Veena Babulal, one of the more promising of a new generation of journalists in South East Asia, is a reporter for the largest national daily in Malaysia, the New Straits Times. Her recent story, “ELECTION 2008: BN novice confident of bigger win,” is the product of her first election as a reporter. Supporters of the free press around the world are a little more hopeful when they know there are those working within systems that have flaws, recognize those flaws, and are committed to changing them in a way that benefits all.
The fact that US defense secretary Robert Gates is in Jarkarta right now makes all the more urgent the need for America and Indonesia to forge strong new ties and reinvigorate old ones. This was outlined in my piece in last weekâ€™s Asian American Press, where I argued that the Indonesian peopleâ€™s interest in what they hope could be a new generation in American politics could be opening a window to cultural, political and economic flows that will help shape the new global landscape. That window could very well close, however, and the fact is that the same window is also open to
Oh, the places I’ve been. The trees are not quite so green as this photo might lead one to believe… at least not at the moment. Give the snow a chance to melt. One day again we will ride our bikes down to the bridge and dive in the slimy waters, desperately waiting the hot July sun for the beautiful, bored city-girl to wander down to the local hang out on Rush Lake, uninterested in the fishing and bbq’ing of the rest of her family, at the cabin for the weekend.
For a long time, itâ€™s been OK to indulge in the comfort of mediocrity. A long period of prosperity has made it all too easy to settle into a full time, five day work week, not getting rich or changing the world, but living a very happy life. However, the recent economic shakeup, as well as the ever more apparent arrival of what many are now recognizing as the end of an American gilded age, seems to have shaken our mass psychology. To be mediocre is to perpetuate the status quo, and anxiety that the status quo equals a steady decline seems to grow each day.
Thatâ€™s one of the reasons that us Minnesotans love the winter. Take the arctic blast that snuck across the US-Canadian border this past week, fifty below wind chills disrupting daily routines and shutting down highways. And yet, people could not be happier. It is a relief, in fact, to have â€œthe struggleâ€ so easily defined, to have the opportunity to overcome, to face a challenger that is unambiguous. Simply surviving weather that is literally, physically dangerous is a virtue in itself, launching each and every person who dares the wind out of their mortal mediocrity and into a realm of greatness. Indeed, this past Saturday night was much busier than it was a week ago, when it was much milder, people going out for a movie or meeting friends for a drink, many of them purposely leaving their stocking caps in the car.
Removing the ambiguity from that â€œstruggleâ€ is intoxicating, for in reality most are uncertain exactly what to do. There is a general feeling that the comfort of existence is threatened, that as we are standing still there are other forces working to undermine Americaâ€™s global dominance, masses of people that we cannot see and do not understand that are getting smarter, working harder, and about to do everything that we do better and faster. Without clear direction, the weight of anxiety pushes down on everything, making each thought and action vital yet somehow desperate, even futile.
Mediocrity is death. Numb at first, then very achy, and then, well, consider euthanasia. Even this yearâ€™s presidential politics and the massive social mood swings they ignite are manifesting mediocre anxiety. Without â€œchange,â€ without leadership and policy that is truly progressive and wonderful and focused,
As the global dominance of the
ÂThe world, and Indonesians in particular, are more eager than in a long time to build ties with
It is peripheral states, like
In a recent article in the New York Times, Parag Khanna writes about the importance of â€œsecond worldâ€ countries in determining the shape of the new global power structure. â€œLying alongside and in between the Big Three, second-world countries are the swing states that will determine which of the superpowers has the upper hand for the next generation of geopolitics,â€ he writes.