摧毀了陳冠希。
私照外流的第一週,「你抓到幾張?」成了眾多網友的問候語。只要在網站或部落格擺上陳的名字,點擊率便迅速衝破百萬。就在陳宣布退出演藝圈之時,他的千張裸照已被製成光碟在紐約、深圳、加拿大等地華人社區熱賣,「製作成本低廉,在華埠卻可賣到二十元美金。」(註)媒體記者們更是充分發揮「回收再利用」的精神,將網上搜尋到的裸照大喇喇地放上版面,反正打了馬賽克,套上幾個「疑似」、「據傳」的開頭語,再擺上幾個吸引窺淫目光的聳動標題,不愁不成為報刊架上的搶手貨。
在這個輿論至上、訊息爆炸的時代裡,「多數」便是正義。只要人數夠多,隨時可以把任何人抓來遊街示眾。不需要審判,更不需要法律。
許多不同的文化都有「私刑」存在。例如中國古代,通姦女子的刑罰(如吊打、活埋、浸豬籠等)常由宗族執行,且多有「示眾」的規定。十九世紀末葉的美國,私刑常被用來對付黑人,直到上世紀六○年代才漸消失。私刑的存在,正是「多數暴力」的展現:在眾人的圍觀、默許甚至參與下,對「罪人」施以酷刑。
在二十一世紀的今日,私刑轉換了面貌,以一種更加隱晦、不見血且「不在場」的方式被執行。在道德的大旗下,黏上一層商業利益的標籤,以消費的方式堂皇進行。圍觀者不須聽見受刑者的哭號,也不必被迫向罪人投石,只要愉悅地消費這些八卦資訊,在眾家媒體的通力圍剿下,哪個罪人敢不乖乖俯首認罪?
當然,我們可以對陳冠希及眾女星的私生活嗤之以鼻,但這並不表示他們的人權理應遭受踐踏。如果他們傷風敗俗,那麼將這些照片四處轉貼的千萬網民該當何罪?如果陳辜負了大眾對「偶像」的期待,那麼,又是誰將陳塑造成一個偶像?不就是那些鎮日追逐偶像新聞的「粉絲」嗎?再看看那些對外籍配偶、外勞充滿歧視意味的新聞標題吧。被施以私刑的對象,也常與大眾對弱勢者的刻板印象有關。媒體很難負起教育大眾的職責,因為他們樂於做個媚俗的打手。
媒體私刑絕對不等於言論自由。如果無法看清這兩者的差別,你我都有可能成為下一個陳冠希──即使我們不是明星。

註:請見《星島日報》2月26日報導。

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/lijun_chenkuanchi.jpg{/rokbox}

Friday, 29 February 2008

Air-conditioned Democracy

The debate between Ma Yin-jeou and Hsieh Chang-ting on the Taiwanese TV channels, held February 24, was a non-event. Not only because we did not learn anything new about the program of the two candidates or their personalities, but also because of the format of the debate itself: twenty citizens had videotaped their questions, aired during the debate, and the candidates were informed in advance of the content of these questions. Therefore, it was more like an exam in which cheating is allowed…

We meet here with a paradox: allowing (carefully selected) citizens to air their views and concerns might look like an exercise in direct participation, making the debate more grassroots. And this is partly true, as questions on the environment, the judicial system and other everyday issues were prominent. However, this kind of “YouTube democracy" is obviously very artificial, bordering on manipulation. No surprise is to be expected, there are no experienced journalists for testing the candidates’ reactions - and carefully scripted answers do not teach much to the audience.

A democratic debate is to be based on surprise, direct contact, inventiveness... it does not have to be an exercise in memory power, but rather on character strength and imagination. Indeed, we are not only testing programs, but inner character and capacity for reaction and judgment as well. In that respect, one has to recognize that the American primaries do fulfill such a role – at least they do so this year…

Gadgets such as videotaped questions are not vital to democracy. Actually, nothing would be more dangerous than to go towards a kind of “virtualization” of the democratic process. We need to directly relate to our candidates and to assess them as real men and women whom we can or can’t trust. So far, the presidential campaign in Taiwan has failed the test: media reporting was not helpful. Debates have proven to be even less so.


Friday, 29 February 2008

Air-conditioned Democracy

The debate between Ma Yin-jeou and Hsieh Chang-ting on the Taiwanese TV channels, held February 24, was a non-event. Not only because we did not learn anything new about the program of the two candidates or their personalities, but also because of the format of the debate itself: twenty citizens had videotaped their questions, aired during the debate, and the candidates were informed in advance of the content of these questions. Therefore, it was more like an exam in which cheating is allowed…

We meet here with a paradox: allowing (carefully selected) citizens to air their views and concerns might look like an exercise in direct participation, making the debate more grassroots. And this is partly true, as questions on the environment, the judicial system and other everyday issues were prominent. However, this kind of “YouTube democracy" is obviously very artificial, bordering on manipulation. No surprise is to be expected, there are no experienced journalists for testing the candidates’ reactions - and carefully scripted answers do not teach much to the audience.

A democratic debate is to be based on surprise, direct contact, inventiveness... it does not have to be an exercise in memory power, but rather on character strength and imagination. Indeed, we are not only testing programs, but inner character and capacity for reaction and judgment as well. In that respect, one has to recognize that the American primaries do fulfill such a role – at least they do so this year…

Gadgets such as videotaped questions are not vital to democracy. Actually, nothing would be more dangerous than to go towards a kind of “virtualization” of the democratic process. We need to directly relate to our candidates and to assess them as real men and women whom we can or can’t trust. So far, the presidential campaign in Taiwan has failed the test: media reporting was not helpful. Debates have proven to be even less so.


Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Election That Nearly Everybody Lost

Once upon a time it was election year. The two major political parties were gearing up for the fall campaign. There were five issues that everybody considered important. The White Party was currently in power. They insisted that on every issue the status quo was right on track. They claimed that everyone should vote for them to make sure that nothing would change. The Black Party was the opposition party. They claimed that on every issue the status quo was deficient. They insisted that everybody should vote for them, so that everything could be changed.

Except for a few die-hards on both sides, nobody believed that on every issue everything was OK the way it was and nobody believed that on every issue there was nothing that was OK the way it was. So one day someone proposed a Gray Party. It would change only the issues that needed change and leave the rest the way they were. It looked for a moment that everyone would flock to that party. But the idea quickly fizzled out. It was impossible to reach a common agreement on which issues to change or how they should change.

Consequently, each party was flooded with candidates. Each campaigned on the one issue they considered most important to protect or the one most necessary to change. There were fierce national debates and fortunes were spent on advertising. On primary election days the turnouts reached record-breaking highs.

To everyone’s surprise, the candidates selected at the national conventions were those originally least expected to win. They were the only ones who had campaigned with no platform at all. They had only promised that the traditional values of their parties would guide them in making the right decisions at the right time.

The candidates of the Black and White Parties ran neck to neck in all the polls right up to election day eve. The only trend in the polls had been that more and more of the electorate were undecided. Bookies were raking in millions of dollars in wagers. Tensions were high.

The whole world anxiously held its breath in front of its television screens. Watching the election returns, they couldn’t believe their eyes. Neither major candidate won. There had been a maverick Senator who ran in every election as an Independent. This time in the closing weeks of the campaign he had repeated ad nauseam a single message: “If you can’t decide which party to vote for, vote for me. I embody the best of both parties.” He must have hit a nerve because he narrowly squeaked out a victory by winning well in a few key areas that had been undecided.


There are lessons hidden here.

If you can’t beat them, don’t join them,
just wait until they join you.


Don’t count your votes before they’re cast.

There is nothing all white
and nothing all black.
There is nothing gray
without its share of black and white.

It is impossible to vote for the best,
because usually the best
are not up for election.

And even if they were,
how would you know that they are the best,
if they haven’t been elected yet.

An election is like a lottery,
because you never know who is going to win.

An election is never like a lottery,
because it is not left to chance.

It’s nice if your candidate wins,
but the country doesn’t lose
if someone else is elected.

Attached media :
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Thursday, 21 February 2008

Me and my vote

One of the hallmarks of democracy as described by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address is that it is a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. “Of the people”, that is, not just the nobility or some privileged class, but potentially everybody; “by the people”, that is, it is the people through their representatives who plan the policies, make the decisions and carry out the policies; “for the people”, that is, for the benefit of all, not just the rich or those in power.

Of course, no democracy would work if it required the full participation of all the people all the time. It would be far too unwieldly, impractical, time-consuming and difficult to arrive at consensus. The work of the government is conducted by representatives of the people who have given them the authority to act on their behalf according to the directives of the constitution and legislation.

There are three important ingredients without which a democratic nation cannot survive or function, namely suffrage, consensus, and acquiescence.

Suffrage: the right to vote. If the people do not have the right to vote, then it is no longer a government of the people but a dictatorship. But not every election is democratic. Dictators love to hold elections in which the only candidate is themselves or their specially selected supporters and the elected are free to vote “yes” and subject to retaliation if they vote “no”. The people have not really spoken; they have only listened and submitted to what they heard.

A potential weakness of the right to vote is the right not to vote. If too many of the electorate are disinterested or indifferent or too busy about their own affairs or disgusted with politics, then the door is left open for determined minorities to wield too much power or for entrenched cliques to maintain their control. If I as a responsible citizen want to exercise my duty to vote, then I also have the responsibility to keep abreast of current events and study the issues so I can vote intelligently for what I believe will be best for the nation.

Another potential weakness of the voting system is that sometimes the most qualified or potentially best leaders are not the ones who end up on the ballots. They were overwhelmed by those who had more influential supporters or more funds for advertising or more aggressive killer instincts. Too many of the little people like ourselves were silent.

Consensus: the election returns are accepted as final. The winners take up the duties for which they were selected, regardless of whatever party they represent or their stand regarding the party in power. The people have spoken and the government has listened.

Acquiescence: the results are accepted and cooperated with even by those who voted against them. Those who lose step down. Any new regulations or policies will be accepted even by those who voted against them. Opposition will not cease, nor will controversy or debate, but in the meantime everyone is moving forward in the same direction.

The important thing about a true democracy is not that everyone gets the government they want, the representatives they personally supported or the policies they hold most dear, but that everyone stands behind their elected government and works together for the common good.

What is the use of voting, if I know that I will probably be outvoted? It is because I know that if enough of all the other people who think as I do also vote, our votes might make a difference. And those who are in power or want to be in power will know that they have to take our points of view into consideration, because we will always be there with our vote.
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Bob also wrote a fable on elections

Attached media :
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Monday, 28 January 2008

地圖為誰說話?

Nakao Eki 撰文

《地圖會說話》
李文堯、林心雅著
時報出版
2007年11月

誠如作者在序言中引用美國Mark Monmonier教授的《如何用地圖撒謊》(How to Lie with Maps, 1996)所言,地圖雖然號稱是現實世紀的反映,卻從不曾真的忠實反映過現實世界,但永遠都誠實體現了製圖者的意念(註)。地圖就像繪畫,是以某種技巧來表達製圖者理解、詮釋世界的觀點。箇中最大的差異,在於繪畫被人視為藝術,是畫家個人意念與情感的表達,但地圖卻被視為科學的產物;而在我們這個將科學當作一種信仰來崇奉、榮耀歸於諾貝爾獎得主的時代裡,對「科學」的客觀性或權威性深信不疑(甚或敬畏),對於一個人的思考與判斷所具有的殺傷力堪稱無與倫比。
《地圖會說話》旨在以輕鬆的方式呈現許多研究者曾提出的觀念和反思。作者以各種不同類型的地圖陳述不同的主題,並且交代背後的科學,在許多環節上,都致力於邀請讀者一同認識地圖的多種語言、掌握不同地圖語言背後的邏輯,從而能夠更為自由地將地圖作為認識的工具而加以運用。但其實這本書恰好也是這些批判言論的例示之一。因為地圖事實上並不會說話,是人在替代地圖說話;即便讀者「知道」地圖表現中偏見必不可免,但箇中奧妙究竟何在,卻遠非多數讀者所能辨識,往往還是只能接受製圖者或界說者所提出的詮釋。
舉例而言,本書第五部分(氣候與環境)談到了全球暖化等氣候議題。雖然地圖本身呈現的是資訊,但搭上說明文字,這些篇章都成了警訊,提醒我們人類活動對自然引發的惡果。主流看法認為全球暖化現象罪咎在人,但也有學者指稱自然因素才是氣候變遷的主因。用一種犬儒方式來說:環境主義者有言,人類要在大自然面前學會謙卑;那麼,按照這個邏輯,人第一不該自大到以為人類活動的影響會大過太陽輻射或地磁變化,第二至少也不該特重二氧化碳減量排放的國際宣傳和政治角力,畢竟牛羊打嗝或放屁所釋出的甲烷(比二氧化碳有效二十倍的溫室氣體)到底對全球升溫有多少影響,科學界也一樣沒有定論。
簡單地說,所謂將地圖解碼,其實是拿文字語言在為地圖語言加密,當中頗不乏俗語所稱的「越描越黑」效應。有一陳腔濫調說,歷史為勝者所寫就。那地圖呢?──地圖說話,說人叫它說的話。

------------------------
註 這一點並不新鮮,在Monmonier的書出版之前數年,Denis Wood便在《地圖的權力》(The Power of Maps, 1992)中指出,關於地圖,最難以理解掌握的並不是製圖方法或量測工具,也不是複雜的地形地貌或關於其他任何主題的數據資訊,而是製圖者的偏見。
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附加的多媒體:
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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The Justice-Mongers

Here is a fable that I wrote that illustrates some of the issues involved in establishing justice.


THE JUSTICE-MONGERS


Once upon a time there was a King bright, industrious, and prosperous. He was the legendary King ABC. Everyone seemed to agree that he was a very good man. But the King himself didn’t think he was just good, he thought he was the best. The only persons he thought were good were those who liked what he liked, agreed with his opinions and did what he told them to do. Everyone else was bad. If only he could, ABC would get rid of them all. That way the whole world would only be filled with little ABC’s with him at the top, of course.

When King ABC’s wife finally became pregnant, he was filled with pride. “When my son is born, he will be twice as good as I am,” he said. But he was wrong for once. It was three times as good. His wife gave birth to triplets. He named them Triple A, Triple B and Triple C. They grew up determined to do good and to better the world.

All three sons hated war and violence. They were convinced that wars only happen because everyone wants peace the wrong way. Everyone thinks the only way to get peace is to fight for it and then fight to defend it. This has got to stop. There must be some way to make peace permanent without fighting. But each son proposed a different way of obtaining peace.

To Triple A the key to peace and prosperity was law and order. What the world needs are explicit rules and regulations very strictly enforced with no exceptions. Everybody will know exactly what to do and what not to do. And everyone who doesn’t conform will be tried and put in jail.

War was now illegal. There was no longer any need for armed forces to guard against attack. But the number of policemen grew by leaps and bounds. It wasn’t because there were more criminals or gangsters than before. It was just that there were too many regulations governing people’s lives, stifling their self-expression, restraining their aspirations and restricting their individuality and ambitions. Almost every time anyone wanted to have a good time their own way or do things differently, they found themselves arrested for some violation or other.

The more that Triple A maintained peace between nations the more difficult it became to maintain peace within the nation. Discontent and protests erupted everywhere. Soon they got out of hand and had to be put down violently. “When we do it, it isn’t violence,” a government spokesman said. “It’s enforcement.” The people yearned for the good old days. Life was so much more peaceful at home when there had been wars.

To Triple B the key to peace was justice for all. The problem was in determining in each instance where justice lay. Therefore the first thing the government had to do was to establish a long official list of people’s rights. Then it was decided that in every dispute, there would be compulsory arbitration and the decision of the mediators would be final. Justice was now defined officially as whatever the arbiters decreed. Everyone was expected to swallow his pride and humbly accept the official decisions no matter how arbitrary or unreasonable or unjust in the old sense they might be.

The results of Triple B’s policy were just as catastrophic. Everyone felt there was less justice now than in the former unjust times.

To Triple C the key to peace was equality for all. Some people have too much and don’t share with those who have nothing. Some people dress so attractively they make others look bad. The world would be more peaceful if everyone automatically got the same education, received the same salary and had the same opportunities to enjoy the fine things in life. Uniformity of dress and appearance, of language and culture, of dwellings and food, of sports and entertainment would restrain the proud and uplift the humble.

The only ones who applauded these changes were those who had absolutely nothing to begin with. Most of the people, however, had to give up something to conform to the norms and they were very unhappy. The only way the government found to maintain the new order was to create a police state.

So unfortunately, Triple C’s equality and uniformity did not create peace either. Equal education did not produce equally intelligent people. Equal opportunity did not mean equally qualified persons applied for the jobs. There were no longer good movies, only mediocre ones, and so on and so on. Everyone missed the variety and personal touches of their former lives.

King ABC was displeased with the way his three sons had messed things up. He decided to have another son. He named him Double D, since just a single D didn’t do justice to his hopes for him.

To Double D his three older brothers were all wrong. The key to peace is freedom. There will only be peace if everyone is free to be what he wants to be and to do whatever he wants to do. Of course, there must be some guidelines and some limits to what a person does, so the rights of others are respected, but let individuality reign.

If everyone is free to achieve his dreams and fulfill his aspirations, there will be peace. No one will lack anything and therefore have nothing that he needs to fight for. The talented must be free to develop their talents. The gifted must be free to exploit their gifts. The poor must be free to better their lives. The rich must be free to spend their riches however they like. Only the criminals will not be free to be criminal.

But Double D overlooked one important consideration. What happens when two or three persons are free to want something that only one of them can have? People soon found they weren’t free to get all the things they were free to want. There were winners and losers. The winners gloated to be free. The losers complained their freedom was violated. Soon it began to look like the most common freedom of all was freedom to be unhappy and disappointed. People longed for the good old days when not everything was free.

Disappointed, for one last time King ABC had another son. He named him E, just a single E. “That’s enough sons for me,” he said. “He’s the last. If he can’t remedy his brothers’ mistakes, then no one can.”

When E finally came of age his key to peace was fourfold. He advocated and promoted Reconciliation, Openness, Tolerance and Responsibility. Prince E was wise and pragmatic. “We do need law and order, but it needs to be flexible. Justice is important, too, but must be balanced with mercy and forgiveness. Equal rights are necessary, but each person’s uniqueness and personal qualities must be recognized and allowed to develop and enfold. Freedom there must be, but it must include freedom from its abuses.”

Not everyone was happy with the new order of things, but enough people were to make it work. And so once again for a while, the peace in the land was worth fighting for. But since no one wanted to take it away, there was nothing to go to war about.

There are lessons hidden here.

Laws should not tell us what to do,
but how to live and protect our freedom.

Justice without freedom is slavery.
Freedom without justice is chaos.
Justice without mercy is cruelty.
Mercy without justice is impotence.

There will never be a perfect world,
because no one is perfect.

There will always be rivalries and competition, winners and losers.
All we can do is to try our best
to balance the world in which we live
so everyone gets a fair share of what he or she needs
and a chance to realize what he or she wants.

Attached media :
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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Mercyful Justice and Judicious Mercy

There has always been tension between the demands of justice and calls for forgiveness and between the straight and narrow bounds of justice and the leeways of charity. Just trying to draw the fine line between justice and injustice is problem enough. Justice is measured by conformity to some norm of what is right and proper or tied to provisions specified in a rule of law, but there has never been universal agreement about those norms nor any uniform set of law.
Besides defining what is just, there is the matter of enforcing it and punishing infractions of it. For the whole system to be just, there must be some just restraint, so that no more is demanded than what is strictly just, the enforcement respects all the rights of the individuals involved and the retribution is in proportion to the circumstances of the violation. If into this pot is added the dizzying often contradictory coercions of religious beliefs, interpretations and practices, the vast inconsistencies and contradictions of contemporary legal systems, the pride, enmity, vengeance, greed, criminal intents of many of those responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of justice, then it is a wonder that any justice manages to prevail at all.
There are two images of justice that come to my mind. The first is that of a blindfolded lady, who presumably is not influenced or coerced by bribery or friendship, but just makes her judgment based only on the facts. A noble idea, but how can she see the facts or recognize the deceptions or the true claims of the claimants if her eyes are closed? She has to weigh what she hears and investigate what she is shown before any impartial determination can be made.
The second image is also of a lady, this time balancing the two sides of a scale. Justice is presumably reached when the two sides are exactly balanced. But this supposes that in the pan on one side is nothing more than the bare unbiased demands of justice and on the other side nothing more than the honest unbiased actual realities of the case. A noble idea, but this seems to leave no room or place for forgiveness or mercy or charity or lenience. It is an accurate description of how the discernment of what is just should be reached, but in real life, that is often only the first step in the execution of justice. And in real life, the issues are not always so clear: the evidence may be only circumstantial, vital facts may be missing, or there are contradictory witnesses, so the very balancing act is arbitrary and not absolute.
Following the judgment comes the determination of retribution and/or punishment. This is where the elements of charity, forgiveness, mercy, severity or leniency or even full pardon come in. In a certain sense, if the judgment is truly just than any tampering or mitigation of its demands is in some way unjust. But what if the most important thing is not a harsh slap on the wrist for wrongdoing, but what is best for the guilty person, offering hope of improvement and more positive ways of making up for what has happened? It is often expedient for the good of individuals or the public welfare for the judge to look beyond the bare letter of the law. This is not easy, neither is it always successful. There are many instances in which leniency or kindness backfired and the transgressor went on to further transgressions, but this is far outweighed in the many cases of those whose lives were transformed by the charity and goodwill of those they injured.
This being the case, judges and the victims should always be more like God Himself, who is as ready to exact or demand justice as He is to grant mercy and forgiveness, most of the time combining both.

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/Li-Chun_justice.jpg{/rokbox}

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