How does current money/economic system control your life & this world in ways that are systematically unhealthy?

Have you watched this yet?
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: How does current money/economic system control your life & this world in a way that is at it’s core is systematically unhealthy? What alternative economic systems might actually promote health, peace, social good?


(It’s 2+ hrs, but worth more than most movies you may take time to watch in the theater)

Would love your thoughts.
As I am interested in Peace (personal and global), the end of Poverty, more international collaboration, and innovation that benefits us all — It seems critical to find ways to make economic system support these kinds of things.

What do you think? What is your reaction?

News from Brussels – Questions for You and the E.U. that can change the future!

News from Brussels – Questions for You and the E.U. that can change the future!

Do You believe certain questions can lead to a better future?Dr Clint Rogers presenting at E.U./ACP Stakeholder meeting in Brussels
After presenting at the ACP House in Brussels, heart of the European Union, to delegates from around the world yesterday, in this video I asked some questions to that I hope have that effect. See what you think…

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What are your thoughts?

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From Ghana – Top 7 Reasons Why Most ICT4D Projects FAIL

Faculty and professionals from around Africa share their insights on the Top 7 Reasons Why Most development efforts using ICT (Information and Communication Technology) fail.

Below are some of the Key Questions from this video — please share Your thoughts too!

(Most of it was filmed from Winneba, Ghana, during the ICT4D Poverty Reduction Summit)


(To view the video above, you need to be on an Internet connection that allows access to YouTube.)

Questions for Reflection:
– Do you think the things you are doing will still have value in 10 years? What about 100 years?
– Do you really understand the context, and the key elements of the system you are trying to intervene in?
– Are you involving End-Users in the whole process, from Idea to Evaluation?
– Do You View Yourself as “Helping Poor People” vs “Partnering with and Learning from Rich People”?

Questions for Discussion — What are Your thoughts:
– Do You think Most ICT4D Projects Fail?
– If so, why do You think they Fail?
– In Your opinion, what are Elements of ICT4D Projects that “Work”?

What is it about You as a human that makes You close, and what makes You open?

What is it about human nature that often makes it difficult for us to enter a place of uncertainty or at least openness to listen & learn without needing to so quickly prove & convince? What do You think it is that might allow You to open vs close?

I went to a protestant Christian church today where they had invited a man from Pakistan to speak about Islam.

He did a great job of emphasizing how Islam stands for peace, how Judaism, Christianity and Islam are historically three branches of the same tree, and a beautiful job of resolving some potential misunderstandings while establishing common ground. He spoke of the love he felt from Christians that he could take back and speak about.

Almost immediately after, there was a man who got up to establish clearly the differences between the faiths, and to reinforce his own belief in Christianity as what he saw as a clearly superior choice.

Try to reserve judgment and just observe human nature with me. Both had courage to speak in the ways they did.

Still, whatever the context, it seems as if humans need to have some sense of Significance and Certainty. When put in a religious context, and the feeling is that salvation is at stake, perhaps emotions run a little more raw – but it still seems to be need for significance and certainty that drives a lot of the behavior.

What is it about human nature that often makes it difficult for us to enter a place of uncertainty or at least openness to listen & learn without needing to so quickly prove & convince?

From Dubai & New York – How do we respond in moments of crises?

From Dubai & New York – How do we respond in moments of crises?

Greetings from Dubai! Clint Rogers In Dubai

I’m struck by how much it has changed since last time I was here about 2 years ago.

Everything from the world’s most expensive hotel to the world’s tallest building all leave a distinct impression of Awe – especially considering about 50 years ago this was all simply desert.

This world is such a fascinating place, and I am growing to love its people all over more and more. I’m so grateful to live in it and be a small part of learning with You about it all.

I flew here from New York, where I shot this short clip at “Ground Zero”

Description:
From “Ground Zero” New York City, Dr. Clint Rogers talks about the Moments of Crises we all will face, asking what will be brought out of us in those times? How will you respond in moments of crises?

He also asks what your view is of human nature – are you optimistic that things are getting better, or are you worried things will get worse?

And most importantly, what is your part in the whole – what is Your Compelling Future, what are you willing and excited to live for and create?

Birthday Greetings – Creating a New Reality

Thank you all my friends, family, and colleagues who have wished me a happy birthday, or simply been a happy part of my life!
I’m feeling blessed to know you.

On the airplane to Orlando today I created this short 1 minute video clip for you:

If things like countries are inventions of the human mind, what other kinds of things could we as humans envision and create together?
What reality can we imagine which could lead to a healthier more sustainable world?

What kind of a reality would you like to believe that we could imagine? (funny or real) 🙂

Or even better, as we are still enough to listen deeply, what kind of different reality and dreams do we allow to come through us?

(As my friend Dr. Naram beautifully pointed out to me, when the water is still, we can see our reflection in it — and as we are still, we get a better sense for who we really are and what we are here to do, as well as being given the power to do it. Not for our own ego, but out of a place of love and gratitude.)

What are we?

Here’s a couple of questions for your Tuesday morning:

Are we anything more than the sum of our experiences?

If we were really good at measurement, and could quantify absolutely everything observable about you, would we then perfectly understand you?

The power of stories – a visit to Hollywood

The power of stories – a visit to Hollywood

Clint with DarthIt has been an incredible couple of days here in California (L.A. and San Francisco) — meeting with film makers, Hollywood media people (one man who has interviewed practically everyone famous you can imagine), an incredible speaking and meeting people at Berkeley and Stanford, and then to top it off with a visit to see the inside of George Lucas’ special effects studio — Industrial Light and Magic.Original R2D2

During the visit to this studio, my good friend (who recently won some awards for his work here), showed me some of the original props and special effects workings from movies as old as the original Star Wars, E.T., and Ghost Busters, to as new as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Transformers II.

Other interesting notes and random thoughts…
Yoda
“Who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behavior. It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.” – George Gerbner

Plato said that if he had to choose between controlling the arts or the government, he would chose the arts. He said the government made the rules and enforce people to follow them — but that people willingly internalize and follow the arts.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg — pirates.jpgnormal guys that met in or just after college. They did one thing extraordinarily well — learned how to tell compelling stories. They say George Lucas when a kid was what others might consider a nerd – nose in a book, addicted to science fiction.

World is changing, with technology that exists the barrier of entry is lower in having the power to tell stories and capture attention.

Which makes the following questions that much more urgent and essential:
E.T.
– What impact have these movies had on your life, and on your culture?
– What stories do we want to tell, which frame our view of the world, of each other, and ultimately frame the future?
– In what ways does the new media influence the way that we can tell and receive stories?

Whose need comes first?

A small company in Utah recently went through a few rounds of layoffs. I bet you can repeat along with me how they announced it to employees.

  • It’s nothing personal, but . . .
  • Well, in these tough times sometimes you just have to . . .
  • The reality of 21st century business means we can’t be loyal for loyalty’s sake . . .

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. And I don’t want to come across as hard on them. Of course, sometimes these things are unavoidable.

But a friend of mine, between the second and third rounds of downsizing, decided he wanted to leave on his own terms. He found a great opportunity, and tendered his resignation.

Can you predict how the company reacted?

  • How could you?!?!?!
  • What ever happened to loyalty?!?!?!
  • You have no idea how tough it will be for us to deal with this!!!!
  • Is it really ethical to leave in this economic climate?!?!?

Again, so I don’t come across harsher than I intend, I’m sure they did consider my friend an invaluable asset, and were legitimately scared about what they would do without him. But yes, you read it right. When the company was the one being affected, out came the language of honor, dependability, and fidelity. When they were affecting others, the language was that of formality, neutrality, and everyone-for-themselves. It seems like a law of modern business.

But is it a law that we want to drive our economy? What is it that should drive our economy? Let me postulate that it isn’t the business need, but the human need that should be given priority. After all, weren’t the employees let go also counting on company loyalty? Won’t it be tough for them to deal with being laid off? And (dare I say it?) shouldn’t we think deeply about how ethical it is to let employees go in this economic climate?

This approach to business relations is not only evident in the employer/employee relationship. I’ve also noticed it in the field I’m most familiar with – education. Many schools, including the most prestigious universities, are starting to see themselves as little more than training institutes for big business (Businesses need well-trained employees, don’t they?). But we don’t ask about the consequences for the educational system, or ultimately the students who are being short-changed for life while they are being trained for jobs that might not exist when they graduate. I’ve even heard administrators who are reluctant to try innovative educational practices for fear of how their business partners would react (won’t it make it harder for them to select the most qualified employees?), rather than considering whether the innovation will help students develop into kinder, gentler, more compassionate people.

I want to live in a world where businesses value their employees not because of what those employees can do, but because of who those employees are. I believe that if employees trusted corporations to take care of them, they would take care of the corporation. After all, that’s what good relationships are about, aren’t they? Taking care of each other?

But I also believe there are virtues and behaviors that should be admired for their own merits, and not only when they are instrumental in achieving other, business-driven ends. Treating people right is just the right thing to do, even when it isn’t measurable by the latest Six Sigma Whatever. Aren’t we really interested in developing people who are capable of discovering and expressing the passion, wonder, and joy of the world? Shouldn’t we be?

Of course, it’s almost heresy to suggest this, isn’t it?

What do you think?

What can I do to make the world a better place? Can I really make a difference?

What can I do to make the world a better place? Can I really make a difference?

If so much of “development” aid has failed (see previous blog entry), representing brilliant minds and billions of dollars spent on causes which often have done more harm than good, what can we do that will actually make the world a better place? And can one person really make a difference?kids at Masese

I’m here in Uganda again, where last summer I encounter several street kids that led to a series of soul-searching questions and valuable insights:
* Mistakes in Aid and Development (in Africa): Wanting to help, but making things worse
* Mistakes in Giving Aid and Development – Part 2
* Mistakes in Giving Aid and Development – Part 3: Rural Africa & Wireless…almost

Being in Uganda again prompts me to seriously ask: What can I do that will actually make a difference in the lives of these kids (and their community) who spend most of their days begging on the streets? Or more generally, how can I do something good in making the world a better place?

Here are five of my own ideas, general guiding principles for how to go about it – and I am very interested in yours.

1. First, we need to challenge the assumptions, labels, and filters we have come to view the world with.

Vasilis posted a great TED talk that helps with this: (Hans Rosling: No more boring data)

Another example of challenging stereotypes was offered in my previous blog entry.
Easterly shared how the traditional media often has incentives to reinforce the stereotype that all Africans are helpless and need us to come to their aid.
For example, from 1990-2005, the average annual percent of the African population affected by famine was in reality only 0.3%! Sometimes the media, NGOs, and people like me (who visit places like Masese) can influence those outside of Africa to think that all of Africa is filled with famine swept refugees hunted by child soldiers with HIV! 🙂
Viewed differently, Africa is one of the richest continents in the world.

So, even well-meaning compassion can lead to stereotypes that often hinder the ability of people to help themselves. To really help, we need to keep challenging the assumptions, labels, and filters we have come to view the world with.

2. Second, just for balance – avoid taking ourselves too seriously. By this, I mean that more resourcefulness and solutions come when we are more playful than remorse. **Reality check: we are not perfect, we are going to make mistakes, we can not do everything by ourselves all at once.

SaraJoy also offered some great perspective by posting a valuable video from Honda on why “failure” is OK and even good:

I’m thankfully at the point in my life that I don’t consider anything a failure. Whatever happens, I just find as much as I can to learn through it, come back from it that much stronger, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

3. Third, ask better questions! So much of our focus, feelings, and even what we are able to see or not see depends on the questions we are asking ourselves.

In this next video I captured William Easterly attempting to help us ask a better question than the one that so many of us ask: “What can we do?”

Really listen to what he says, as the distinctions he makes in what types of questions we ask is really useful.

4. Fourth, focus on your strengths and passions — notice what you are good at and/or love to do, and spend a majority of your time/energy there.
Strengths
As you will notice when you speak with me, I am often trying to ask questions that help me to know what your strengths are – what are you good at, what are you passionate about? Then frequently I encourage you to do more of those things.

Extensive research done by the Gallup organization showed that the top people in each field (business, sports, education, entertainment, etc) all had one thing in common – they focused most of their time on what they were good at.

Part of the reason for this helping them reach the top is that so much of the quality of our lives is dependent on the emotion we are living in on a regular basis. By focusing on what you are good at, this helps give you the emotional juice to really excel.

5. Fifth, form strategic partnerships. After focusing on what your strengths are, hands shakingthen partner with people who are good at (and even excited about doing) other things you are not as good at, so that together you really can make a powerful team.

You don’t need all the resources or talent to start to do things that you are passionate about. You simply need to be resourceful in forming strategic partnerships that can help get you there. It is way more about how resourceful you are than how many resources you have.

Strategic partnerships are also extremely helpful with point #1 and #3 above, intentionally seeking perspectives which are different from your own, asking good questions and really listening to the responses.

There is so much power in synergy — realizing we can easily creating something better together than any of us could on our own. It is my opinion that most of what we see as competition with others is an illusion. Competition can help stimulate action, but cooperation on a team that really works is indescribably motivating and fulfilling.

For those in the ICT4D Course, you are now working on a question with a partner, where you are trying to find a solution/answer to it that is better than anyone has yet come up with. I hope you will find these thoughts and resources valuable.

I’m not just sharing these with you as “cute” ideas, I’m living it right at the moment — thankful for your part in helping me do that — and excited to report to you the results as they unfold, as well as hear about your experience in also doing so.

Now, again, I’d love to hear your ideas:
* Above are five ideas that I think help answer the question — “how can I make the world a better place?” What are yours ideas?
* Do you really believe you can make the world a better place?
* What are some of your initial ideas regarding what your unique contribution will be?
* Specifically what talents/strengths/skills/ideas can you share which will help those in the world who have the least?

What is “development” anyway? William Easterly and the failure of ICT “4D”

What is “development” anyway? William Easterly and the failure of ICT “4D”

The purpose of this blog entry is to continue some of the momentum from recent discussions regarding development — to add to the discussion and open it up for your most recent thoughts/ideas/questions. It is such a key, central concept in so much of the work we do that I think it is well worth our time.

With some of my graduate students and colleagues, we have now begun some discussion on the book William Easterly“The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good” I thought it would be helpful to post a few videos I captured when I heard him speak at a lecture in early March.

Why has most of “development” done more harm than good?

Whereas compassion to those that have the least is appropriate, Easterly argues that the way this often turns into “authoritarian paternalism” is completely objectionable — essentially treating poor people like children. Easterly points out that even the original term “development” was a biological metaphor – a patronizing way of describing how “more sophisticated societies” would help take poor people from childhood into adulthood. He takes as example the Millennium Development Goals — suggesting as a patronizing attitude that some know better than poor themselves what the goals should be for those in poverty.


(Sorry the quality of the video on this one is not as good — I think it is definitely compensated for in the high quality of the ideas and questions he raises.)

In essence, he says that paternalism is so objectionable – we too often treat poor people like children.

He also talked about images that he calls “Disaster pornography” – where the media feels incentive to reinforce the stereotype that all Africans are helpless and need us to come to their aid.
For example, from 1990-2005, the average annual percent of the African population affected by famine was in reality only 0.3%. Sometimes the media can influence those outside of Africa to think that of Africa is filled with famine swept refugees hunted by child soldiers with HIV!

Well-meaning compassion can lead to stereotypes that hurt their ability to help themselves.

What is the alternative to paternalism?

Ultimately he suggests economic and political freedom, individual liberty, and an entrepreneurial kind of mindset.
He gave as an example the fact that in 1776 America was more tech backward, more diseased, and needy than Africa is today. He suggests that they were lucky to have been led by those who believed in individual liberty – that all men are created equal. Per capita income in America has increased by 35 times since those words were spoken (with only a little blip in the overall growth representing the great depression)

Are even the poor rebelling against traditional “development”?

William Easterly describes how the poor on their own are rebelling against Authoritarian Paternalism. He makes the case that the poor should have liberty to decide what they need best, just as anyone should. Men are created equal, and even development should reflect that.

Part of the beauty of the world we live in is that we can debate what the solution should be — until we find which are the ideas that lead to the best results.
–Even these videos above are obviously an American talking to a group of Americans. Surely a group of nearly 30 – 50 of the brightest graduate students and faculty from over 20 different countries and different disciplines can find the right creativity, data, compassion, and resourcefulness to add something of value to the debate and conversation that will make a practical difference in improving the lives of the poorest people in the world!

That is what I want from this ICT4D Course, and this ICT4D Consortium.

We have already had some great discussions regarding the concept of development. It would be well worth the time to go back and read some of the valuable thoughts shared by everyone up to this point. The evolution of thinking is interesting to me, and the perspectives from each person who is coming from very different backgrounds.

Team Praxis: SaraJoy started it off with some great thoughts, Andres gave some interesting insight from his recent assignment in Kenya, Sören list of five definitions of development as well as mentions GNH – Gross National Happiness vs. GNP – Gross National Product as a potential measure of development, Thai seeks to understand it from his technical background/perspective, Vasilis leading a great discussion. http://ict4dconsortium.rhul.ac.uk/elgg/mod/groups/topicposts.php?topic=1091&group_guid=405

Team Crocs (Jani leads a great discussion where interesting thoughts were shared by Yulia, Vera, Efosa, Robert, and James, Thato offering counter points to Easterly’s positions, and Ali describing how his view of “development” is changing) http://ict4dconsortium.rhul.ac.uk/elgg/mod/groups/topicposts.php?topic=1180&group_guid=1179

Team Ameya (Myriam, Marcus, Monika, Barun, Shujau, Ashes, Sharham, and Damira all offering interesting thoughts about power relations, ICT and education, “leap frog” technologies, sustainability, technical issues, and other valuable ideas and questions) http://ict4dconsortium.rhul.ac.uk/elgg/mod/groups/topicposts.php?topic=965&group_guid=923

While I was in Guyana I had the privilege of meeting with Len Singh. I interviewed him regarding the state of ICT in the Caribbean, and in the midst of the interview I got this great clip on his definition of development.

Then we just had an interesting controversial session led by Rajarshi Sahai where he shared from India his thoughts on why most of “development” fails. (You can listen to the recording of that session here: http://video.uku.fi/p68445724/)

In an earlier post, Raj asks these questions:

“I am quite shocked by the unnecessary stress on Developing countries context, when infrastructure and penetration of technology is very much an issue even within western Europe! How many of your countries have a good 3G network even in the city centres? How many of our internet services providers have a good service delivery record? How many of poor people are ICT literate there? these are just some of the many questions which can initiate a new debate, of seeing development, vulnerability and poverty as a global issue. We need to see these questions accordingly.

Why can’t global North learn from global South? Why can’t things be seen in a more objective sense than just dividing the world, and hence the wisdom inherent in it, into so called Developed and Developing countries, and thereby giving undue legitimacy to the so called developed to dictate the developing?”

Now is your turn to continue the discussion:
* When you think of the “development” part of ICT”4D” what do you think is should refer to? (maybe you even have a better name for it?)
* Why do you think traditional approaches to “development” have so frequently failed?
* What do you think we should do instead, particularly in ICT4D?
* Do you see any exceptions to the failures — some successes which can give us clues of what actually works?

And ultimately…
* What will you do to create an answer/solution to the question you (and your colleague/s) select which will be better than what anyone else has yet has come up with?

What is possible? Part II: What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money?

What is possible? Part II: What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money?

One of the most common things I hear from people in developing countries is that there is a lack of hope – or a lack of belief that they can succeed because of ____ [insert reason]. (you name the excuse, and I’ve heard it)

Seeing examples of people who are incredibly resourceful, regardless of the odds, is helpful.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Gerardo de Nicolas, CEO of a Mexican home builder, Homex, who was one of the most inspiring parts of the recent Ultimate Business Mastery Summit. Clint Gerardo Joey UBMS

The accomplishments of Homex are impressive (one of 16 Mexican companies traded on the NYSE, building 200 homes a day, expanding into India and Brazil, etc) – but even more impressive is the mentality and attitude of its founder, Gerardo de Nicolas (who was awarded ‘CEO of the Year’ by Latin Trade Magazine).

Gerardo said he realizes that much of the success of Homex came simply because they had a vision greater than themselves, that they didn’t know they couldn’t do what had never been done before, and he also realizes that the only major obstacle keeping Homex from growing are the limitations they place on themselves.

He has also focused so much of the success of their company back into the building of homes for those who can not afford it.

As Gerardo says in this video – the poor are not the problem, the poor are the solution. The way Homex is using home building technology in helping the poor to help themselves is interesting.

It is obvious that Gerardo has tapped into something he is passionate about and talented in.

Here are a couple of my favorite questions I would like you to answer (for everyone to see):
* If you didn’t have to worry about money, money was no obstacle, what would you do? (e.g. how would you spend your time, energy, focus?)
* What are some of your unique talents/gifts that you would focus on sharing with the world? (Is it any different than what you do now? If so, why?)

Critical thinking vs. Crucial thinking

Critical thinking vs. Crucial thinking

What does “critical thinking” mean to you? (Or do you like better the idea of “crucial thinking”?) Thinking Man
How do higher level thinking skills apply to the work that you do?
How do you think you can develop your ability to effectively think through complex issues (asking more crucial questions)?

In preparation for the upcoming ICT4D Consortium workshop in Tanzania, Tersia, Erkki and I met with Tim Unwin (UNESCO Chair in ICT4D) and his capable team at Royal Holloway, University of London. In addition to the Edulink related meetings, I appreciated how Tim also allowed us to participate in some of the other classes and discussion groups he held.

On the first day he held a discussion with a group of his PhD students on “critical thinking” (based on Paul, R. and Elder, L., 2008, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking). The discussion stimulated a lot of my own thoughts.
This blog entry is my attempt to capture some of my “take-away” thoughts, and to see how they resonate with others:

• As a term “crucial thinking” not only avoids some of the negative connotation (in English) of “critical thinking” but it also suggests something that is more essential and important. I like it.
• Whatever you call it, higher level thinking skills are so valuable, and so needed in making sense of this complex world, and in asking more powerful questions that can help us get at the heart of essential issues.
• Notice the distinction between seeking to prove something vs. seeking to learn/discover (especially in research questions).
• Often we don’t ask questions we should ask. Sometimes it might be because our parents or culture has taught us to ask less questions? Sometimes it might be because we are afraid of looking like we don’t know something that maybe we think we should know?
• Our typical school system rarely teaches us truth seeking curiosity, but rather the typical “learning” mechanisms Cartoon(e.g. lecture, assignments, etc) and assessments (tests written and graded by a teacher vs. competence based real world projects with expert guides assisting) usually reinforce a lower level of thinking.
• Ask more questions (particularly “why” questions) – be more curious (be more vulnerable in admitting ignorance through asking a lot of questions). What other questions could I be asking?
• Ask myself: What assumptions I am making in the questions I am asking?
• Ask powerful questions – I should post another blog entry sometime on what I mean by this.
• Ask myself: How open am I to that I might be wrong in the solutions I am hypothesizing or that I might even be asking the wrong (less helpful) question(s) to begin with?
• Where do you start and build from in analyzing a situation to improve it? The weaknesses/problems or the strengths and what is going right? Whereas “critical thinking” might imply beginning from being critical of what is not right, crucial thinking could lend itself better to the attitude of starting from strengths, what is going right, (appreciative inquiry), etc.
• What is your claim? How do you justify it?
• Sometimes true crucial thinking is penalized by the existing system, because it often requires you to challenge the status quo (going against sources of money/power/etc). How willing am I to ask honest questions to myself and to those in authority (for the sake of truth), even if they could be seen as a threat or it might mean less privileged favors in the future?

Those are my thoughts. Do you have any to add? Or any answers to the first questions that began this blog entry?

Gay and Mormon: Trying to understand Homosexuality and Christianity

Gay and Mormon: Trying to understand Homosexuality and Christianity

In the last 6 months I have been to almost a dozen countries presenting at conferences or attending valuable workshops. One of Two great peoplethe most interesting presentations I was asked by Fred and Marilyn Matis to give was at a meeting (called a “fireside”) that is for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who either struggle with same-sex attraction or have friends/family that do.

In previous blog entries I talked a little about what it was like growing up a Mormon, and later answered some questions in a blog entry on what do Mormons believe, and so this whole topic is one that is interesting and important to me.

At the Matis event, I was asked to speak for about an hour on a a fun topic – some of life’s greatest lessons that I learned from a friend and mentor, a retired Air Force fighter pilot – who was an inspiring example of how God can definitely work with and through people that are imperfect (which always gives hope to me).

I know that homosexuality in the context of Christianity is a sensitive topic, and there is a lot of tension and misunderstanding on all sides of the issue. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here are some things I have learned:

• I am convinced that in most instances, same-sex attraction is not a choice. In our society, why would anyone choose it?A great friend
• As the Matis’ point out – instead of worrying about a “cause” or “cure” – both of which we might never find – we should focus more energy on “care”. How can we learn to care more about people around us regardless of how they are different from us? And not just caring about them but also learning from them – because quite often they are inspiring!
• Most of these individuals are not a threat to anyone – but have actually spent a good portion of their lives beating themselves up about something they did not choose, wishing they were different, and trying to hide it from others. In trying to hide anything, it seems to magnify it out of proportion. When any of us begins to focus on some thing(s) that we don’t like about ourselves, we often miss seeing how much good there is in who we are.
• The way our society, media, etc… deals with matters of sex and sexuality are usually based more on image, indulgence, anxiousness, lust, fear, and unrealizable expectations instead of on principles of real love, thinking of others more than ourselves, and respect. This makes it difficult to understand or discuss these matters.
• When there is a judgmental culture, it influences people to hide anything about themselves which others might potentially look down on. That often limits their ability to feel truly accepted and loved/lovable.
• This does not mean that “anything goes and is equally OK” – or that we can have no basis for choosing personal standards because that might mean that it seems we are also placing a judgment on others. Just letting anyone do whatever they feel like never has led people to be more more wise or happy. Rather, it means that we do always seek and strive for those things which really do unlock the greatest potential in ourselves, others, and society as a whole – while at the same time having more patience and compassion for others (and ourselves) in the process.
• At our core, what we all want more than anything (regardless of who we are) is to be loved and accepted. One great thing about these meetings is that it allows people to be honest about themselves (in some cases for the first time), to recognize they are not alone, and especially to realize that there is nothing about who they are that needs to keep them from being truly loved and accepted (especially things which were not a choice). We all have our own difficulties and differences (whatever they may be), yet innately want to be close to God and others.

Those are some of the things I have been learning, as I am trying to make sense of homosexuality in light of Christianity.

Do you agree/disagree on any of these points?
Does anyone have anything additional to add?

Nobel Peace Prize winner F.W. de Klerk on global inter-connectedness, the root causes of conflict, and the role of U.S. leadership: What can one person do?

Nobel Peace Prize winner F.W. de Klerk on global inter-connectedness, the root causes of conflict, and the role of U.S. leadership: What can one person do?

What can one person do to make the world a better, safer place?Clint Rogers and Nelson Mandela

In a previous blog entry I talked about meeting Nelson Mandela, who is such an inspirational character. On Tuesday of this week I met and shook hands with his predecessor as president of South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk.
It is strange that I never really thought much about F.W. de Klerk before – but he is a man who has shown incredible humility, FE deKlerk handshakestrength, and courage in his role of surrendering power to negotiation while doing away with apartheid as well as what he has been doing since then.

He offered a great speech to a group of students and faculty at BYU about how interconnected we all are in the world now, the role of leadership the U.S. plays in that (whether they like it or not), and the responsibility we all have to eliminate as much as possible the root causes of conflict (poverty, ignorance, repression, and fanaticism).

It is hard to select which parts of my notes to share, but on my plane ride to Toronto I typed up a summary of some of the main points he made.
At the end I ask the question that this entry began with.

Global inter-connectedness
Globalization shrinks the world.
We have a more interconnected financial system
In a shrinking world, problems of one region will be problems of another region.
(e.g. AIDS, or how sub-prime loan crises in the US influences the economy all over the world)

Nothing would appear more secure and American than Utah. Yet you all will be affected by the global stage (China, India, Middle East, Iraq, Financial Crises, Global Warming, etc.)

Conflicts can reverberate all over the world.
Who would have thought a few years ago that fanatics in the caves of Afghanistan could pose a threat to the financial nerve center of the most powerful nation on earth?

Root causes of conflict
The root cause of conflict is: poverty, repression, ignorance, and fanaticism.

While we are here, children are starving, ravished – living in unacceptable conditions – so much pain.
2 billion people still live beneath the poverty line, and this unacceptable. Here is the gap which needs to be breached.
The per capita of the wealthiest countries is 84 times the per capita of the poorest countries.

There is laid the foundation of a supranational power, a global interconnectivity – and we can no longer ignore problems elsewhere.
It is less and less possible to ignore how much of the world lives in poverty, ignorance, and oppression.

You need to develop the policy, skill, and will to tackle the root causes of conflict.
There is a symbiosis between freedom, economic development, democracy (rule of law), and a vibrant civil society.

One of the main sources of conflict is the inability of different ethnic/cultural/religious groups to peacefully co-exist.
Only a few of the worlds most significant conflicts have been between countries – the rest are conflicts within countries (e.g. Middle East).

Israel and Palestine must find a way to peacefully live together!

In South Africa [during apartheid] we experienced isolation, restrictions, sanctions and we felt the pressure of it. FW deKlerkAs a result, we pulled back to reconsider what we were doing and learned there was another way.
We learned we could not dictate in negotiation, but negotiation needed to be inclusive. All sides had to take enormous risks, and make painful compromises.
In negotiation, we must always be trying to see things from the other side as you move forward.
If we could do it (in South Africa), they can do it too.

Role of U.S. leadership
How will the US play the global leadership role in a world full of threats and full of opportunities?

If we are living in a global village, the U.S. is the mayor and chief of police.
Not acting as an elected leader, but as the unchallenged economic, military dominance and preeminence.

Success makes you a target for disaffected groups.
The role of preeminence is always unpopularity. Even your allies are jealous of you. To quote Bart Simpson, “You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.”

How should the US lead? Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
It might be true that Iraq, the Middle East, and the world is a better place without Hussein. But what is the lasting solution?
Military force has a role, but it can not provide a lasting solution.

The US must have an iron will and force, but not in a way that is inconsistent with democratic principles.
In the global leadership role, constantly consider speaking with a “soft voice”
This is not the same as weakness. It involves a multi-lateral approach to international crises. You do not forgo using a big stick, but you have to get more consensuses if ultimately it is to be used.

In the U.S. don’t lose faith, but don’t be overly concerned with what others have accused you of doing wrong. FW deKlerk BYU Speech

Focus instead on what you have done great and right, redouble those efforts. You are the most democratic country the world has ever seen.
You, the people of the U.S., are free – and engaging in the 4 year celebration of that freedom – the election of your next president.
You have no idea how much influence your current election is having on the world. So many are watching it with interest, that some feel they should also have a vote.

One of the wonders of freedom in the U.S. is how few restrictions there are for entrepreneurs – there are so little restrictions on them, so they can follow their dreams.
You have fostered a healthy spirit of competition which has inspired excellence in scientific discovery, technological development, etc.
You can also appreciate fostering healthy competition between countries.

The greatness of America is not in its army, but the greatness of America lies in its ideals: freedom of religion, democracy with the rule of law, the faith of the majority of its people, etc.

If the US is true to their ideals, there is no doubt you will succeed in your mission: you must take the leadership in poverty elimination, promoting democracy, in finding peaceful solutions to the conflicts that face the world
The US will have to play a disproportionate role in facing these challenges.

But it is only in speaking with a “soft voice”, multi-lateral approaches, and international collaboration that lasting solutions to the world’s problems can be found.

Whether you are in the 1st or 3rd world, we are all part of the fragile interconnected globalized society.
Regardless of how rich a country is, security can only be handled when the international community works together in concert with each other.
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In the Question and Answer session after his speech, one person asked a question that I’m sure a lot of people were asking themselves. It is the same question that a friend asked me in an email a few minutes later.

In light of how interconnected we are, and how we can less and less ignore the poverty, ignorance, and oppression that exists in the world –
What can one person do to make the world a better, safer place?

I think this is a common question that a lot of people ask, and this is my question for you – what ideas do you have? With problems so complex and overwhelming, can one person really make a difference?

(After some responses, I’ll share what Mr. deKlerk’s suggestions were, as well as some of my own thoughts)

Thinking Bigger – like Gerald Rogers

Thinking Bigger – like Gerald Rogers

One of my friends, Kyle Matthews, recently pointed me in the direction of one of Seth Godin’s blog entries where he talked about Thinking Bigger.

I have just been in Florida for the last 4 days, where I saw how powerful this principle is. Real Estate Investor Summit 2008My brother, Gerald Rogers, had an idea about two months ago to put together a multi-speaker event, which he invited me to, but I had no idea what to expect. Well, in that short period of time he lined up some of the most powerful speakers (people like Tony Robbins‘ son Jairek, the business guru an NY times best selling author Chet Holmes, Than Merrill and other TV personalities, former sports stars and incredibly successful entrepreneurs), over a thousand people signed up to come, and for the hundreds of people who actually attended – it is quite possible everyone left with their lives dramatically changed for the better (including me)!


Gerald Rogers with Than Merrill


Testimonial Video (after just the first day)

Gerald had really never done anything like this before! But perhaps being driven by a passion to make other people’s lives better invites the universe to conspired with you — as it did with helping Gerald succeed in creating a world-class event! In addition to the speakers, I was impressed so much by the quality of the other friends I met there too. It seemed impossible to walk out of the experience we just had without being inspired and recognizing how this might indeed be one of the best times ever in the history of the world – and being motivated to take advantage of opportunities which are present and to really make a difference.

When I think about my brother, there are few people in my life that can make Gerald Rogersme laugh as hard or feel as loved as he does. Now there are few people who have done as much to inspire me to believe more in myself and think bigger. And it makes me so happy to see how Gerald is now thinking bigger in a way that allows hundreds (and no doubt thousands) more to benefit from the gifts and talents that God gave him.

Important Questions:

  • What if I told you that in two months from now you could help do something that would forever improve the lives of hundreds of people (both those you know and love as well as those you have never met)? Would you believe me that you could – and then have the courage to make it happen?
  • How much more could you do to make this world a better place, if only you had the courage to think bigger, focus, and follow through?
  • What are the strengths and talents that God has given you, so that you can make this world a better place?
  • What is it that is holding you back from doing that — and what could help you to eliminate the fear or mediocrity in your life so that you could increase your belief in yourself and your ability to think bigger?
Announcing the EDULINK Consortium of African and European Universities for ICT4D: …And discussing ways in which Africa is already rich (and can give aid to the world)

Announcing the EDULINK Consortium of African and European Universities for ICT4D: …And discussing ways in which Africa is already rich (and can give aid to the world)

I am back in Finland again.
(Have I ever mention how much I like this place? – If you have never been to Finland before, you need to reconsider your life goals) 🙂
Part of why I like the University of Joensuu is because of their strong international programs, and in particular their connection to Africa.

I recently accepted a position as the coordinator of the EDULINK ICT4D Consortium of African and European Higher Education Institutions.
Last year we wrote a grant proposal to the EDULINK funding call Changed Priorities Ahead(a part of the European Union’s efforts to support and develop ties with the developing world), a couple of months ago we heard news that they accepted it, and this last week I sent out an official confirmation of the EU funding to each of the partner institutions.

The current partner institutions include:

  • the University of Joensuu, Finland;
  • Tumaini University/Iringa University College, Tanzania;
  • the University of Southern Denmark, Odense;
  • UNESCO Centre for ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London;
  • the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana;
  • Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique;
  • Maseno University, Kenya;
  • C. A. Diop University, Senegal

And with the following two associates:

  • the Association of African Universities (AAU)
  • and Entertainment Robotics, a private company that develops ICT4D.

The specific objective of this project: To strengthen each of the partner institutions potential for effectively producing and utilizing ICT for development; specifically improving academic curriculum and research capacity through (1) workshops, (2) student and faculty exchanges, and (3) online contributions to a virtual hub (for collaboration, resources, and open sharing of results).

I am excited about the position because it allows me to be flexible in where I live (as I can do most of the work online), and the project is focused on an area that I feel passionate about. I feel we can make a difference, even though progress usually turns out more slow than we would hope (it is more like sitting and watching a tree grow than it is like watching a train pass).

As you can see from my previous blog entries, instead of western countries simply offering aid to the developing world (and often unintentionally making things worse than before) – I’m a strong believer that it is MUCH better if it is a two-way flow of ideas and communication, synergistically coming up with solutions together Africa is Richthat no one partner could on their own, helping with the “development” of the European partners as much as with the African ones.

We need to get rid of the idea that Africa is a poor person that we need to pity and help! In my opinion, such an attitude is patronizing and simply fosters dependency. Africa is truly rich, and they have all they need and more!
In a sense they might benefit from association with Western countries, but in that same sense Western countries need Africa just as much or more. It seems much more healthy and helpful to have relationships and attitudes that encourage a two-way synergistic sharing and implementation of ideas and resources (where the end result is better than either party could come up with by themselves).
Hopefully the fruits of this consortium experience will be ICT4D innovations, curriculum, and research that meet real needs and contribute to improving the quality of lives and the human potential of all involved.

Questions:
Along those lines, my questions for you in this blog entry are ones that we asked at the TEDC conference participants in August:

  • What do you think are the unique strengths of Africa and its people?
  • In your opinion, what is it that Africa and Africans can share with others, to help “develop” even Western countries, and make the world a better place?
  • (I ask these questions about Africa, because that is where a lot of the EDULINK project partners come from, but you can answer them with regards to any another “developing” area too.)