Archives for category: Open Debate

It’s an old saying: “One man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.”

 It brings up the question, “What exactly IS terrorism?” The general definition states that terrorism is the use of violence for political ends. That’s…quite broad. According to that definition the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism. Then… is terrorism the purposeful targeting of civilians? Most of 20th century warfare would be considered terrorism. The bombing in WWII and Vietnam was committed in order to “demoralize the enemy:” the enemy being everybody including civilians who contributed to the opposition’s war effort.

Western countries of course conveniently excuse their own actions saying that terrorism is a crime of non-state entities. That argument ignores the word’s very own origin. Terrorism derives from the French word, terrorisme, which referred to violence officially sanctioned by the state against its own citizens.

Of course the same holds true for the other side. Those that are labeled as terrorists consider themselves to be freedom fighters. They feel they must resort to immoral actions out of necessity. The sheer power of the enemy renders military confrontation useless. The only option is to create an atmosphere of fear that will deter military action.

By expressing his or her anger and bitterness, the freedom fighter hopes to inspire others within their community to take up the cause and at the same time demoralize the enemy. There’s a risk that the enemy might retaliate. However, severe retaliation will only create more followers of the cause. 

In the end “terrorist” and “freedom fighter” are merely political terms. The good guys are “freedom fighters”; the bad guys are “terrorists.” This holds true regardless of which side one supports. This is why “-ism” words are so useless. Their meaning depends on the person using them. Terrorist or freedom fighter: Does it matter? Either way the result is killing. Whether that killing is justified is determined by the one who holds the power… 

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What can you learn about a person just from their language?
Is language a key component of… identity?
What happens when a language dies?

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In the world today exist six languages of Celtic origin. These are divided into two classes: Brythonic and Goedelic.

Brythonic: Welsh, Breton, Cornish
Goedelic: Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Manx

Of the following only the Welsh language is not considered endangered. This point brings me to the debate topic. What if anything should be done to preserve endangered languages?

Supporters of preservation argue that the loss of languages represents a loss of identity and a reduction in linguistic diversity. They believe that when a language dies generations of human knowledge and thinking dies with it. Opponents however argue that a reduction of languages is a good thing because communication, understanding and social advancement are facilitated when the people share a common language.

Welsh has evaded the same fate because the residents of Wales are compelled to learn the language. However, this can build up bitterness in students. They may not feel any attachment to the Welsh community and feel that another language would suit them better. 

My opinion is that Welsh is being perpetuated artificially rather than organically. The fact that many of the children must be forced to learn it when most of them favor English when speaking is troubling to me. That is the path to becoming a symbolic rather than a living language much like Latin for the Catholic Church.

I also don’t like the idea of saving languages just because they’re unique. People are not zoo animals or endangered species. They make their own decisions. As a society our duty is to ensure that decision is not the consequence of oppression.

Some of the supporting arguments can be, in my opinion, disturbing. How many of you have heard the statement, “These languages can tell us of medicines and plants that the Western world doesn’t know of.” That attitude just reeks of exploitation to me, just in a more subtle form.

I think the death of languages is more a troubling symptom of a larger problem than a tragic thing in and of itself. Usually it signifies the breakdown of a community. A language in a healthy community will perpetuate itself even when exposed to outside forces. The connection between generations will be maintained organically. Nothing compulsory need be introduced because language is just a tool that facilitates interaction and communication. When that tool fails it is disposed of. That is reality.

This is not the rant of an English nationalist. I love languages. I know English, German, and Spanish to varying degrees. I have also experienced language loss first-hand. My knowledge of German, a language I have known since birth, withered from lack of use. In the U.S. there was no community that encouraged it, so I lost much of it.

Some would say that losing German signifies a loss of my identity. But my identity is not concerned with any one language. My identity is concerned with people whether they speak English, German, Spanish, or any other language.

What do you have to say?

Do You Believe in Aliens?

I absolutely believe, somewhere among the billions of undiscovered planets, aliens exist.

Do I believe that they have visited Earth? No.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that I believe people who claim otherwise are lying. I think they are simply mistaken. Things seem different at night than in broad daylight. Our mind transforms the world around us, and we become more receptive to the idea of otherworldly phenomenon.

Imagine this scenario. It’s dark and late. You are near a forest, where our primeval fears dwell. The moon or perhaps a flashlight are the only sources of light. Things appear indistinct and different. Suddenly you hear a rustle behind you. You turn around only to catch a glimpse of large eyes set in a gray inhuman face. Startled, you run. That creature, you think when you reflect back on the incident, couldn’t possibly be Earthly.

Yet, what you saw was merely a common barn owl.

Or take claims of Alien Abduction. The common elements are almost always paralysis, a strange environment, and fear. I do not doubt that such incidents feel real to those who experience them. Yet, alien abduction? You’d think there’d be some sort of evidence if spaceships were landing on Earth and aliens were collecting specimens.

The more likely explanation: sleep paralysis. With this condition, you regain consciousness in your own dreams. As you can imagine the sensation is terrifying for those afflicted.

As for the Roswell Incident…well, a crash is reported at an Army Air Field at the start of the Cold War. I think the answer to that is obvious.

However, life beyond our world is a tantalizing concept. I’d be curious to see the unique life forms that have developed on strange worlds, the unique civilizations. We can’t possibly be the only ones here. Of course it’s human nature to seek companionship and to explain the unknown. But on that note, here’s a little food for thought…

What do you think?

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